I just quit my job and booked a ticket to Panama, who’s with me?
As Passenger aptly put it, “Life’s for the living, so live it (or you’re better off dead).”
But if you are spending the majority of your time mentally “checked out” of the world around you, you aren’t really living; in fact, you’ve stepped away from the wheel, and your autopilot is merely holding your position in case you return.
What do I mean by “autopilot?”
Well, have you ever arrived at your destination with no memory of having traveled there? Or, cleaned the whole house, yet have no idea where you put anything? (it’s unsettling, isn’t it?)
A study reported on by Psychology Today, found that the average person is tuned out nearly half (46.9%) of the time. To make matters worse, they also found that mind wandering is associated with unhappiness. (Bummer, huh?)
So, why do we do it?
Well, let’s take a look at the purpose of an autopilot:
Gadling’s resident airline pilot, Kent Wien, describes the autopilot system in a jet as, “a device to hold an altitude while following a specified route,” so the pilot can avoid the tedium of long term, level flight.
It stands to reason, then, that humans employ their own autopilot and zone out under similar conditions, i.e. when the path we are traveling is well-worn, familiar, and boring.
Who’s most at risk?
Let’s talk about personality for a moment–specifically the type that craves new knowledge and experiences like a cat craves catnip.
If you fall into this category, trying to follow the conventional path in life has probably felt a lot like trying to jam a round peg (you) into a square hole (conventional life. And yes, it’s the hole in this analogy that is square).
And yet, chances are great that you are still, futilely and painfully, trying to make yourself fit. Why?
Because you have been told so many times that your dreams are too unrealistic or too risky, that you have let the fear that the naysayers are right keep you grounded.
Those around you probably have you convinced it is in your best interest (and probably theirs) for you to conform: to grow up and settle down; to get a job that makes up in security what it lacks in novelty; to toe the line and not make waves.
Let me just say, there is nothing wrong with jumping on the status quo bandwagon and following a map that’s tried and true! It works well for kajillions (yes, that is the official number) of people, and there is safely in numbers.
But if you crave novelty, the repetition of a conventional lifestyle is likely your KRYPTONITE.
So, what happens when someone who is fueled by new experiences tries to conform to a life of routine?
Well, the monotony begins to wear away at them and they loose their spark for life. To offset the tedium they will either: (a) seek out other avenues of escape/stimulation, like drugs, alcohol, and sex, or (b) turn inward to their rich imaginations to provide a respite, while relying on autopilot to get them relatively unscathed from one destination to the next.
As a long term plan, both options stink: with the first, you are bound to have repercussions from both a legal and health standpoint, and with the the second, you wake up 10 years in the future wondering how the heck you got there.
And, If the average person is in la-la-land roughly half the time, you can bet that the disillusioned explorer has moved in, set up shop, and hung out a shingle.
So, you just described my life, what now?
Well, Autopilot Disengaged wants to toss a bucket of cold water in your face. Okay, maybe that’s a bit harsh. But, I do want to wake you up! I want you to stop tying to cram yourself in that square hole and embrace your differences. Join me on my quest!
As someone (possibly Einstein) once said, “everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
If you are a novelty seeker, than SEEK!
Yes, you have to make a living. And to do that, you must identify a source of income, tap into it, and commit to drawing it out.
But there are all kinds of ways to make money, and not all of them will confine you to a windowless office for 9 hours every weekday. Even if you decide to stick with your current position, make a promise to explore (new places, new hobbies, etc) in your spare time.
Never stop pursuing that which fuels your fire–don’t just resign yourself to living in the dark!
Stepping outside of the norm is scary; of course it is. That’s why it’s so much easier to keep your head down and go on a metal vacation.
But if you want to actually enjoy your life, and remember it, then you have to leave your comfort zone behind and keep that pesky autopilot from taking over.
Here you will find resources, reflections, and real life experience on living a more fully awake and fulfilling life.
Follow my story as I take back the wheel, quit my 9-5, and head to Panama with my young son to attempt to live in the moment and chase a few rainbows!
SHOW YOUR SOLIDARITY BY COMMENTING BELOW OR SHARING YOUR STORY WITH ME ON THE CONTACT PAGE!
And, If you are toying with the idea of moving to Panama too, but are not sure yet if it is the right destination for you, start here:
“Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is simply passing the time. Action with vision is making a positive difference.” –Joel Barker
Visualize your dream, create your plan, and take action; and if you find yourself in Panama, stop by and say hello!