Stopping the autopilot

There was a man called Scott who worked for a large insurance company. Every week was the same, day in, day out, same tasks, same boredom. The routine was constant and monotonous. Scott used to enjoy his job and he was good at it, loved getting up on a Monday and felt a passion for his company. Now he only felt irritation.

Scott knew he was on autopilot but had become institutionalised and numb to it all so kept to the routine, counting down the months and years, sneakily checking the internet when no-one was looking, same old, same old.

Until one Tuesday, talk was circling of a re-structure and Scott was made redundant 2 years short of retirement with no warning signs. He felt angry but most of all this was with himself. The autopilot had failed.

This can so easily happen to all of us. We go from enthusiasm and interest in our work to a sense of the mundane and clocking in to clock out. Think about your work and the routine that it sometimes presents to the deadlines that we can't ignore. Sometimes we may lose the passion for it and our interest falters.

What can we learn from Scott to basically keep the autopilot off?

Firstly, evaluate your reality. Are you feeling challenged in a good way or finding that some of the stuff that you do you could do in your sleep? Is the next thing you remember after leaving the house in the morning getting on the train to go home? Notice what you enjoy and what you find mundane. You need to know what excites you to get that excitement back then...

Ask for more. Volunteer for the new project that your department will be involved in or just discuss your desire to help out on anything new that is coming up for your team. Your boss can only say no but will remember your initiative and hopefully they will remember this when something else comes up. If they don't, ask again.

Similarly, ask for more training if it's available. If not, see what else is available out there for free. Take that time that you're sneakily searching the internet and use it productively. There may be a course or talk that you've been meaning to attend, one that will challenge you and take away the routine. Training will always be of some use, even just to add to your CV.

Find out your alternatives. What if you've evaluated that the mundane outweighs the excitement and you need a change. Speak to someone. Use a business coach to help you help yourself or talk to your HR person. They may have a similar role or one that you'd be completely capable of doing that you'd be perfect for. They just hadn't considered you as they didn't know you were looking for something new.

Don't be like Scott. Don't let the routine take over. Change can be the hardest thing to embrace but we must otherwise you'll wake up one morning having lost 5 years of your life. Talk to people and dip your toe in the water. A different perspective is beyond valuable.

Or it could be you, years down the line, same role and on autopilot about to crash.


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