Turn Off Your Autopilot and Navigate Your Life

Written by: Jeffrey Craig

The older I get, the more I see it. Friends, family, and even strangers are living on autopilot. What do I mean by that?

By living on autopilot, I mean that they spend each day doing the same mundane tasks, living the same routine over and over without any change or purpose behind what they do. They are not putting a conscious effort into the way they live their lives and have no goals for themselves.

People who live on autopilot can be seen everywhere. They are the ones you see at a job they’ve hated working at for 15 years, eating at the same restaurant every week, or even getting the same exact haircut that they’ve had since high school. They are the people that wake up each day just to see it end again. You may know someone like this. You may even be one of them yourself.

A few days ago, I met a friend of mine I haven’t seen in a while. While we were catching up, I was so amazed by what she has accomplished in such little time. She had switched companies to a higher position and higher paying job, she had started her own travel blog, and had even begun taking steps into starting her own business. The most fascinating part however, was the fact that her identical twin sister had accomplished nothing since the last time I saw her. She was working the same job, frequenting the same bars, and had no sign of enthusiasm for life or her own personal success.

I was dumbfounded. How could this be? How could two people who are genetically identical in every way and raised by the exact same parents have lives that contrast so significantly from one another? My friend explained it loud and clear. Her sister was living on autopilot while she had made the conscious decision to take control of her own life.

Once a person is on autopilot, it is very challenging to turn it off. Here are 4 steps on how to flip the autopilot to the off position, grab ahold of the steering wheel, and begin navigating to the life you want.

Recognize It

The first and most important step is recognizing that you’re actually running on autopilot. Because there is no actual intent in what the person does in their day to day, it would be near impossible to recognize whether or not you are this person.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

Have you experienced anything new or exciting recently?

Are you currently working on any goals for yourself?

Is your life different now than it was year ago?

Have you struggled with any challenges recently?

Would you say that you would like more out of life than what you have now?

If you answered “no” to any or all of these questions, then there is a good chance you are running on autopilot. Once you have recognized that you are running off autopilot, the next challenge is turning it off.

Turn It Off

The most challenging component of this step is the hard truth that turning off autopilot is not nearly as simple as just flipping a switch. This requires an immense amount of self-awareness. You must be mindful of each action you take in your daily life and ask yourself if what you are doing has an intention behind it or if it is simply an automatic behavior that has no contribution to your life.

Once you begin catching these autopilot behaviors, you can then begin terminating them over time. I am sure you’ve heard the saying “Old habits die hard.” Turning off autopilot falls right in line with that. Some automatic behaviors will be easier to cease than others, but don’t let that discourage you. Progress is the goal, not perfection.

Redirect Yourself

Once you have begun shutting down the behaviors that had you on autopilot, the next step is redirecting yourself to a place of purpose. This is probably the most enjoyable step because it opens you up to a world of abundance and possibilities. In this step, you get to create a map of where you want to go and who you want to be. This is the goal setting phase where you ask yourself questions that elicit inspiration and motivation:

What are some new experiences I can have right now?

What goals would I like to achieve in life?

What are some activities I have always wanted to do but haven’t done yet?

The answers to these questions and more lay the groundwork for what will become the direction of your life. This change of course will create new behaviors that will eventually lead to living the life you want.

Navigate Your Life

Now that you have recognized that you’ve been running on autopilot, turned it off, and redirected yourself, it is time to actually start navigating your life. This step is probably the most difficult because it requires ACTION.

The reason most people are living their lives on autopilot is because it’s easy. Their behaviors are automatic, which requires little to no effort on their part. To live a life of intent and purpose, however, would require struggle, change, and failure. Although unpleasant, these are necessary to achieve what we want out of life.

Ask any successful person who is living their dream and I can assure you they did not get where they were without hard work and determination. Continue navigating your life in the direction you want and I assure you that one day you will reach your destination.

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