Decommissioning Auto-Pilot Mentality

            Routine and stagnation can be the bitter enemies of progress and self-development. I was talking to someone recently who had just moved to Denver also. They talked about how they had been in the same place at the same job for over a decade. Their days were cemented in repetition. They were deeply unsatisfied and didn’t even know it. They talked about how after they had moved away and gotten a new job and filled their life with new experiences, they began to realize how their previous life, orbiting around routine and repetition, had felt like they had been mentally running on auto-pilot.

            When he used the word auto-pilot, a light clicked in my head. That is exactly what my life was running on up until very recently. I had not left my hometown and I was an adult in my early thirties who had been at the same job for eight years. What passions I had at a younger age were tossed aside for distraction and comfortability. It all felt tediously predictable. It wasn’t engaging or particularly exciting. I had become numb, indifferent, apathetic even. I was living the same day over and over again. Driving down the same roads. Thinking the same thoughts. Talking to the same people. Performing the same job. Having the same stresses. Coming home and distracting myself with the same distractions. My life was on repeat and I desperately wanted something new, but I didn’t possess the mentality to do it, until recently.

            Seven months ago, a door opened in my mind. I became more aware of the possibilities in my life and I said screw it, I want a change and I am going to make it happen. I packed my stuff and decided to live in a new place. I am fortunate enough to have a job that allows the opportunity to travel at this rate, as nursing is in high demand across the nation. I lived in Macon for three months, Charleston for three months, and now I am in Denver for at least another three months before moving on to somewhere else. And I must say, leaving the routine and familiarity of my hometown was one of the best decisions I have made.

            Unfamiliar places and new situations are where your brain thrives. New stimuli are engaging to the brain, it requires prowess and vigilance. Thinking on your feet and adapting to new things can help strengthen your mind. It can help reframe your life, contextualize it in new ways, and challenge it with new problems to solve. Your brain is like a muscle, requiring constant care, exercise, and new stimuli.

This idea of trying new things used to make me uncomfortable and I still get uncomfortable in many situations, but I feel so much more enriched and excited about life now that I don’t always know what’s around the next corner. I always valued intellectual stimulation and its like now I have found new ways to embrace my mind, to work and cultivate my mind, to empower and restore my mind to something pure.

            I think for me the challenge of a new place, new people, new situations are important to my journey forward. It’s important to step out of your comfort zone, to be put into a state of serene vulnerability. When you are on your own in a new place, you have to rely on yourself. No one else can build your new life but you. In that way you are responsible for every direction your life takes. When I stumble or fail at something new, it’s a reminder to be humble, resilient, and to do my best to learn from every situation and gain from the experience. When I achieve something new, it helps to reinforce confidence and feelings of fulfillment and satisfaction within me. Self-confidence is something I have heavily lacked for most of my life so slowly building that up through autonomy, discipline, and challenge is rewarding.

            I think for me personally, moving to a new place is like a blank slate. It’s an opportunity to create a new mindset, new thoughts, new emotions, and new practices. I have been working hard to reframe my life in the light of progress, self-fulfillment, love, and gratitude. I think having new frames of reference in my environment absent of any familiar triggers from my hometown is highly conducive to change, and it can be for so many of us. I found it harder to escape the gravity of my life and actually construct meaningful change when I was constantly exposed to the same environmental triggers rooted in my patterned ways of thinking and behaving.

            I think if you are feeling like you are in a rut and you have the means to do so, change your situation. Do something new! Take a risk, get out of your comfort zone, and challenge yourself. Don’t be afraid to fail, remember you either win or you learn. Every situation can be enriching to your life if you allow it.

Remember for real, impactful change, it doesn’t necessarily have to be something as dramatic as moving away Do new things that subvert your routine. Just do something different! Tricking and bewildering your brain is the name of the game. Go on a new walk, find a new route to work, join a book club, go see a concert, talk to someone you might not normally associate with, go rafting, write a song, take a new path. Bask in a new moment, a new experience that you yourself created. Rewire your neural framework, paint the canvas of your mind with fresh colors. Carve new paths in your mind, open the doors of change and walk through to a better life. Remember, a better life is not just out there, you have to engage with it. The best way to ensure a better life for yourself, put simply, is to create one.

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