Turn Off Autopilot

February 03, 2021

Humans have an incredible ability to run on autopilot.

With sufficient skill, you can perform any activity with almost zero active attention.

When you first learn to drive, the rules of the road require your exclusive focus. After the beginner stages, the difficulties become automatic. You no longer need to worry about staying in your lane, and listening to a podcast becomes effortless.

This autopilot functionality is a blessing and a curse. It diminishes the cognitive load required to perform a task, but it comes at the cost of rigor.

Once you go on autopilot, you stop improving.

Of course, you may still see benefits from a long term habit. Running everyday may help you lose weight, but if you don't run with enough intensity and focus, you won't get faster.

Applying rigor is not easy.

Driving your body the old-fashioned way drains you. I find I only have the energy for one, maybe two deliberate practices in my life at any given time.

Once you reach such a plateau, you face a decision: go through the motions or hold your practice accountable. Watching a movie every day won't turn you into a film critic. Rigorously examining a movie every week will.


© 2020 Connor Daly