It happens more often than you think. Being busy and distracted at the same time, you tend to follow your predictable daily routine without reflecting on how you are feeling or what you are doing. The time flies and you can’t even remember what you did throughout the day; you’ve stopped caring about anything very much, you’d rather binge-watch Netflix than think about what’s next.
Sounds familiar? It’s called living on autopilot.
Yes, sometimes being creatures of habit and routine might work well because our brain can’t be overloaded with tasks and decisions, however, following that default path will only lead to a lack of life excitement as well as not help you to make progress in your life.
Autopilot is a growing problem – said Dr Mark Williamson, Director of Action for Happiness and contributor to the study Autopilot Britain. – It has gone from being an evolutionary protection mechanism that stopped our brains overloading, to our default mode of operating whereby we sleep-walk into our choices. It has seeped into more and more areas of our lives and relationships making us feel out of control. Autopilot makes it harder for us to make instinctively good choices so we feel trapped and that we’re living someone else’s life.
If your autopilot is always on you are just existing, not living and at midlife, we can’t afford to wander around and waste our precious time.
Whether you are a “Pleaser” (saying yes all the time and ending up feeling “resentful” about the responsibilities you’ve taken on), a “Pacer” (focusing more on getting things done and packing your schedules than “being”) or a “Passenger” (letting others make decisions for you and getting caught up in “following the crowd too often”), the good news is, it’s never too late to find our drive again.
To regain control over your life, the study says to change your mood through exercise, to do one thing towards a goal you want to accomplish and tell three people about it, as well as to strengthen connections with others by being more involved in your community.
The secret is taking some time out for yourself from your busy schedule even if it’s just 10 minutes. This will let you observe your thought process as it runs through your mind and you’ll be able to learn more about yourself. By interrupting your daily routine with a new habit you will end up doing things that boost your self-esteem.
No matter where you stand today, your story isn’t over yet. Change your commute pattern, download a podcast that reinvigorates your walk, or break the mould and choose to use your best ‘things’ every day, rather than keep them for a special occasion.