02/14/2012 04:41 pm ET | Updated Apr 15, 2012

The Great Contact Lens Solution Epiphany About Consciousness

Two weeks ago, I forgot to bring my contact lens case to the eye doctor. So they gave me one of theirs to store my contacts in during the exam.

It was much smaller than my normal case, which was the kind you get for free with the solution. But it worked fine. When I got home I stuck the case, with my lens in it, on the counter and promptly forgot about it.

I don't wear contacts everyday, just when I go into the real world to meet with clients. So I didn't look for the case until a week later, when I was packing for a trip.

I opened it and was about to transfer the lens into my normal case, when it struck me, one case was much deeper than the other. The free case from the solution company -- the one I normally used -- took three times as much solution to fill it.

Marketing genius.

Full disclosure, I'm not a doctor, but it sure looked to me like my lenses were doing just fine in their smaller space. There they were, perfectly moistened, oblivious to the fact that they were no longer swimming in an Olympian pool of solution.

Look, I don't have an axe to grind with solution providers. They make great stuff, you can buy it at the airport, and they save me from wearing granny glasses in public.

I'm a sales person at heart. I love the idea that someone said, "Hey, if we make the cases a little deeper, we'll sell more solution." But my contact solution epiphany does give me pause. It makes me wonder, in how many other areas of my life am I just going through the motions? How much of our lives are being lived unconsciously, using up stuff, spending time and going along with what we assume we're supposed to do?

My unconscious solution usage was costing me $20 a year and a few extra trips to the store. Not a tragedy, but the consequences of other unconscious behaviors may be more costly. How many rules are we following, or assumptions are we accepting, without even realizing it?
Try this experiment: For the next 24 hours, pay attention to everything you do and ask yourself, "Why?" Why am I buying this? Why am I using this? Why am I doing this? If the answer is "Because you're supposed to," look more carefully.

Being unconscious about some things is a good strategy, it frees up your brain for more important decisions. But if you're unconscious about everything, you wind up letting other people script your entire life. The marketers will tell you what to buy, the politicians will tell you what to think, and assumptions from your past will determine your future.

The truth is, you don't have to rinse and repeat. You don't have to win every fight. You don't have to eat at 6 p.m. You don't have to work at a traditional job. You don't have to squelch your feelings. You don't always have to have a car payment, and you don't have to change your oil every 3,000 miles. My husband does it every 6,000, and he's gotten over 250,000 trouble-free miles out of his 1994 classic Lexus. No car payments for a decade, and half the time and money at the Speedy Lube.

It pays to be a little more conscious in your decision-making.

For more by Lisa Earle McLeod, click here.

For more on mindfulness, click here.

(c) Lisa Earle McLeod

Lisa Earle McLeod is a sales leadership consultant. Companies like Apple, Kimberly-Clark and Pfizer hire her to help them create passionate, purpose-driven sales forces.

She the author of The Triangle of Truth, which the Washington Post named as a "Top Five Book for Leaders."

She has appeared on The Today Show, and has been featured in Forbes, Fortune and The Wall Street Journal. She provides executive coaching sessions, strategy workshops, and keynote speeches.

Copyright 2012 Lisa Earle McLeod. All rights reserved.