Are You Living Life on Autopilot?

Are You Living Life on Autopilot?

Living life on autopilot means making decisions and going through our day without considering whether our choices make us feel happy or fulfilled. On autopilot life seems to happen to you, rather than you making life happen.

Now, autopilot can be helpful when doing the same thing over and over again, but it’s not helpful when we want to do something differently or want to change things and drive different results. Over time, the unconscious decisions we make can shape our lives, relationships, and the course of your career.

Do you find yourself doing the same routine day after day, not remembering the day before or stopping to think what you’re doing or why you’re doing it? Have you ever forgotten why you walked into a room or why you agreed to something? Do you ever wonder how you got to where you are now? If you answered ‘yes’, you’re probably operating on autopilot.

The Autopilot Britain study found that people on autopilot fall into Pleasers, Pacers, and Passengers. (Warrell, 2017)

Pleasers find it difficult to say ‘no’ and find their obligations becoming a To-Do list that they eventually resent. They have so many commitments to meet that they fail to focus on what’s important.

Pacers are constantly busy with ‘what’s next’ packing in as much as they can in their day. They live life ‘doing’ rather than ‘being’.

Passengers often find it difficult to decide and choose and go along the path of least resistance. Wanting to avoid discomfort and disapproval, they follow and allow others to dictate their choices.

The sad part about living life on autopilot, is that you don’t even know that you’re doing it half the time. There exists a disengagement to the present moment. You’re going through the motions unsure if there’s more or how to get it.  So how do you switch from autopilot to conscious decisions?


Do what you can to stop responding immediately to a request and informing the other person that you’ll get back to them later. Setting boundaries reduces the pressure to give in to others and feeling you must live up to their expectations. 

It also brings you back to ‘being in the moment’ and assessing what you really want to do. Setting goals is also helpful because it reminds you what you are moving towards. Every time you want to say ‘yes’ look at your goals to see if it moves you toward or away from your plans. A goal could be making time for a hobby or enjoying some downtime.


Being constantly on the go can be exhausting and one way to switch gears is to give yourself breaks for some ‘you’ time. Consciously slow yourself down which can be in the form of relaxation or spending quality time with someone. It’s about taking time out to be present. Giving yourself some downtime boosts your productivity, focus and concentration.


Try taking on something that is new and meaningful to you like a hobby, something that improves your health and wellbeing. It could be taking a walk or riding a bike in a new area. 

The idea is to make the decision to do something yourself and take your own lead. Base your decisions on “what do I want to do right now?”. This can boost your confidence and help you overcome discomfort.

If you are on autopilot, there’s likely a reason why. Maybe your life is out of balance…either too stressful, too complicated, too boring, or you have surrendered your life to the “routine”. Take one day this week and really think about your life. How can you shake things up? How can you make it interesting? How can you get back in balance and in love with your life again?

Living an intentional life takes time and practice. Make a conscious decision to live your life by design rather than by default.

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