Offer Me Solutions, Offer Me Alternatives

You’re in a rut!

Or at least, it’s very likely. Because we all are. We auto-pilot so many things; we have to or we’d go insane. We simply have too many things to do to consciously think our way through each and every one. But it’s worth adjusting that mental auto-pilot on occasion!

Let me give an example from my own life: My oldest daughter takes karate lessons. For a few reasons, we chose a school that isn’t conveniently located near our home (it’s awesome in every other way). When my wife and I were first taking the Beansprout to her lessons, we followed our GPS through the unfamiliar route until it became familiar enough to stop using the device; 2 or 3 trips each maybe. The trip took a little over 20 minutes each way (yes, that’s a ridiculous commute for karate lessons, and yes, it’s absolutely worth it to everyone involved).

Ever since, I’ve been taking that same route. I never really thought about it. But one day, I happened to have to go somewhere that was very close to the karate school for unrelated reasons. I plugged that address into my GPS, and lo and behold the trip took barely over 10 minutes; it was mostly along one freeway, and the place was right off an exit. And sure enough, that place happened to be only a few blocks from the karate school. It turns out that the exit had been closed for construction for just about exactly the few weeks when we were first taking the Beansprout to her lessons; as a result, GPS was re-routing us through back roads that took nearly double the time. But we were on auto-pilot, and never really thought about it.

Once I had reason to re-examine the route, it turns out there was a way better one. I was already willing to take the longer route, so getting a shorter one was all upside!

The thing is, there are probably dozens of instances in our lives where we’re doing something on auto-pilot because we’ve done it that way for a while and haven’t really thought about it. And it’s true that if we try to actively, consciously think about every little decision in our day to day lives we’ll go mad from stress.

But pick one! Just today, pick one thing you do on auto-pilot and examine it. Your route to work? What you eat for lunch? A piece of software you use for a certain task? Your brand of deodorant? Anything! Just pick something and give some serious thought to whether or not there’s a better way. There might not be anything major to be gained, but then again there might be. Or there might be a minor improvement, and single drops of water make The River, after all. So pick something and improve it.

Then do it again tomorrow.

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