Imagine yourself in the driver's seat of your own life and career (which you are). You're in charge and get to make all the choices, turns, detours, and stops along the way. You are responsible for creating your own reality. Do you know where you are going and aware of the choices you make along the way every single day? Or, are you asleep at the wheel?
Just as your wouldn't want to be asleep at the wheel of your car because the results could range from the unexpected to the tragic, the same holds true for the way you approach your life. If you find yourself unconsciously doing the same thing today simply because it was the same thing you did yesterday (and the day before, and the month before that, and the year before that), perhaps it's time to wake up or the years will pass by and you'll wonder, “How did I get here?"
This asleep at the wheel thing is more prevalent than you might think, too. So many people are simply burned out at some level and go on autopilot. If you take a look around you I bet you can see countless examples of people who stay in dead end jobs they don't enjoy simply because that is where they ended up. If you look on a broader scale, you can see organizations of all sizes keep doing what they're doing only because that's the way it has always been done. After all, status quo is the path of least resistance even if it is ultimately the most unsatisfying and unsuccessful approach to achieve results.
How Asleep are You?
Answer these few quick questions with the first thing that comes to mind:
- Who was the last person you came in contact with and what was he/she wearing?
- What do you remember about the last time you drove to/from work? Did you get there and not even remember how?
- What clothes are you wearing right now (and don't look)?
- What did you eat for dinner last night?
How did you do? Were you able to quickly and easily answer these three questions in detail or was your response more like, “Huh, I don't really know"? While none of these questions are really all that important in the grand scheme of things, what they can tell us is how conscious we are to the people and things around us.
What You Can Do
No one gets behind the wheel of their car with the intention to sleep through the ride because they don't want to end up in a ditch. So what can you do to make sure you don't drive your life or career into a ditch unknowingly? Intentionally choose to be awake at the wheel of what you do and how you show up in the world every day. If you've ever traveled to a new place you know that you can't fall into autopilot when you're experiencing things for the first time. If you've been on autopilot for a long time, you need get some of that “newness" into your life, so here's some suggestions to get you started:
- Take a different route to work every day. It'll make you think and notice your surroundings.
- Wear an outfit of clothing that is different than your normal garb. If you normally dress formal, dress down. If you tend to wear conservative colors, buy something with a splash of bold colors. It'll wake up your senses and help you feel a little different even in your familiar surroundings.
- Get away from it all. Take a vacation or trip - short or long, expensive or cheap - to clear your mind and get a new perspective.
- Try a new cuisine of food you have never eaten before. Experiment at home or go out and experience a whole new palette of flavors.
These little tricks will start to awaken your senses. Waking up from the slumber of autopilot is the first step to getting more of what you want in your world and less of what you don't want. Once you wipe the sleep out of your eyes you can start to make new, intentional choices at every turn along your journey.
Copyright 2005-2006, Paula Gregorowicz and The Paula G Company, All Rights Reserved.
Paula Gregorowicz is the owner of The Paula G Company which specializes in helping stressed out and overwhelmed women business owners achieve more success without all the burnout and compromise. Author of the burnout busting eCourse “Nip Burnout in the Bud" available at http://www.avoidburnoutnow.com . Paula offers free help through her “Beyond Burnout" newsletter at http://www.thepaulagcompany.com/newsletter.shtml .