Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the constant demands of modern life? The never-ending to-do lists, the pressures to excel in multiple domains, and the nagging feeling of being spread too thin? I know I have. Over the past few months, I found myself juggling a dozen projects, launching a business, studying for the GMAT, and taking on a couple of freelance projects.
At first, the thrill of multitasking and accomplishing multiple projects simultaneously was exhilarating. It fueled my ambition and inspired me to plan even more ventures. However, after six months of relentless pursuit, I found myself hitting a wall—a point of complete burnout and exhaustion. It was a wake-up call, forcing me to reevaluate the unsustainable pace I had set for myself. This experience led me to reflect on why I had failed and how to prevent it from happening again.
In my pursuit of understanding, I came across the concept of de-automization, It's about deliberately breaking free from the mindless autopilot mode that dominates our lives, taking a closer look at our habits, and reevaluating our relationship with technology and productivity.
So, here's what I've learned and the framework I've devised for sustainable deep work while maintaining happiness and fulfillment throughout the process.
Don't Chase Goals and Forget About the Journey
In our relentless pursuit of success, we often overlook the importance of the journey itself.
We are taught in school to fixate on the end goal, leaving little room for mindfulness and enjoyment along the way. We get trapped in autopilot mode, mindlessly chasing end. overlooking the significance of embracing the journey and finding fulfilment in each step.
how to break free from the goal-centric mindset and cultivate a more mindful approach to living?
A Framework for Sustainable Growth
Achieving sustainable growth requires defining our priorities and focusing our all of efforts on the few areas that truly matter. Rather than conforming to external expectations, we need to design a path that aligns with our core values and desires
You have the power to choose the key areas of your life that deserve your full and undivided attention and investment. From health and creativity to family and finances, it's time to build a unique blueprint that leads to a fulfilling existence
just like any investment, you have a finite amount to invest— in this case, it's your time and energy. Setting these constraints prevents you from spreading yourself too thin and forces you to prioritize your investments
Practically, this translates to picking only three areas of life to pour the entirety of yourself into. You can shift, rotate, and adjust the ratios of your focus based on observation. This leads us to the second point.
Have regular and frequent check-ins with yourself.
For me, part of mindfulness is measurement. This is the real key to keeping yourself on track and staying in touch with how you feel!
I recommend daily recaps (20 minutes) as part of your winding-down routine, a one-hour weekly recap, and a full day of quarterly check-ins.
During these check-ins, write down:
How do you feel physically?
How do you feel emotionally?
Have I been allowing myself to feel my feelings?
What are you grateful for?
What are you proud of?
What were your goals during this period?
How much have you achieved?
Why did you meet/couldn't meet your goals?
What can you improve?
Decide on which areas you want to continue, stop, or start.
An incredibly critical part of these check-ins is to follow the following ground rules:
You are not allowed to be negative towards yourself.
You are not allowed to wing it! Bring your data and be prepared.
This is your time, and it's highly important. Nothing is allowed to interrupt, delay, or take priority over this activity.
Learn how to set goals.
Most people struggle with setting goals. My advice is to follow the SMART framework. Briefly, SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound objectives that help individuals and organizations set clear targets and track progress effectively. By ensuring goals meet these criteria, you increase your chances of success and effective monitoring of progress.
How Self-Tracking Facilitates Deeper Understanding of Our Habits?
In our quest for deeper understanding and personal growth, self-tracking emerges as a powerful tool. By embracing the concept of the quantified self, we can gain valuable insights into our own behaviours, patterns, and progress it empowers us to make informed decisions, identify areas for improvement, and enhance our overall well-being.
I want to give a shout-out to Zeyad as he is the one made take this topic fairly seriously he has "noice" piece on self-tracking. Rotated Focus: Exploring the Power of Self-Tracking
The beauty of self-tracking lies in its ability to provide us with objective feedback and insights that might otherwise go unnoticed. It allows us to uncover hidden patterns and correlations between different factors, empowering us to make more informed decisions and changes in our lives.
Self-tracking serves as a powerful self-awareness tool. It brings our attention to the present moment and helps us become more attuned to our bodies, emotions, and thought patterns. By tracking our physical and mental states, we can identify triggers for stress, fatigue, or other negative experiences, enabling us to take proactive steps towards self-care and well-being.
However, it's important to strike a balance when engaging in self-tracking. It's not about becoming consumed by numbers or losing touch with our intuition and subjective experiences. Self-tracking should be a tool that supports and enhances our well-being, not a source of stress or obsession. It's essential to approach self-tracking with a curious and flexible mindset, adapting our tracking methods and goals as we learn more about ourselves.
De-automization The Quest for Presence
De-automization is an emerging concept that challenges our habitual reliance on technology and the autopilot mode in which we often find ourselves. It extends beyond our relationship with tech to consumption patterns, encompassing our interactions with social media, the ideologies being constantly sold to us, and even the impulse purchases we make. However, its significance goes far beyond happiness and mental health – it plays a crucial role in building habits that lead to success.
in simple terms, it refers to consciously breaking free from automatic and habitual behaviors, particularly about technology and consumption. It involves becoming aware of our patterns, choices, and actions and actively choosing to engage with them more intentionally and mindfully.
it's about regaining control over our actions, thoughts, and the way we interact with the world around us. It allows us to be more present, make informed decisions, and live a more balanced and fulfilling life.
Beyond productivity lies a world of greater presence, connection, and content
De-automization plays a crucial role in embracing slow living and shifting our focus from constant busyness to intentional living. It encourages us to step back from the relentless pursuit of productivity and reevaluate our priorities. Rather than measuring success solely by output and achievements, de-automization invites us to prioritize well-being, mindfulness, and meaningful experiences.
When I speak of embracing slow living, I am not suggesting a literal slowdown akin to being on "island time." Rather, it entails taking a step back from the rapid pace of modern life and engaging in a continuous process of self-evaluation and reflection—a sort of "thinking fast and slow" approach to living.
In the book "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman, he explores the dual systems of thinking that influence our decision-making processes. Fast thinking, characterized by automatic and instinctive responses, often dominates our daily lives. Slow thinking, on the other hand, involves deliberate analysis, weighing options, and considering long-term consequences. Embracing slow living means incorporating elements of slow thinking into our everyday choices, rather than being solely driven by impulsive, fast-thinking habits.
By incorporating slow living principles, we allow ourselves the space and time to make more considered decisions, pursue activities that truly resonate with us, and nurture meaningful connections. We learn to value quality over quantity, depth over superficiality, and presence over constant busyness.
In conclusion, dear reader, we've embarked on the path of de-automization, reclaiming mindfulness and purpose in our lives. By prioritizing key areas, conducting regular check-ins, and embracing SMART goals, we've laid the foundation for a fulfilling existence. Through the power of self-tracking, we've gained valuable insights and heightened self-awareness. As we journey beyond mere productivity, let us remember the essence of slow living and thoughtful decision-making. May your pursuit of de-automization bring you balance, contentment, and meaningful connections. Farewell, and may each mindful step guide your purposeful path.