Do you ever feel like you’re operating on autopilot? Where your daily activities and decisions have become so redundant that you’ve stopped using the same amount of brain power. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a completely bad thing. It can be very useful in terms of efficiency, but it’s definitely not good for your sanity. You start to lose track of what happened a week ago. The days start to blend together and nothing seems to matter. Your daily routine has basically become habit. Habit is a very powerful tool, but it can do both harm and good. How do you know if it’s doing good or harm though? Unfortunately, there is not way to categorize them correctly. There will be habits we deem as good now, but may realize to have been a huge mistake later on. There may be good habits that end up bringing about better results in the long term. Is there really a way to differentiate between the two? Probably not.
For something like habit, there are not clearly defined instructions on how to use this tool. It is all based on human gut feelings. This feels right, it should work in theory and it did work when we tried it. Why question it any further? If the plan ever goes south, we’ll just figure it out then. Is that really the best way to go though? Should be keep doing what we do without questioning it? Without looking for a better solution or method? Unfortunately, many people feel that way. They don’t like change, and they refuse to accept it. In their mind, they’ve been doing something for over a decade and it has been working. Changing it is risky and they don’t want to risk it. At least, that’s what the say. I’d say that the risk isn’t the major player here. If there is something that has been proven to be better, why would you believe otherwise? I think that the change itself is the thing that repels those people away. They’ve been doing what they do for so long that it has become habit. They run on autopilot now. They’ve become comfortable with their lives. Changing their methods is comparable to shattering their lives and making them rebuild it. No one wants to destroy their masterpiece and start over. Change is a scary thing, there is no doubt about it.
Change has always stopped individuals from advancing at one point in their lives. It’s also the reason some couples stay together even those they’re both miserable. It’s the reason some people stay at their jobs even though they know they’d be happy somewhere else. It’s the reason some people never move away from their hometown even though a better opportunity lies elsewhere. Habit is a very powerful tool and it’s governed by something we don’t fully control, the human brain. We don’t fully understand why or how our brains develop habits. What we do know is that it saves the information each time we engage ourselves in the task/activity. It saves it so many times that it becomes less and less important. The brain lowers the amount of energy it uses to complete the task. It lowers it to the point where we don’t even realize we’re completing the task or have already completed it. Think about it like this: Are you always consciously aware of your breathing? Your eyes blinking? These things are running on the power of habit. We don’t have to think about it to do it. We could think about it, but we don’t have to. It’s like an athlete that uses instinct to score a point for their team. They’ve been in the situation so many times that they instantly react to it when faced with the situation. Habit allows us to use less energy and waste less time. It can be a very useful tool.
It can also do great harm. Most smokers smoke out of habit. They’ve always had a cigarette with their morning coffee. The act of not doing the same thing makes them feel uncomfortable. OF course, there are chemicals involved with that feeling, but that’s a different topic. If you’ve been eating poorly your entire life, it can be difficult to stop. Your brain naturally wants you to pick items that you’re familiar with because you fear the change. Maybe not the beneficial results at the end, but the thought of not being able to do it. If you’ve been doing something a certain way, you’re probably not going to change that method even if you’ve found a better way to do it.
Knowing when a habit is good or bad is very tricky. It honestly comes down to your gut feeling about the situation. If you feel that you need to change, you need to commit to that change. If you think that everything is fine, then by all means, keep at it. Sometimes though, the fine is exactly what you need to change. A perfect example of such would be your job. The job you have may be fine and you might be comfortable. However, is there a better opportunity for you? Is there another job out there that would offer you more room to grow? More compensation for your expertise? A better suited environment for you? Many people tend to stay at their jobs because they’re comfortable. Some people are always looking for new opportunities. Those people are usually the people who become well-off. They’re always advancing themselves and always looking for ways to improve their lives. Some of them get in way over their heads though. So there definitely is risk. I’d tread carefully if you’re the type that likes to always improve themselves.
Back to the question at hand. Do you autopilot your life? If you think you might be, you probably are. Question now is whether or not you think it’s the best option. For me, it isn’t the best option. For me, there are better things out there and that was my logic when I embarked on my quest for change. So far, so good. If you’re thinking of attempting change, I have very simple advice for you. Stay optimistic and weigh your options carefully. These are life changing decisions so give it the time it deserves.