Habits: Shooting Your Life in Automatic vs. Manual

Lets talk habits!

Our lives are full of thousands of little habits:

Wake up: Push snooze twice, roll out of bed, take a shower, brush teeth…

Exercise: Go to the gym, take the same class, use the same machines…

Work: Drive the same way to get there, park in the same spot, work on the same reports…

Family: Dinner at the same time, Monday is pasta, Tuesday is rice, Feed the kids, clean the kitchen, read some books, watch a show…

Some habits seem so inconsequential, in fact, we hardly even notice them. (I brushed my teeth this morning….didn’t I? I don’t remember it, but it is so ingrained in me….)

Essentially we are like a camera with the settings in automatic. I am assuming most of you who come to this site know what I mean. (I’m not the camera professional, but I’ve picked up a few things from having a sister who is). This isn’t a bad thing. I mean, my camera works just fine in automatic and my life seems to be going almost decently with out messing too much with my own settings. Or is it?

Last night at a quarter to ten, I could have been found throwing my pen at the wall and yelling “AHHHHHHH” out of frustration. I have been working on this writing project for so long and it is going no where. I have seen dishes wash themselves faster.

So as not to wake my sleeping baby, I retrieved the pen and started scribbling in my journal about all of my frustrations. I wanted to wrangle this problem to the ground, tie its feet together, throw my hands up in the air, and listen to the crowd cheer.

Obviously, I needed to get off the horse to do this. I started looking at my life critically and with an honesty sieve so fine that what ended up in my mind were all these chunky habits that I had thought were just inconsequential: the blogs I read that used to be useful but are now ways that I let myself waste time; the people that I surround myself with and how certain things they do influence me and my work because they change they way I feel about myself; the habits of organization that do or do not exist pertaining to my goal….All of these things that I do absentmindedly as if I was shooting my life in automatic–just letting the presets have control.

The thought occurred to me as I asked myself a hard question, “Could I really be strong enough, focused enough, resolved enough, to completely edit these things out of my life?”

It would take mindfulness about my actions. It would take honestly about some of my daily habits and their actual results. If I could add more positive habits to my life and delete the negative, it would be like shooting my life in manual. I needed to change the BALANCE and let more light in. I needed to change my DEPTH OF FIELD so that my goal was the object of focus. Then, with those things in line I could have control of my final composition. I could even be artistic!

After resolving to be more mindful of the little things, I was surprised at how much closer I felt to my goal. It was a good indication, as if I knew all along that it was I who had set up some obstacles along the way and that it was I who needed to remove them.

It is empowering to have self control.

It is empowering to not leave things to chance.

It is empowering to discover what shooting your life in manual can mean.

biophotoLindsey Maughan is a mango enthusiast with a composite degree in modern and ballroom dance from BYU. She believes that when you read books you should take notes in the margins, that sandwiches taste better when cut on the diagonal, and that most mundane tasks can be improved upon with the right background music.

She lives with her tall, dark, and logical husband, and her almond eyed, airplane loving daughter in Hawaii. In April of this year they will welcome a second child, a boy, into the family. Both parents hope he will grow to love hiking, vacuuming, and Indian food.

Lindsey loves her jogging stroller, her ipod, good books, her journal, music, writing, dancing, cooking, yoga, and going on dates with her husband.

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Brooke Snow

Brooke Snow


As a photographer, she’s been published in Where Women Create and Where Women Cook magazines, featured on the Huffington Post, The $100 Startup, and is a regular contributor to her local NBC lifestyle show Studio 5. A sought after instructor and speaker, when she’s not putting the magic into her next presentation, you can find her drooling over organic recipes, hiking with a mountain buggy carrying precious cargo, and hanging out in her Farm House with her fabulous little clan in Northern Utah.

Her free course Living a Thriving Life is the perfect anecdote for those seeking balance in the midst of chaos. Discover how to create meaning in both your photos and your life at brookesnow.com.
Brooke Snow

Latest posts by Brooke Snow (see all)

  • Marvett Smith - I love this! This is exactly what I needed to think about today since I’ve been feeling like I’m in a rut lately. Thank you for the motivation.

  • Harmony - Brooke, thanks for letting Lindsey have a say on your blog. She writes beautifully, and she makes me think!

  • Alesa Larsen - How funny that I just started a class called moving into manual today. Thanks for inspiring me to take the leap.

  • Kirby - Awesome article! It is very inspiring!

  • heather - love the way she writes! actually both of you have very good writing talents, something I lack. i guess that’s why i take pics… I just let the pics to the talking! 🙂

  • Kylene - Perfect analogy. I think it’s also important to try new things in that manual mode. I have a friend who is a photographer who said the other day that her knowledge of manual mode and the way she shoots has become, “so ‘automatic’ it’s second nature”. This article made me think that yes, shoot in manual! Yes, take control! BUT, if we find ourselves becoming so automatic in manual mode, we may lose some creative opportunities. If we fail to try different settings or different combination’s of settings we may miss out on that “perfect shot”. Thanks for another great mid-week motivator.

    (and I think Brooke looks like you!) 😉

  • Danielle - hey Lindsay, I happened upon this blog thru sarah madsen…she’s my facebook friend 🙂 anyway, I loved reading what you had to say. So fun! congrats on a new baby in april! Hope all is well…I see your mom once in a while, she’s so fun to hang out with 🙂

  • ajira - here’s to living life in manual!

  • Bethany - haha I’m sitting here trying to figure out where I know lindsay from..did i dance with her? did i go to school with her? and after a couple days i finally figured it out…..we were in the same ward in iowa! i moved away right before she had noel. this is such a fun post. love seeing her update!!

  • Morgan - Hi. Do you remember me? We used to be friends. 😉 Glad I ran into this little “catch up” – you’re still my precious swan. Love ya!

  • Lindsey - Wahoo! I love finding old friends. Thanks everyone for leaving me a comment. I am visiting all your websites and will leave you a note when the toddler isn’t trying to break into the food storage.

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