Know How To Switch Off An Autopilot Life

As you’re reading this right now, there’s a good chance you’re focusing on this article. But how did you get here? More than likely you’re in autopilot mode. A lot of the articles I read are recommended to me through websites, publications or social media. In topics like productivity and better habits, we don’t deliberately plot which part of our lives we want to improve and perform better in. We arrive at those decisions because of confluence events. Even when we watch a new TV series, there’s no carefully calculated way we watch it. For example, ‘The Irishmen’ is a movie that has come out with actors who have played in historic movies like The Goodfellas and Scarface. We invest our time to watch The Irishmen because of the events that have led up to it. The marketing, the recommendations from friends, or even the nostalgia of watching those historic movies and the want to see our favourite actors in action again are all events that give us reasons without deeply thinking to watch it. Not plotting out in detail everything we do and every decision we make is a good thing, for the most part. So it’s important to know how to switch off an autopilot life when required.


Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash


What Autopilot Mode Does


Autopilot mode allows us to keep up with the demands of life. Imagine if every email response you make, you draft your reply in Microsoft Word, editing it and formatting it so it’s a perfect. It may be okay for important emails, but imagine if this was for a typical “Okay, sounds great” reply. What if we’re this deliberate when we go food shopping, take out the rubbish or fold our clothes. Autopilot mode guides us through actions like these. Up to 40% of our daily actions are habits, which shouldn’t require conscious deliberation. It’s impossible to live 100% intentionally all the time. Which is why it’s so important in how we manage our attention. We typically manage this on autopilot. 


As yourself this question;

How much of your day do you spend deliberately, deciding ahead of time what you want to do and when you’ll do it?


We all lead busy lives with constant demands and pressures. Yet we still find ourselves daydreaming, facebook scrolling multiple times a day and switching between meaningless apps and websites. While falling into autopilot mode can help us keep up with the constant demands of life, attention is our most constrained and limited resource. The more we manage our attention with intention, the more creative, productive and happier our lives become. This is why it’s important to recognise you’re making automatic decisions that don’t align with how you want to live and work. 


Signs You’re Living On Autopilot


You Don’t Know What’s Important To You

Your life is filled with one unconscious decision after another, so you don’t stop and think what’s most important to you. Often it takes unfortunate life situations for you to stop and think (death in the family, loss of a job, divorce, etc) to understand what’s important where you finally stop to take time out. Decide what you want your life to be like and prioritise the steps you need to take to get there. 


Your Routine Is Predictable 

Wake up. Have breakfast. Go to work. Come home. Eat dinner. Watch Tv. Go to bed. 

Your day is full of repetitive activities where there’s no thought process behind what you do. It’s “just another day”. People ask you what you’re doing tomorrow and it’s the exact same routine as today. Make room to improvise and think about your daily plan. 


You Can’t Let Go

You’re constantly doing what’s familiar to you. Being unable to remove yourself from unmotivated people around you, holding onto things you’ve outgrown and staying in the same career that isn’t helping you are all examples of not being able to let go.


You Waste Time

Letting your mind wander and allowing yourself to become distracted is perfectly normal, but also a sign you’re allowing it to control you. Think of the countless hours you’ve wasted from boredom, scrolling online and doing meaningless things daily. Those hours add up.


The Lack Of Motivation

You’re in a job you don’t love but it pays well. You’re happy with life’s comfort because it’s easy for you, so you lack motivation. Or maybe you’ve prevented yourself from chasing your goals and desires because of what you think others expect of you. Living your life this way ultimately causes a feeling of regret and unfulfillment.


You Don’t Have Time For The Things You Should Do

To change your life, you have to change your actions. You might already know what’s important to you but life gets in the way and you never have time to focus on them. Managing your attention on what’s important to you and prioritising helps you regain control over the important things. 


How To Stop Living An Autopilot Life


Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone

When we live life on autopilot, we forget to challenge ourselves. Boredom and repetition occur until one day we wake up and realise what we’ve missed out on. Learning occurs when you test your limits. So try new things. Practicing this brings new experiences to your life, giving it more thought and meaning. 


Change Your Routine

Most of us are all creatures of habit. We go the exact same way to work, sit at the exact same table, go to the exact same coffee shop every day. If we drive a different route, sit in a different cafe or change up our breakfast every now and then, it gives our minds a different thought and adjustment. It inspires us to think differently. It may be in a small way, but by changing up your routine every now and then, you start to think more and stop the feeling of being on autopilot every day. 


Set Intentions

Create daily intentions for yourself. Little steps in making the most of your daily intentions are foundations for bigger results. It could be finding meaning in your work, keeping your physical health at a level you’re happy with or be a risk-taker and courageous. Ultimately, the intention enables us to step out of autopilot mode and focus on what we want to get better at, working towards our goals. You can find a list of intentions here to get your thoughts going. 


How Does It Make A Difference?


When we start to notice positive effects in our lives, we are training our brains to come off autopilot mode. Although we can’t control traffic jams we’re on, or how people may act towards us. We can control how we show up in our daily lives to notice more than the traffic tram of how we’re treated by others. On top of that, we learn what we truly enjoy doing and gain more appreciation for our surroundings. 


Related: Stuck In A Rut? 3 Ways to Move Forward