Jennifer was driving her son to a play date with a friend.
She spent most of the drive worried about being fired from her stressful job.
When she arrived at her destination, she realized she was actually at the grocery store, not her friend’s house.
She quickly turned her car around and managed to her friend’s house on time.
What Jennifer realized at the grocery store was that she had been on “autopilot.” In other words, she wasn’t fully present in that moment.
Researchers say that the average person spends over half their time on autopilot. The problem with living on autopilot is that you aren’t actively engaged in the moment, so you’re missing out on your life.
Here are four warning signs that signal you’re living on autopilot:
Constantly Checking Your Phone
Every time you encounter an idle moment, you check your phone. You check emails at red lights. You respond to text messages when you’re in the waiting room. You dictate your to-do list into your phone while you’re driving. You’re constantly connected to your smartphone, but you’re disconnected from the world around you.
Everyone complains to some degree, whether it’s slow service at a restaurant or having to wait in line to pay your utility bill. But if you notice that you’re frequently complaining about the same things, then you might be living on autopilot.
When you’re on autopilot, it’s tough to notice the good things in your day, like the cashier that asked about your day or the gentleman in line who gave you his spot. You can’t enjoy the pleasant things in life if you’re always focused on the negative.
You notice your empty plate but you can’t remember what your food tasted like or you’re surprised to find you’ve eaten more food than you thought you did. This type of disconnect between your body and mind can lead you to overeat and to not enjoy your meals.
Letting Life Happen to You
You might have one or two goals but that’s about it. You’re letting yourself drift along in life so you spend the majority of your time reacting to life, rather than living it.
If you’re in a crisis, then this can be a good thing. It means you’re focused on survival and that you don’t have time to tackle anything else.
But if you’re not in the middle of a crisis, then you need to disengage autopilot. Stop accepting what’s happening as if you have no control over your life.
If you want to lose weight, get married, or move somewhere else, write those goals down and start taking action.
It’s true you can’t lose 100 pounds in a day, but you can focus on exercising for 20 minutes today. You may not be able to get married tomorrow but you can sign up for a dating service today.
Living on autopilot is a habit and disengaging from it does take effort. But take it one moment at a time and it will get easier.
Be present in your present. Download your Mindful Living workbook today.