Autopilot is a useful setting for flying an aircraft when the trip is going smoothly, but it’s not helpful to live your life on autopilot.
But many of us do.
In fact, we can get so used to living life on autopilot that we don’t even realize we’re doing so.
But something still seems just … off.
Here are the emotions and experiences that show you’re living your life on autopilot.
1) You feel trapped
The first feeling that should set off alarm bells is that you feel trapped.
It seems like you’re frozen inside a block of amber or stuck in a time loop.
Is it already almost Christmas again?
Nothing seems to change, you don’t know where your life is going and you’ve run out of answers.
What’s worse, you seem to even be running out of the desire to seek answers.
You just feel trapped and numb.
2) You’re tired and lack motivation
“What’s the point?”
This is an unspoken question which lurks behind every day.
It’s not even that you’re necessarily depressed or hopeless. You just genuinely have lost interest and engagement in some fundamental way.
Your energy levels are low and you do your best, but you don’t feel much motivation to change.
The same old tired routine seems good enough. Maybe you’ll look for a new job next year or finally break up with your girlfriend who you’ve grown so far apart from.
But for now who cares. It’s all just so much trouble.
Speaking of not having motivation…
3) You procrastinate and avoid taking action
The levels of procrastination go through the roof when you’re living life on autopilot.
You find that even when you do have big plans they seem to keep getting pushed back and pushed back.
Actually taking action and committing to something is always a long ways off.
You do the bare minimum or whatever is required by your job and the relationships in your personal life.
You have some other plans and ideas, but they never seem to come to fruition.
4) You do things without thinking
When you’re on autopilot, you act accordingly.
You may notice that you forget if you’ve taken your medication or what you just did five minutes ago.
Your short-term memory feels like it’s been wiped.
You go through the motions and fill up on gas or eat lunch, but you couldn’t name what it was you ate, or which filling station you went to.
You just kind of did it.
It’s all a blur.
5) You barely notice or hear other people
When you’re on autopilot you barely pay any attention to people around you.
When you do notice people, you may observe that you find them quite annoying.
When you do notice other people or have no choice but to interact with them, you may find them much more annoying and aggravating than you expect.
This brings up the next point…
6) You’re irritable with those around you
When you do spend time with friends or colleagues you quickly rethink it.
It just seems unnecessary and useless, and the smallest things they do seem kind of annoying.
You may find yourself being more irritable than usual or giving fake smiles.
It seems like you’re being asked to pay attention to other people, but you barely even pay attention to yourself, so it’s a tall order.
7) You feel numb and indifferent about your personal life and love life
When it comes to your personal life and love life, you find it’s hard to even feel much.
Past disappointments and the current drudgery make you kind of indifferent.
You just feel like pressing the fast forward button.
You feel like you’ll always be in this shoddy relationship or always be single.
You’ve stopped trying.
8) You aren’t trying to break your addictions
When you’re on autopilot, you’re accustomed and comfortable with your addictions.
You’re not doing much to break them and you’re more or less resigned to them by now.
“Well, guess I’m a lifelong smoker…”
“Well, a few beers a day never hurt anybody…”
Whatever your vice is, you may find that the motivation or interest to stop doing it has gone out the window.
You’re sunk into the routine of life and the addictions you have are just part of that routine now. You don’t have a strong interest in the hard work in dropping your addictions.
9) You don’t care about your career anymore
As for your career?
You don’t care. Beyond basic survival, you feel like you’re just doing whatever it takes to get by.
You’ve found a career with a predictable schedule and a chain of command where you’re not on top.
Every work day is more or less like the last, and weekends tend to be mainly about resting up for the work week to come.
It’s pretty dull, but it’s safe.
10) Your personal hygiene and self-care is minimal
When you’re on autopilot, looking after yourself ceases to be a priority.
You don’t want to raise eyebrows or upset people by smelling awful or looking noticeably unkempt.
But beyond the most basic actions of grooming, you just don’t care much.
You wear the same style of clothes, comb your hair the same way, have a shower when it seems like a good idea.
You’re mostly checked out and you don’t feel a strong sense of self-love.
11) You feel resentful and jealous of happy people
Another emotion you’re likely to feel when you’re living life on autopilot is resentment of happier people.
You also feel some sense of jealousy:
Not so much jealousy of what they have as of the satisfaction and fulfillment they seem to find.
It seems like life ever being something more than just going through the motions isn’t destined for you.
How did they find that career they love?
How did they end up with that partner who makes them laugh?
It’s sad to think about, because for you life has always just seemed like the same old tired routine.
12) You’re stuck in the past or the future
When you’re on autopilot, you’re often stuck in feelings about the past or fantasies or fears about the future.
Past nostalgia or regret and trauma, as well as future anxieties or dreams are in your head and heart.
They may be vague or specific.
But they tend to overshadow the present moment and occupy your energy.
You feel like you never quite got over what already happened, or like your life now is sort of fake and your “real” life is still to come in the future.
13) You’re existing, not living
The root feeling of living life on autopilot is a feeling of merely existing.
It feels like you’re just living until you die, with not much else to say in between.
Is this all there is to life?
Who knows, probably not. But you don’t feel you’re likely to find out, especially since your motivation to go out of your way or try something new couldn’t be lower.
Establishing control of your own life
Establishing control of your life starts with recognizing the problem:
You’ve been on autopilot.
Life has been telling you to wake up and you’ve been hitting the snooze button.
Now’s the time to roll out from under the covers and get to work.
You still have the ability to make changes and use your potential. Begin changing what you do and your daily habits, and your life will change as well.