Have you ever arrived at a destination and realized you don’t remember how you got there? It was as if someone else was behind the wheel driving. Those kinds of events are part of the unconscious decision-making system in your mind. In some ways, that mental autopilot is great, because it can allow you to focus on other, more important tasks. At the same time, the autopilot that guided you safely to a familiar destination can also be holding you back from growing and living your best life.

I’m a member of a coached mastermind group that meets every week. As an exercise to break us out of our comfort zones, we all received assignments. I’m not the most spontaneous person in the world, so when I got the email, I knew it was going to be a huge step out of comfort zone. My task was to go to a public place, like a mall, where there are lots of people and talk to at least twelve strangers. Then, I had to get their permission to create a spontaneous love poem for their significant other, and once I did, the participant had to sign a statement saying that I created love and connection.

I stared at that list for a long time. I’m not an extrovert. This was definitely not something I would do normally. Initially, I thought, Okay, I’m gonna do it because I said I would. That’s what I do. If I if I’m committed to doing something, I’m going to do it. The coach is asking me to do this and clearly they see something in me that I don’t see in myself. I have a blind spot.

Then my brain started figuring ways to make the task easier. I could take a friend. There was nothing in the rules that said I couldn’t. I have a friend, Kelly, who is really outgoing and has this infectious laughter. I knew she would draw people naturally and I wouldn’t have to be the outgoing one. Did I have to interview twelve individuals or twelve couples? Do I have time to do this? I’m not good at this and won’t do it right.

I kept making up obstacles because I wanted to be comfortable, to stay nice and cozy in my comfort zone. Your mind is designed to keep you in that space. Stretching and growing causes discomfort. Your mind doesn’t know that that discomfort is a positive thing. I knew that if I did this, and was able to get twelve people to participate in my project, I’d become a different person who had overcome all that fear and discomfort.

The Vortex of Autopilot

We all do this. We don’t take actions toward our goals because we get stuck in our own crap and just keep spinning and spinning in the same circles. You have to be willing to turn off that autopilot comfort zone and go for it.

I messaged my friend and told her I was going to go it alone. My friends tend to be extroverts who generate the excitement in the room, and I’m just a part of it, not starting it myself. This was an opportunity for me to become stronger in a new way, even if it was scary to do.

To me, it’s sad when people allow their old decision-making paradigms to keep them from achieving a goal. They’re not growing. They’re not changing. My challenge to you is to put yourself in my shoes. I strongly believe that how you do one thing is how you do everything. Imagine I gave you the same task—to interview twelve people and write a spontaneous love poem. What thoughts would be bubbling up in your mind? Would some of these thoughts that I mentioned here, some of these beliefs, and some of these obstacles, be part of your internal argument?

When was the last time you were really challenged by something? Did you talk yourself out of it? Did you use the same reasons my paradigm tried to use? I don’t have time, I’m not interested in this, I’m not good at this, I might get in trouble, I don’t want to do it alone. There’s nothing wrong with having those thoughts. The key is to recognize when you’re having them, and then decide, Do I want to believe this? Or do I want to choose something different?

The Three-Step Autopilot Buster There are three steps involved in breaking through your mental autopilot so you can take the wheel and take charge of your destiny:

  1. Set your GPS on a big huge goal. We talked about this in a previous post. You want a goal that is based on your deepest wants and desires. Something that is so beautiful, and so exciting and scary at the same time that you have no idea how you’re going to get there. I want you to have this beautiful vision with a timeline attached to it that’s going to be more powerful than any excuse you could come up with.
  2. Stop and assess. When you start facing those challenges and obstacles, I want you to pause, take notice, and ask yourself, How am I feeling? Is this an alignment with my goal? Is this what I want? And if not, what would I prefer? I did that, and started refocusing on why I needed to do this assignment. I didn’t want to keep doing the same thing over and over again, and keep getting the same results, or the same level of result. I wanted more, and you should, too, because that more is attached to your big goal.
  3. Push through your comfort zone. Take that first step, then take the next one. Don’t worry about what’s coming ten steps down the road. Just take one, and the next will reveal itself. Because when you face your terror barrier (something we have talked about before), and come out on the other side, you are becoming somebody else. Somebody who is growing and stretching and becoming their best self.

I’ll share with you in a future blog post how my assignment turned out. For now, try some of these powerful little lessons. I promise they will have such a tremendous impact on your life. If you’d like more, just follow this blog or my podcast, or visit RatRaceReboot.com for a free download and access to our newsletter. Until next time, remember, everything is created twice, first in your mind, and then in physical form.