Why Now is the Time to Take Your Life Off Cruise Control

cruise controlAre you going through life on cruise control? It’s easy to set your days up so you can push a button and then “drive” at the same speed no matter what without much thought. That sort of life can be pretty comfortable…as long as you remain satisfied.

However, at some point you will feel dissatisfied with your cruise-control life. Yes… You get to sit back, take your foot off the brake and gas, and rest your hands on the bottom of the steering wheel. You can shift your body around, and get comfy for the trip. You can relax, allow the car to do much of the work for you, and simply navigate and steer.

When you approach your life this way, it becomes comfortable…too comfortable. You move forward only at one set speed that feels relaxing and safe.

That’s okay for a while, but eventually dissatisfaction creeps in. You think: Maybe I could go a little faster…this speed feels kinda slow. I should go a different way…this path is boring. Perhaps I should take control of the gas pedal…sitting here doing so little isn’t very exciting.

But you don’t do any of those things. You avoid making changes, because doing things differently—turning off cruise control—would make you too uncomfortable. It would feel scary. And you can’t predict how quickly or slowly you will move forward, what the outcome will be, or how challenging your life journey will feel.

So you continue driving through life on cruise control.

You Don’t Really Want (or Like) Comfortable

You think you want a comfortable life. What you really want is a life that makes you feel vibrant and alive! You want a life that helps you step into your best self and live fully and vibrantly.

You want to get up in the morning, start your engine, take hold of the steering wheel, put your foot on the gas, and go! You want to be the one who dictates your speed, direction, and use of the brake. And you want to open the window and feel the wind in your hair as you drive toward your dreams.

And we all have dreams.

Sometimes, when you get comfortable, though, you don’t realize they are still with you. In fact, your dreams are still packed in the suitcase you put in the car when you set out to reach them. You may think you’ve forgotten your dreams or left them on the curb, but you haven’t.

However, you can’t achieve your goals if you go through life on cruise control. You can’t live life fully from that place of comfort. You can’t experience the sense of empowerment that comes from intentionally driving your car and arriving at your destination…not if you give control of your life to anyone or anything other than yourself.

When to Turn Off Cruise Control

The only time I use the cruise control option in my car is when I’m driving on a highway. It does a super job of managing my speed for me—so I avoid a speeding ticket due to my lead foot. I don’t have to continually watch the speedometer (or scan for police cars) and can navigate the trip in a much less stressful manner.

Cruise control makes my automobile trip more comfortable for sure.

However, driving with cruise control can become stressful in some situations. For instance, if traffic becomes heavy, the road gets curvy, or the weather conditions change, leaving the cruise control on can make me take a white-knuckle grip of the steering wheel and start sweating.

That’s why it’s possible to turn off cruise control. And you want to do so before having it engaged puts you in some stressful and dangerous situations.

You also want to disengage your cruise control when the ride through life gets a bit too comfortable, and you notice that, at your current speed and trajectory, you will not accomplish your goals. Or, even worse, you realize you’ve put that suitcase in the trunk and chosen to drive a different—easier and more comfortable—road through life.

Indeed, you need to know when to disengage cruise control for you life. I do so for all the reasons mentioned—heavy traffic, curvy roads, and bad weather. Also, I turn it off when being too comfortable starts making me a bit sleepy or causes me to pay less attention to the road than I should. I definitely turn it off when it impedes my ability to get to my destination safely and effectively—and when I remember and unpack my dreams.

In my life, I allow cruise control to make my journey more enjoyable. However, I don’t let myself get so comfortable that I stop paying attention or taking appropriate action to get where I want to go. If I think that is what will happen, I turn it off…fast! And then regulate my speed and direction intentionally.

Trim Tab Constantly

Airplane pilots know they can’t use cruise control—or autopilot—for very long without paying attention to where the plane is headed and at what speed. Air currents, turbulence, and other factors can knock the aircraft off course or create dangerous situations.

Therefore, the pilot has to always make little adjustments to keep the plane on course. Known as trim tabbing, this requires that the pilot stay aware of what’s going on and take action to be sure the plane and its passengers arrive at their destination on time.

You are just like a pilot. Yes, you can use autopilot, but you can’t rely on it 100%. In fact, you have to keep your eye on the road—or airspace—and adjust as necessary to reach your destination safely and on schedule.

The Risks

If you don’t pay attention and trim tab or turn off cruise control when necessary, you might find yourself in a heap of trouble. You could discover that you’ve crashed directly into something in front of you. You might drive off the road or not slow down—or speed up—in time. It’s also possible you might end up somewhere different than you expected.

Remember…I’m talking about your life on cruise control (or autopilot).

Continue driving through life on cruise control, and you might end up on your deathbed with the regret of not having lived fully. Fly your life on autopilot, and you may realize too late that you didn’t apply the gas to the projects and goals that meant the most to you—and now it’s too late to complete or achieve them. Continue at your current speed, and you may discover that the person in the passenger seat has been trying to get out of the car…but couldn’t because you never slowed down or stopped, making it possible to open the door and step out. Or you didn’t realize someone has been running alongside trying to get into your car, but you never slowed down or stopped so they could do so.

Also, when you use cruise control continually, you live a comfortable life, not a charged life. You have to disengage autopilot to take control of your life, the results you achieve, and how you show up in the world. When you turn off curise control, you can decide to stop or to speed up, and that ability can be exhilarating—especially if you decide to speed forward toward your dreams.

Your Mind on Cruise Control

Beware! Your mind really likes both cruise control and autopilot. It wants to follow the same path at the same speed without much difference in thought or action. It become addicted to to the ease and comfort of traveling through life at the same, reliable, and safe speed.

Indeed, your thoughts control the cruise control setting, and keep it turned on. They tell you: This is easy. Why change something comfortable? You know what I’ve told you before—you are stupid, you can’t do it, you aren’t good enough, you’ll fail—so, just leave the cruise control on. Don’t change anything. Let autopilot do the work for you.

If you want to realize your dreams, though, you must take control of your thoughts. Stop allowing them to keep you stuck in comfortable. Decide what to think and how to feel and behave. Stop cruising through life with beliefs and habits that do not help you realize your dreams.

This means you might have to go through the uncomfortable process of changing your thoughts and habits. You might have to face some fears and dispell some old beliefs. But the process of doing so will allow you to make decisions that help you live a life that will make you happy and fulfilled.

Midlife in Cruise Control

Many people each midlife and realize that they’ve using cruise control for years. That’s when they turn it off and put their foot on the gas…hard! It’s pedal-to-the-metal time to try and speed toward the results they wished they’d already achieved.

Don’t let that be you.

In your early 20s and 30s, I bet you sped along toward your dreams. By your 40s, it became easy to hit cruise control and hope for the best. By 50 or 60 (if you are that old…), you became used to autopilot. But at that point, you began to worry you would never make your dreams real—not without a lot of speeding tickets and reckless driving.

And by then, your thoughts and beliefs are firmly engrained. They keep you moving at just the same pace no matter what. And they do not want anything to change or become uncomfortable.

No matter your age, turn off cruise control now.

It’s Okay to Feel Uncomfortable

Somewhere between 56 and 58, I hit the cruise control button on my life. Yes. I was still moving forward, but I was doing so at a pace that didn’t get me where I wanted to go very quickly.

And I’d give up the driver’s seat. I was not controlling my destiny—at least not as well as possible. My fears, insecurities, and negative beliefs were driving my car. I let other people’s opinions have a turn in the driver’s seat as well.

To reach my potential and make my dreams come true, I had to take over the gas, brake, and steering wheel. I had to throw out the other drivers and disengage cruise control.

Now, that made me a bit uncomfortable, especially compared to the comfortable life I had experienced. But it’s okay to become a little less comfortable. Discomfort is a sign of growth. And, a little discomfort goes a long way toward getting you out of comfortable and into a a charged-up way of life. It makes you feel alive!

Without my cruise-control-life, I started feeling as if I had the ability to reach my goals. As I took back control of my life, I empowered myself to step into the person I had imagined I would become so many years before. And I unpacked the dreams I’d stowed in that suitcase in the trunk, and I started moving more quickly toward them.

The more I allowed myself to step on the gas—or apply the brakes—as necessary, the more alive I felt. I became excited, my passion returned, and my energy increased.

Take Back Control

Take a survey of your life. Is your life exciting and stimulating? Are you living fully and moving at a good clip toward your goals and dreams? Do you feel like you are growing? Do you wake up feeling pumped to start the day?

Even if you think you turned off cruise control a long time ago and are controlling the speed of your life journey, I bet there are a few areas of your life that could improve. You keep telling yourself they are “fine” just the way they are…but you know better.

Admit it. Something needs to change. You need to turn off the cruise control in those life arenas.

Or is your life comfortable? Are you afraid to move out of comfortable? Do your negative thoughts, limiting beliefs, and worries about what other people will think or what they have said previously have a hold of the gas pedal—and steering wheel—of your life? Are your past experiences driving or keeping you stuck in park? Do you believe it will be too hard to change anything? Do you worry that the grass won’t be greener on the other side?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it’s time to turn off cruise control. Commit to controlling your drive through life, so it becomes the life you want and deserve. Unpack your dreams from that dusty suitcase, put your foot on the gas, increase your speed, and speed toward your your dreams.

You’ve still got a lot of life to live. Don’t live it on cruise control.

If you aren’t sure how to turn off the cruise control or autopilot setting on your life, click here. I’d love to help you take back control so you can live fully and achieve your dreams and potential.

What have been the results of having your life on cruise control or turning off this setting? Tell me in a comment below.

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If you feel as if your life is on cruise control and you know there is another way…a better way, it’s time to take action…now. Give me an hour of your time, and I’ll help you see how to move toward a life well lived, a fulfilling life with no regrets. Apply for a one-hour FREE Certified High Performance Coaching strategy session. Fill out this application.

Or register for my Certified High Performance Group Coaching program here. It’s a great option if you don’t feel ready for one-on-one coaching and want to enjoy the power of group learning.

Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

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