In today’s world, it can be easy to dive into overworking and overcommitting. We live in a society where it can feel like if you’re not constantly on the move, you’re falling behind. However, it is becoming all too common to use high productivity as a mask, or as a way to avoid dealing with and processing painful emotions. The truth is, being stuck on autopilot or even just using busyness as a distraction from dealing with your feelings, is actually a waste of your valuable time.
The Cost of Living on Autopilot
A recent study indicated that of the three thousand people surveyed, over ninety-five percent admitted that they felt they were living their life on autopilot. The reflexive decisions that are made on autopilot can range from anything to the clothes we decide to wear, to what we eat and even who we eat with.
But what does it really mean to be on autopilot and what cost is it to our lives?
Simply put, when you’re on autopilot- you’re essentially letting your brain’s automatic functions run your entire life. From your daily practices to your thought process and even the decisions you make in real time. This type of lifestyle may feel comfortable and familiar in many ways but it’s likely that if you haven’t already, you will soon grow weary. When in this state of being for too long, you will find yourself missing parts of your life and letting opportunities pass you by. This is why flying on autopilot is such a detriment to your life; it no longer feels as though it is yours. Years may pass before you’re fully aware of the problem or are able to fix it.
How Can I Tell If I’m On Autopilot?
At this point you might be wondering how to tell if you have been on autopilot. The truth is if you have been, you’re not alone. According to Dr. Mark Williamson, the Director of Action for Happiness, running on autopilot is a growing issue and it doesn’t appear to be going away on its own. Here are a few ways to tell if you might be running on autopilot:
- You dread getting out of bed in the morning.
- Your days are fairly predictable.
- You often complete tasks without even thinking about them.
- You get lost in your thoughts.
- You have difficulty remembering things.
- It’s hard for you to let go of the things that no longer serve you.
- You haven’t made any significant progress towards your goals in some time.
- You overcommit to things and have a hard time saying no to others.
- You are always on your phone or device.
- You sort-of know that you’re missing out.
Now that you know what autopilot is, what it’s costing you, and how to tell if you’ve been on autopilot, now let’s take a look at what you can do to pull yourself out.
How To Get Out and Stay Out of Autopilot?
With the intention to start living a life full of choice and joy, it’s important to learn not only how to get out of autopilot mode, but how to stay out of it. Here are six small things you can do that will lead to a happier and overall more fulfilling life.
Prioritize What is Most Important to You – On Paper
You can start small; a list of your top ten priorities. Don’t feel like you need to limit yourself, this can be anything related to careers, family, relationships, personal goals or anything else that holds value to you.
Although it may feel tedious, you’ll want to keep track of how you spend your time for at least a few days. Once completed you will be ready to perform a self audit.
Here is where you’ll want to compare your two lists. If you are noticing that the time you’ve spent over the last few days doesn’t seem to align with your values, or with what is most important to you- it’s time to make a change.
Tempting as it may be to take your list and try to complete a total life make-over overnight, this isn’t the best approach for long lasting and sustainable change. You’ll want to start with one or two smaller, realistic changes that you can make and really hone in on how to make those changes to your routine. It might not go exactly as planned, many things won’t. Just stay as consistent and you’ll find that your new daily habits become second nature.
Break Up With Your Devices
This is said to be one of the harder steps but don’t let that deter you. Taking time to be away from and without your phone can do wonders for your mental health while also starting to break the habit of reaching for your device and mindless scrolling.
Engage in Play
Just like when you were a child, engaging in play is an exercise that will stimulate your imagination and desire to try new things. Do your best to ignore the feeling of shame or silliness; just be. You can start by taking a mindful stroll or simply by spending time outside and engaging with nature. See where this leads you.
Now that we have concrete steps that we can take toward leaving autopilot, it’s time to take a look at what adjustments can be made to ensure you are creating a better life for yourself in the long term. It’s important to know that you deserve a life that brings you joy and that you are worth taking the steps to get there.
How to Live More Intentionally
When you’ve been living on autopilot for an extended period of time, the days can feel long even though years seem to fly by. In order to combat this, you’ll want to leverage small daily habits to better your life. With a bit of determination and consistency, these actions can make a significant impact:
Create A Foundation of Small Daily Actions
You’ll want to start by considering your ideal day from beginning to end. Imagine in detail what tasks would make your life more meaningful and or productive. It could be as simple as integrating 30 minutes of exercise or meditation. The important thing is that you remain consistent.
Express Gratitude Each Day
Ideally you’ll want to do this in the morning when you first wake up. Consider journaling three things that you are grateful for and then following your gratitude entry with an intention setting entry. Writing is powerful, putting pen to paper can actually help solidify ideas in your mind, making them easier to stick to.
Design A Simpler Life
The people pleasers and the procrastinators are going to struggle with this one at first but know that purposefully choosing what is allowed into your life and how it shapes your life can be truly transformative. Start to say no to extra projects, outings, or events that bring you no joy. Plan ahead for tasks that must be completed, so that they are done in a timely manner rather than leaving you stressed and struggling to meet a deadline. Set aside time specifically for rest, and recovery.
If living on autopilot and emotional numbing are problems that you struggle with, we can help. Reach out for an appointment by clicking this link. To learn more about how to manage your emotions, check out the link below: