BY CAROLINA HERRERA
Practical strategies to help you get out of autopilot and live a more mindful and purposeful day.
Do you sometimes get to the end of the day and wonder: “where did the day go?” You look back at everything that happened but nothing seems to stand out. And if someone asked you what you got up to, you'd struggle to even come up with two things you did.
I think we’ve all felt like this at some point. This is a common symptom of our 24/7 lifestyles and a clear sign that autopilot has taken over.
See, our trusted friend autopilot comes with us wherever we go. It helps us streamline our lives so we can preserve energy for the things that matter! Like… running away from vicious predators out in the wild.
Well, at least that’s what it thinks it needs to do thanks to our inherited survival instincts. But, most of us aren't out in the wild hunting for food and living in caves anymore. So, we can now choose to channel our energy reserves into more productive activities.
And this is exactly what you’ll be able to do by following the three steps below. They will help you reclaim your day; leave autopilot aside and set yourself up for a more meaningful day.
STEP 1: DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT TODAY TO BE ABOUT
Pick 3 feelings you’d like to feel today. Or 3 things you’d like to achieve. (I’m using 3 as an example but you can go for a different number. Just don’t overwhelm yourself).
Here is a question I use to help me pick what feels most meaningful. I ask: “what do my mind, body and spirit need today to thrive?” And I come up with one thing for each of those parts of me. I know acting on these is a sure way to sprinkle some goodness onto my day.
Then I go on to pick the 3 things that need to happen. These might be work, family or hobby related.
The key here is the word need. As it gets you focused on the stuff that has to get done. The stuff that is most important and without which you can’t move on to the next level.
STEP 2: INSTRUCT YOUR BRAIN TO GET IT DONE
Aha, so here is where so many of us go wrong. We forget to speak in a way that our mind will listen.
Our mind likes clear, specific, detailed, dynamic words. We need to use words that paint a picture and leave no room for confusion. We need to avoid ambiguous words like maybe, later, tomorrow.
Even using the word no is confusing. Because when you think of not doing something the alternative can vary widely.
I learnt this concept during my training in Rapid Transformational Therapy. From UK Therapist Marisa Peer. Marisa also explains this in her book “I’m Enough” where she talks about 'the rules of the mind’. And where she says that every pattern of behaviour is preceded by a pattern of thought.
And so, if we want to change our behaviours, we first need to change our thoughts. Or at least direct them in specific directions – using very clear, descriptive words.
Now, I know hijacking our thoughts all the time is difficult, but it is possible in some portions of our day. So here I’m inviting you to hijack your morning thoughts. Turn them into clear, specific instructions your mind will want to listen to and follow.
STEP 3: KEEP THAT THOUGHT AND IMAGE IN YOUR MIND
The image of your desired outcome or feeling will become your guide throughout the day. As well as your measure for success. And that’s why it’s so helpful to use specific words as described above.
If you struggle to ‘see or visualise’ this, that’s OK. Shift your focus to associated sensations, colours, smells, textures, or sounds. Doing this is a great way to help your brain create an even more vivid picture and a clearer instruction of what you’d like to happen.
Finally, I’d like to leave you with this metaphor as a way of remembering how to reclaim your day.
Getting what you want out of your day, is a bit like programming a new address into your GPS. If you put the address including the house number, building, road name and postcode, you know you are more likely to get there than if you just put in the name of the neighbourhood.
And that’s similar to how our mind works. The clearer it is on where you want to get, the less chances it has of getting lost along the way.
So go ahead, choose your destination. Tell your mind what you want to feel or do. But remember to be mindful of the journey so you spot the lessons along the way too.
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