I can't remember who told me this when I was in college, but I remember how much it stopped me in my tracks.
Be careful not to live your life on autopilot. Otherwise, you'll drift through each day in a daydream until, one day, you'll blink and wake up 40.
I recently celebrated my 39th birthday, so these words are particularly apropos. I've long known the value of things like living a purpose-filled life and the power of building momentum through unwavering habits.
And still, it's easy to get distracted in life. One day you take a small diversion off the straight and narrow and blink. You find yourself X days, weeks, months, years, or a decade later still lost in a rabbit hole while the path you were walking awaits you.
This is not a time to beat yourself up. It happens to the best of us, even when we have good intentions. For me, writing is one of my passions. I know the value of honing this craft daily (even if it's not for public consumption). The more I write, the more I strengthen this muscle, and the more creative I become (among other benefits).
And yet if you were to tab through my website, you will see a consistent pattern. There will be bursts of time where there are regular posts, and then there are huge gaps. This is where life gets busy, or I overcommit to too many things. The urgent takes precedent over the important. Or I try to do so much that my body eventually gets exhausted, and I get sick, forcing me to reset and re-evaluate priorities.
I've hit the reset button so many times that I have lost count. This is not a self defeatist statement. It's more an observation that I keep in mind as new opportunities come my way. Can I add this while still keeping my commitments to myself? My wife? My kiddo? My company? It's a hard discipline because my ambition almost always exceeds my (current) capacity.
Still, as I enter the last lap around the sun before I turn 40, I keep the sage advice in mind… to not let myself slip into autopilot. To live intentionally versus become reactive to life and enter a sleepwalk.
You can hit the reset button too. And we're all going to mess up and slip into old patterns again and again. So it's OK to keep hitting the reset button until you find yourself sticking to the straight and narrow and saying no to all the alluring yet unnecessary side quests of life.
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About Rick Manelius
Quick Stats: CTO of Contact Mapping. Author of Winning the Lottery Within. Graduated from MIT in '03 (BS) and '09 (PhD). Life hacker and peak performance enthusiast. This blog is my experiment in creative writing, self-expression, and sharing what I've learned along my journey. For more information, read my full bio here or contact me.