Wake up, eat, work, shower, sleep. Start over the next day and repeat. Each day becomes a routine. Life becomes an automated experience.
Most people do not consciously choose their automated life. Instead, people mindlessly react to it. Reacting is an unconscious response that is ingrained into your psyche through society's beliefs, norms, and values.
For example, joining your colleagues for happy-hour may boost your profile, but you'd spend time with family. Or agree to a marriage proposal because you are at the right age. Or taking on extra work because you're taught to not challenge people in authority.
To live consciously, you need to stop reacting and start responding.
Responding is a conscious action after contemplation. When you contemplate, your actions become considerate, deliberate and purposeful. Your response signal to others your boundaries, priorities and values.
You can respond mindfully rather than follow your unconscious reactions like a slave when life throws opportunities and challenges. Stop the automation and start leading a conscious life.
To do this, you can begin by reflecting on this question
How do I want to spend my days?
Inspired by James Clear's Atomic Habits