In order to become a better and happier version of ourselves, we first have to identify the areas of our lives that we are not satisfied with – where we have succumbed to “living on automatic.” Let me illustrate with a story.

My husband and I enjoy kayaking together on the ocean near our home in the Pacific Northwest. There is nothing more beautiful than being out on the water on a warm summer evening as the sunlight shimmers on the ocean while making its descent. It is easy to get mesmerized by the beauty of the ocean and forget to watch the tides. On more than one occasion when I’ve stopped paying attention to where I was going, the pulling tides have grabbed the kayak and started carrying me out to sea. When that happens, I suddenly find that I am much further off shore than I ever planned to be.

We Get Caught up in All of the ‘To-Do’s

Our lives can be like my kayak experience. We get caught up in the busyness of life – running a company, raising a family, making time for friends, being involved in our community, and all the demands this puts on us, that we stop really paying our full attention to where we’re going. Sometimes it happens quickly, but more often gradually, and then we wake up one day in a place we never intended to be. We didn’t mean to gain the 30 pounds; it came through habits that formed automatically over many years. We never intended to end up in an estranged relationship or divorce. We wanted to be there for all the growing up moments of our kids, but work got in the way and now they are graduating. In many areas of our lives, we were just cruising along automatically, and after a period of time, found ourselves in completely different places than where we ever wanted to be.

How do We Stop Living on Automatic?

Living on automatic may not seem like a big deal, but when you see where it can take you it grabs your attention. Becoming aware of it and realizing how easy it is to get off course will make you more attentive to your actions going forward. Fixing an automatic life requires us to be fully aware and intentional so that we don’t drift.

There are seven main areas of life that you need to focus on and bring together in order to live intentionally and grow and reach your maximum potential.

As you review each of these areas, identify where you have been living on automatic and need to make changes.

  1. Physical
  2. Mental
  3. Spiritual
  4. Family & Friends
  5. Career/Business
  6. Financial
  7. Fun & Recreation

In order to transition to intentional living, and achieve the full and abundant life we desire, we need to first understand where in our lives the unconscious, automatic living is hurting us. Then we can learn how to break the pattern and wake up, if you will. Once we’re awake, we can decide to live intentionally.

Originally published on Quora.


  • Janelle Bruland

    Entrepreneur, Leadership Coach, Author, Speaker, Podcast Host, & Co-Founder of Legacy Leader

    Janelle Bruland is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, and high-performance coach who inspires others to live impactful and successful lives. She is Founder and CEO of Management Services Northwest, a company she started in her living room in 1995 and has grown into an industry leading company, named one of the Fastest Growing Private Companies by Inc. magazine. The CPO of Microsoft, Mike Simms, describes her as a true pioneer in her field. Janelle is also the Co-Founder of Legacy Leader, a leadership development company that teaches business professionals how to build a legacy, transform their leadership, and love their life. She is the author of The Success Lie: 5 Simple Truths to Overcome Overwhelm and Achieve Peace of Mind.
    Janelle is a lifelong resident of Whatcom County, Washington and is married with five children. In her leisure time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, golf, as well as keeping fit through various sports and activities.