Carman: Suffering from AS (autopilot syndrome)

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By Donna Carman

I popped a bag of popcorn before I sat down to write this column, not really having any idea what it was going to be, only knowing that the clock was ticking and I had to write one. So I sat here and stared at the computer monitor and pondered several subjects — the weather, more New Year’s resolutions, the local garbage issue ......
Suddenly, the bowl of popcorn was gone.
Where did it go?
Did someone come in my office and gobble it up while I was pondering what to write about?
Probably not.
Other than a couple of the staff taking a few bites, I mindlessly ate the rest of it, chewing away on “autopilot.”
And that made we wonder, what other things do we do in our day-to-day lives that are on autopilot, so to speak?
How many times have you driven from Point A to Point B, and then had no recollection of doing so? I have.
This most often occurs between home and work, when my mind is filled with what I have just finished, or what I still need to do. Suddenly, I’m home (or at the office), and I don’t remember driving by all the familiar landmarks to get there.
Yep, the autopilot was on.
If you work a job that requires repetitive motions, you’ve probably experienced the autopilot syndrome too.
How about the nightly routine with the kids? Dinner, homework, bath time, bed.
Laundry? (Hey, it would be nice to put that chore on autopilot.)
Grocery shopping? Ever wander through the aisles debating on what to buy, and suddenly you’re finished, and still don’t have anything to eat when you get back home?
These are all rather frivilous things (well, maybe driving on autopilot is not so frivilous), but how often do we go through our day in that repetitive, autopilot mode? It’s very easy to do. Repetition is our “comfort zone” and not many of us want to get out of it.
So, here’s a challenge, and I’ll take it too.

Starting today, make up your mind to alter at least one thing from your daily life.
For example, if you’re a walker (and good for you, if you are) and you take your walk first thing in the morning, take it in the evening instead. It might shed a different light on what you see and get you out of that autopilot mode.
What am I going to alter? How about writing this column before 5 p.m. on a Monday, so that I can actually come up with a real subject and not randomly throw words on the page?