If you feel like you’re stuck on autopilot, you’re not alone. According to a study by Daniel Gilbert and Matthew Killingsworth, 46.9% of people are unhappily mind wandering at least 30% of the time. In order to live a life with intention, it’s important to make sure you don’t slip into autopilot mode too often.
Occasionally, being on autopilot isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, developing habits reduces the cognitive load on your brain, freeing it up for additional tasks. This helps you become more productive and get more done. Your brain spends so much time doing and forgets to focus on being, living, awareness and insight. It moves into autopilot and before you know it, the day is over, the sun has set and you’ve missed another opportunity to enjoy the day.
Identifying when you’re on autopilot
Before you can take an active role in living with intention, you need to identify when you’re stuck on autopilot. Here are 7 ways to quickly identify when you’re being insincere or moving through life on autopilot.
- You’re bored—You feel unchallenged, but continue to check things off your list because others expect you to.
- You’ve become your parents—You’ve made decisions in your life to please other people and when you look in the mirror you see their successes instead of yours.
- The future looks unappealing—You’re dissatisfied with your life as you envision it in the next few years.
- Nothing changes—You have a consistent pattern, doing the same activities day after day.
- Lacking passion—You’re not excited about anything and feel envious of others when they post how great their life is on Facebook.
- Time slips away—You’re so focused on the tasks at hand that by the time you look up from your computer, you realized that you missed an important meeting, lunch or dinner.
- Unconsciousness or forgetfulness—You don’t know how you got to your destination and don’t remember anything in between.
Turning off autopilot
Once you’ve identified when you’re on autopilot, you can make active choices that help you achieve exactly what you want out of life. Differentiate yourself from others by learning how to raise your awareness and seize moments of opportunity by following the steps below.
- Know yourself—Set the foundation for your authentic life by recognizing your inner voice and core values.
- Imagine a better future—Imagine where you want to be in 3, 5 and 10 years and write down a specific scenario that includes the place, people and things you’re doing.
- Create a plan—Knowing your core values and your dreams for the future, write down 3 action steps that you can take today or in the next 30 days that will help you get there.
- Focus on the few—Reduce distraction and increase your chances of success by focusing on the critical few.
- Eliminate negativity—Challenge your negative inner voice and create a plan of action to address unresolved issues.
- Stick to the plan—Articulate and refine your values so that you can respond to situations with a clear sense of self.
- Grow and learn—Take the leap to learn something new when you feel stuck along your journey as you encounter new untraveled roads.
- Celebrate—Take time to pause and celebrate every win before you move to the next item on your to-do list.
- Monitor progress—Check progress against your goals each week and close gaps where you find them.
- Get support—Sometimes it’s hard to see what’s right in front of you and support from a friend, spouse, colleague or coach will help you make progress.
- Live today—There is only one today so remember to stop to enjoy it before it turns into tomorrow.
While there are great applications for your autopilot mode, never turning it off leads to missed opportunities and a life’s journey without a view. Living with intention means that you navigate your own road. It may be bumpy with a few unexpected turns, but the journey is filled with the wind in your hair, the freedom of change and the frequent stops along the way.
Have you caught yourself on autopilot lately? I’d love to hear how you snapped out of it in the comments.