Live Your Life on Autopilot (No, Really!)

Ah, hello there, folks.

This is your captain, Sage, speaking. I’d like to thank you for flying Sweetness Airlines. We know you have a choice in self-empowerment blogs, and we appreciate your business.

The “fasten expectations sign” has been turned off, so please feel free to move about your own potential.

My flight attendant, Skyla, will be coming down the aisle in a moment with some refreshments. We’re all out of those little bags of peanuts, but we have plenty of Twizzlers.

We’ve reached our cruising altitude of 5 bajillion feet, so I’m going to switch over to autopilot.

And I suggest you do the same.

“Autopilot” is when you go about your day not really conscious of what you’re doing. It’s automatic, instinctive, and unconscious. It’s like someone else is in the driver’s seat (or pilot’s seat).

Autopilot has gotten a bad reputation lately.

There’s a whole mindfulness revolution, and drifting through life without awareness seems counterproductive.

Even I’ve written about the dangers of living on autopilot!

But autopilot can be both good and bad.

What are the negative ways to live on autopilot?

  • You get into your car and arrive at your destination a short time later without remembering the drive. Scary!
  • You order the same “value” meal at the same fast food restaurant every day because it’s just so easy.
  • You come home from work, plop down on the couch, and proceed to zone out to bad TV all night because that’s what you always do.

But let’s go back to the definition of autopilot: unconscious…something that you “just do” as part of your routine.

Is there something in your life that you struggle to make a habit? Something you wish came easily to you?

What good-for-you things do you wish were on autopilot?

  • You wake up fully rested and excited to start your day, and you never consider hitting the snooze button.
  • You floss your teeth twice a day without thinking about it.
  • You eat a healthy, well-balanced lunch just like you do every day.
  • You head to the gym after work without a second thought, and your gym bag is already packed and waiting in the car, of course.
  • You spend quality time with your family every night because that’s what you naturally enjoy doing.

Wow! What a difference you could make in your life if all those good things could be put on autopilot.

Imagine being the type of person who thinks, “That thing? Oh, it’s just what I do.”

So, how do we get there?

I’ve written before about how you can eliminate bad habits by replacing them with good habits. The real key is consistency. You must stick with your good habit indefinitely (not 21 days, 1 month, 90 days) until you reach the point where you don’t have to think about it anymore.

Then you’ll be living on autopilot…the positive kind.

What do you want to put on autopilot?

Set your sights high—remember, the sky’s the limit!

Ready to rethink autopilot? Check out these articles:

Build a Better You, One Habit at a Time

Trust Your Process

It’s Not Too Late to Change Your Habits

5 Signs You Are On Autopilot

Challenge: What Can You Re-commit to?

8 Reasons Why You Fail at Creating New Habits

How to Keep Creating a New Habit When You Feel Like Giving Up

If you were the ideal version of yourself, what routines would you have on autopilot?

20 Comments

  1. Nneka, Working Mystic on June 24, 2012 at 8:05 am

    Hi Sage, I would love to have meditation, writing and exercising on autopilot. I’m working on rebuilding them. I did it for a year and it was AWESOME!

    I’m also getting better on making healthy eating an autopilot activity.

    We’ve spent so much of our lives just accepting what we do out of habit and not looking at the habits we do want to install and the life we do want to have. I appreciate this perspective about building in habits to your day and life. I travel for work and I have that on autopilot so that I arrive at my destination refreshed and ready for the day.

    May I ask, what do you have on autopilot?



    • Sage on June 25, 2012 at 11:38 am

      Hey Nneka! Thanks for commenting and thanks for the feedback on Facebook.

      The things I have on autopilot are meditating, wearing my retainer at night, writing in my gratitude journal, and getting 8 hours of sleep.

      I’m working on sticking to a healthy eating plan and getting to the gym regularly. I’ll get there! Good luck with your positive habits. 🙂



  2. Shybiker on June 22, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    Do you offer frequent flyer miles?

    Habit is a powerful force. Harnessed to healthy things, it can improve our lives.



    • Sage on June 22, 2012 at 8:33 pm

      Hee hee! No, we don’t offer frequent flier miles, but you do “first class” motivational tips everytime you visit. Oh, and you can pay me in Twizzlers.



  3. Molly on June 22, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    I think your airline is my favorite just for the simple fact that the attendant is so cute! I’m just picturing Skyla in the uniform, too. Aw. 🙂

    There are several things (all health related) that I’m working on making auto-pilot habits. It can take a very long time for habits to set in with me, but I won’t give up on them.



    • Sage on June 22, 2012 at 8:39 pm

      Oooh, that’s a good Halloween outfit idea for Skyla. I wouldn’t mind dressing her up, but Chris thinks it’s undignified.

      Yeah, it seems to take me forever to establish good habits…especially health-related habits. We’ll get there, though! Anything good takes effort.



  4. Megan Gann on June 22, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    I actually do a lot on auto-pilot. I’m a healthy minded person and “habits” only take about 3 days to really set in for me. I can fall asleep and wake up at generally the same time (usually even without an alarm), I take care of my teeth like clockwork and actually crave salads, veggies, and grilled stuff over fried. Probably a part of being a supertaster, but I tend to not like a lot of grease/fat in my diet.

    I do need to work on the exercise thing. I haven’t been using my kinect as much due to the space limitation of the machine, haven’t been able to stomach the bugs or the extreme heat/humidity to walk, or afford going to the pool. I wish I had something I could consistently do/afford every week for exercise.



    • Sage on June 22, 2012 at 5:34 pm

      Only 3 days??? That’s amazing! It takes me much longer to cement a new habit (I must be stubborn). I saw an episode of Nova that was all about supertasters–so interesting! Besides too much grease/fat, what other things taste funny to you?

      I’m working at making exercise automatic. I have a Kinect too, but I hardly use it. Have you watched any of those free exercise videos on YouTube? Does your library rent workout DVDs?



      • Megan Gann on June 26, 2012 at 12:02 pm

        Yeah, I’m pretty easy to train! Probably a good side-effect of being OCD. It’s easy to create a ‘ritual’, and doubly beneficial if it’s something positive. The negative ones are hard to quit, but again it usually takes about 3 days, and after that any desire to do unwanted behavior typically stops. It’s a matter of self-talk and reminding myself why I don’t or do want to do something.

        As for the supertaster, I think grapefruit literally tastes like vomit/bile. Beets make me gag. Ironically, I’ve gone full circle with broccoli/cabbage/etc. As a kid, I screamed for broccoli and cheese sauce. As a teen, I couldn’t stand it. Now I crave it sometimes. But I CAN taste the bitterness. I’ve just adapted to liking bitter flavors. I still add a ton of sugar/cream to my coffee, and butter/garlic on my bitter veggies, but I keep my diet as varied as I can stand.

        I have a lot of things I used to love or at least tolerate as a kid that has so many overwhelming flavors I can’t eat them any more.

        I don’t go to the local library in this county, unfortunately. Ever since we moved away from the Nashville library systems I’ve been pretty out of luck on that front. Our local library is not well stocked and they have very strict limits on books/check outs (1 or 2 books for a short period of time versus 25 books of the Nashville and you could renew so long as there were no holds).

        I’ll check out youtube, but I’m more likely to use the kinect than use youtube. It’s more a matter of setting up/space that I don’t have. Space is the biggest problem, as I share one room with the Hubs. Flailing around or anything greater than certain stretches and I’ll knock something over!

        Cleaning the house has been giving me some good exercise. Getting down and scrubbing the tub and vacuuming can be quite intensive when you want it to be!



    • Nneka, Working Mystic on June 24, 2012 at 8:08 am

      Wow Megan! 3 Days, it takes me 3 months to really get in a groove. I usually hit a wall there that starts to think what’s the use. It’s a decision point for me. If I make it past 3 months, it’s in my blood 🙂



  5. Cara on June 22, 2012 at 9:16 am

    I have to concur about the flossing, I wish that was more auto-pilot/less of a forced reminder for myself. Making myself healthy breakfast and lunches is auto-pilot, if only I could get the husband on board for dinners 🙂 I’m also a firm believer in doing everything I need to do after-dinner before sitting down to relax and that helps me get things accomplished and enjoy my relaxation time more!



    • Sage on June 22, 2012 at 5:28 pm

      Oh, flossing–why do you have to be such a pain in the butt? It’s definitely something I’m working at. I’m glad making healthy meals has become automatic for you. I also have the mindset where I want to get my chores/errands/to-dos done before I relax.



  6. TomJTaylor on June 22, 2012 at 8:13 am


  7. GlutenFreeHappyTummy on June 22, 2012 at 6:52 am

    what a great post!! and i love that you included flossing:) haha



    • Sage on June 22, 2012 at 5:25 pm

      Hi Caralyn! I try to make flossing a habit, but it’s so hard! I can do it for a while, but then I get lazy. Oh well. 🙂



  8. xvavaveganx on June 22, 2012 at 4:25 am

    I totally agree with you! It takes a long time to create good habits but only one time to break them. So not fair! 😉 I think the best habit that I’ve adopted is working out consistently. I just know when I’m supposed to be at the gym. I also know that if I can’t get there because I’m sick or working or hurt it is hard for me to drag myself in that first time after. I’m going to have to commit new habits to auto pilot to deal with the whole bulging disc issue. Things like maintaining good posture, doing my physical therapy homework and committing to a new workout that will work with the issue instead of against it. It’ll take time but I’ll get there.

    What a great airline 😉 Always a smooth ride, fun passengers to travel with, an amazing captain and a great in flight snack! can’t go wrong 😉



    • Sage on June 22, 2012 at 5:20 pm

      Getting to the gym is something I’m working at putting on autopilot. Now that I’m working for myself, I have more freedom about when I can get to the gym.

      Thanks for “traveling” with me. 🙂 My airline has everything. The only downside is that the flight attendent might drool on you.



      • xvavaveganx on June 22, 2012 at 5:59 pm

        Hahaha just a small price to pay for having the cutest flight attendant ever!



  9. Harriet Cabelly on June 22, 2012 at 6:42 am

    Hi,
    Came by to ‘see’ you here at your site, from ‘seeing’ you at the Tiny Buddha site. You commented on my guest post yesterday. I’ve been enjoying perusing your lovely site.
    It is interesting to note that we’re on autopilot for lots of the stuff that doesn’t necessarily benefit us too well. I like your list of good-for-you things to be on autopilot for. I’m on autopilot with my morning walks and almost there with my morning 10 minute meditation mini-sessions. It’s all about cultivating and maintaining the discipline in areas that are important to us.
    Very interesting post.



    • Sage on June 22, 2012 at 5:22 pm

      Hi Harriet! Thanks for stopping by. I really liked your article on Tiny Buddha. That’s fantastic that you’ve made walking and meditating part of your autopilot routine. I love to meditate too. I’m working on adding more good habits and getting rid of some bad ones (like watching too much TV).