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Living on AUTO-PILOT or SURVIVAL MODE? Here's how to take charge of your life..

Updated: May 15, 2021

woman living in a survival mode confused stuck busy
survival mode

*Note* - The audio version of this post is on the right side.

Do you find yourself lately feeling lost or stuck, like there is something missing from your well-being?

Do you feel like there’s no fulfilment and your goal is just to avoid having a terrible day? Having a great day, is it even an option?

Is everything that you do, in a reaction mode and you’re never proactive?

Do you feel that your life is stagnant and there is no growth?

Chances are that you are living your life in a survival mode or an auto-pilot mode (yes, they both are not the same).

More often than not, we all have experienced such feelings.

Living life in a survival mode means just trying to get through the next 24 hours.

When stuck in survival mode, it seems like you’ll never come out of the hole.

same old thinking same old results
autopilot mode

Similarly, living a life on an auto-pilot is same as unconsciously walking into your choices.

It’s your default operating mode.

It's like the choices you are making are in no way contributing to improving your life.

So Relax! no judgment on yourself, please….Life does get busy and chaotic. And we slowly learn to go through the flow of life, manage somehow and do what we need to do… These states help us complete our tasks and navigate through our hectic schedules.

Yet, ever wondered what could be the consequences of going through life in survival mode or auto-pilot mode?

When we are "surviving" too long it leads to chronic stress which is really harmful. It trains our body to stay in a state of stress all the time. Our body starts to overreact to stressors that we experience. Has it ever happened with you that your body responded to a situation as if it was a “disaster” when it was in fact, a “minor blow?"

Chronic stressed responses and overexposure to stress hormones can not only take a toll on our physical and emotional well-being but also impacts our relationships, our work, leads to many medical issues, and increases the risk for anxiety and depression (Harvard, 2018; Hormone Health Network, 2018).

brain training to focus and grow. brain in comfort zone. life on autopilot
brain in autopilot mode vs brain in training

Similarly, living on autopilot mode disconnects us from both, today and tomorrow.

It means that we are living in a comfortable mode which is the automatic, fast, and unintentional way of thinking. We do not push ourselves to achieve what we actually deserve in our life. Well! The opposite of this is intentional living.

Having a purpose towards which we want to work — it requires focus, effort and energy. With clear intentions, there is less scope of mistakes and chances of success are higher.

Now after having awareness about what is actually happening in your life, it's time to understand how you can change it. And that is if you want to!! Here are some of the tips that can help take you charge of your life.

taking charge of life through self awareness and mindfulness
self awareness and mindulness
1. Connection with your inner self -

When we disconnect from ourselves we fail to notice whether we are in survival mode or we forget the things that really matter to us and life goes on autopilot mode.

Self-awareness is the first step to create any change.

When In survival mode, ask yourself, “What do I need?” Did I overlook a need? What is my body telling me? Am I tired or hungry? What do I feel? Am I scared, angry, or sad?

If you feel your life is in auto-pilot mode, become more aware of your behaviour. Questions to reflect, am I living on autopilot by choice or because it just happens? Am I making choices for myself or merely choosing what shows to watch or the food to eat, unintentionally?

Be patient. It’s a process.

2. Connection with others

Talking to family, friends or a personal coach helps us feel more connected with ourselves without any judgment. You can explore your thoughts and emotions and gain a different perspective.

3. Think about your purpose

What kind of life do you want to create? A pause to reflect will create a space to start paying attention. Are you enjoying what you are doing? Are you focused or distracted? Why? How do you look at yourself five years from now?

This will bring more intention to your daily life.

4. Meaningful routines

When the habits are connected to goals and purpose, there is more focus and efficiency. Being mindful of daily routines can help you take charge of your life.

5. Go beyond your comfort zone

Challenging ourselves is important or else we end up bored and repeating ourselves. Learning happens when we stretch beyond our comfort zone. So test your limits and try to continually experience new things.

6. Making conscious decisions

We should not let our lazy brain choose a comfortable option instead of the best one.

7. Having a personal coach

A personal life coach, as your accountability partner can give you a safe space to explore and overcome hidden barriers that you might be facing.

happy confident woman in control of her life
taking charge of your life

Simple life hacks to see improvements

a) Simplify your life - From things to emotions - the simpler they are, the easier to focus in life on more important things

b) Less complaining, more gratitude

When we take charge of our outlook and be thankful for whatever good is happening, we fill our life with positivity. Remember, whatever we focus on, grows.

c) Realistic expectations - We should set attainable goals to avoid burnout in the long run and bouncing back to old ways. Do whatever best you can do in the present moment rather than being caught up in your future self.

d) Stop comparing yourself to others - We put so much pressure on ourselves when we compare our life with others. It can be very easy to lose track of what we actually desire in our life and also may lead to us never feeling truly satisfied with who we are or our own accomplishments. Learning from others is great but comparisons seldom help.

e) Be your authentic self - We should not try to be someone we are not. Living a life directed by other people’s opinions makes you, who you don’t want to become. It gets exhausting.

f) Exploring and learning productivity tools - The Pareto Principle, to-do lists and journaling are some of the tools that might help take conscious actions towards your desired outcomes.

g) Be Accountable - Taking charge of our lives means we are accountable. We can’t hide behind excuses, we have to get up and be counted. No one else is going to take our dreams and goals as seriously as we will so best we take the reins in our hands.

Be accountable for your choices and actions in life. Be empowered.

h) Get Comfortable with Saying No - Most of us are people pleasers at heart and saying no can be difficult. However, taking charge of our lives will mean we have to get comfortable saying no on few occasions. Otherwise, we run the risk of spreading ourselves too thin.

i) Stay positive and say no to detractors.

Try not to get affected by people and thoughts which put barriers in your way. "I can’t", "It’s not possible" and other such lines lead us nowhere but a dead end.

j) Don’t forget to exercise, eat right. It will help relieve stress and burnout.

More often than not, it’s very easy to let life happen. It’s important to note, that even if you want to come out of survival mode or autopilot mode, it may not always be that easy. After all, these are the coping mechanisms that you have gotten used to over the years. But it’s very much possible because within you there is a power that you have not fully harnessed yet.

Placing your intentions in the directions that you desire and staying mindful about your choices will help you take charge of your life and then it makes you the driver of your life where you get to decide when to drive on autopilot and when not.

Let's connect. Do share your thoughts with me in the comments section below.

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Very well articulated Neha! Having a you as my personal coach has helped me a lot in introspecting and thinking beyond the daily routine.


For me, 'me time' to do something i really enjoy helps me break monotony and give me much needed respite.

Neha Satija
Neha Satija
May 21, 2021
Replying to

That's a very good way to step aside from the dailiness of life, even if just for a bit. Thanks for sharing.


Maitri Banga
Maitri Banga
May 14, 2021

That was so helpful! A very thoughtful and impressive read

Neha Satija
Neha Satija
May 21, 2021
Replying to

Thank so much. I am so glad you liked it.


A Holistic Life Transition Coaching For Your Motherhood Journey

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