Are You Living on Autopilot? Here’s How to Stop
By: Mireya Perez
Like millions of others around the world, I coped with quarantine by creating a routine. I woke up at the same time every morning, I had the same thing for breakfast, and I spent the whole morning working on assignments. Having a routine allowed me to create a sense of productiveness and normality in an uncertain world. While I’ve maintained similar daily habits since then, I began incorporating changes in my routine to avoid being on autopilot—the experience of carrying out tasks without conscious thought. If you’re living on autopilot, keep reading for tips that can make your lifestyle less monotonous and more fulfilling.
Being on autopilot means that the unconscious decision-making part of our brain is active. It allows us to move through our routines without much effort or thought. Basically, it means that you’re relying on your subconscious to get by, without actually putting any effort to live the life you want. Get up? Check. Breakfast? Check. Go to work or school? Check.
Routines are not an issue, however, when we stick too strictly to a routine, it is easy to fall into autopilot. It can feel like time flies by, your days melt into one, and, while you don’t do the same thing every day, something might still feel wrong and bland. This can be due to two reasons: You’re always busy or you’re not busy at all.
Having everything planned out seldom leaves space for spontaneous moments, creative thinking, and opportunities for self-love. If you’re always busy with work or distracted with assignments, you don’t get enough time to reflect on yourself. On the contrary, if you’re not getting anything productive done, lazying around all day can leave you feeling sluggish, unmotivated, and incapable of picking yourself back up.
So how do you stop? How do you start being more aware of your decisions and actions throughout the day? There is no single key to achieving this. From meditation and journaling to a change in your routine to a new hobby, everyone has different needs, so it’s all about finding what works for you. For me, the key was to have a goal in mind. I love to write, so I made sure to spend at least a few minutes every day doing so. This allowed me to have a sense of control, be creative, and think outside my routine. It might not be easy to change your habits, and it certainly won’t happen from one day to the next, but you can practice being more present and enjoy the moment.