Moving Off Auto-Pilot

Have you felt like you’ve put your life on auto-pilot? That’s how I’ve felt lately. Not that my life doesn’t have its share of challenges, but things are stable at home and at work. It’s simple to wake up and go through my day without giving much thought to what I’ll do, whom I’ll help or what I’ll accomplish.

Have you jumped in bed and thought “What did I accomplish today?” and you couldn’t remember a single detail of your day?  


I encounter fewer challenges the further I get into my career. My first job out of college was difficult. I struggled to manage a group of 20 part-time employees and made many mistakes. But I was given a lot of freedom, and my decisions had an impact on the store. I learned something new every day.

I’ve had a number of jobs since then, and each has become progressively less challenging. There’s no way I could have survived on auto-pilot while treading water at my first job. But today, I’m a decent manager. I don’t struggle with every personnel decision and I’ve learned how to play the corporate game.

Sometimes fatherhood feels like that first job where I scrambled to keep the store from falling apart. Situations that stressed me out with our first child I barely notice with our fourth. Maybe I have a better understanding of what’s important or I’ve been worn down by the previous three.

Tonight I was jolted back into manual mode. 

I was relaxing on the bed when Kim removed Kai from the tub, wrapped him in a towel like a burrito and placed him next to me. He couldn’t move or roll away from me. For several minutes he reclined next to me. His long curly hair was still damp. He giggled and smiled. As he looked into my eyes I wondered what he was thinking. Does he realize I’m his dad?

He must know how much he’s loved.

I see a bit of Kim in him. His facial structure reminds me of my father. If I look closely, I catch a glimpse of myself in his mischievous personality and wide grin that gets him out of trouble.

Kai finally wiggled an arm loose. Before he giggled, he reached over and pinched my nose.

Auto-pilot: Off.