Patterns. There are bad patterns, good patterns, iffy patterns, healthy patterns, invisible patterns, prevailing patterns... patterns are everywhere. They make our lives what they are in secret and magical ways, which we could understand if we tried.
I've always been the kind of person who was blind to her patterns. As a result, I would get lost, disheartened, and eventually, depressed. At 23, I fell miserably in love because I hadn't noticed my pattern of falling for unavailable guys. At 25, I abandoned a HUGE project because I hadn't confronted my pattern of not finishing things yet. At 27, I fell into my pattern of doing what other people did instead of doing what I wanted to do.
All of these patterns taught me a lot, but they also lasted too long.
While a little bit of wandering can be good for you, prolonged wandering can weaken your spirit and derail your business. If I'd spent some of that time trying to understand my patterns, I would've saved myself a lot of energy and disappointment.
I'm going to outline the process of discovering patterns and give you some examples. That way, you'll be able to apply this to your own business, and life.
The discovery process.
I can think of 3 recent instances where I've spotted patterns:
- When I discovered the purpose of my business
- When I started adding the same phrase to emails and blog posts
- When I started tweeting the same thing
One way to catch patterns in action is to spot repetition.
So if you start tweeting the same phrase or adding the same sentence to all of your emails and blog posts (You. Are. Priceless.), you know there's something there. Or perhaps you start liking the same kind of posts or the same kind of brands or people.
The next step is to ask yourself WHY you say or like these things, and keep asking until the TRUE answer emerges.
For example, when I wanted to uncover the purpose of my business, I consulted dozens of articles (and a podcast) that I'd done, looking for themes that kept springing up. Things like "be yourself", "do it your way", and "marketing should be fun".
Now let's explore these two steps in more detail.
1. Spot repetition.
Say I'm confused about what I want to blog about. I can either print up all of my articles and start looking for prevalent themes OR look at the kind of articles I fall in love with, the ones written by other bloggers, and notice the prevalent themes there.
Here are some recent articles I have fallen in love with:
- The Audacity of Productivity by Elora Nicole
- My Word for 2016: Wholehearted by Jen Carrington
- Why I Finally Sought Help for My Depression by Christy O'Shoney
The investigator in me jumps to the occasion and looks at all three, to find that underlying current. It turns out it's SELF-AWARENESS. All three authors are incredibly self-aware, and they offer great insight into the human psyche by being themselves. (It's a real gift, to be able to talk about your own life and give people insight into themselves. I've noticed it in some fellow bloggers, and I'd say this is definitely their Unique Value.)
Self-awareness increases your chance of success because:
- it helps you hone in on your strengths
- it helps you know your weaknesses and create systems to fall back on
- it helps you uncover what really matters to you and who you are
- it advises your business in a fulfilling way
Now that I have this theme, I can do a blog series! The more I do this exercise, the more themes I'll uncover. Remember, blogging isn't just about you, so read this article about content compromise, and see what resonates with your readers.
The themes you uncovered have a reason for being there, and not everybody wants to know those reasons. It can be a painful process, much like going to therapy. Nevertheless, if you're brave enough to dive in, you can come out wiser and enriched.
Having the themes, I can now look for underlying currents. At this point, I can pretend I'm a private investigator who is questioning a suspect. Or I can use the simplest way to get to the bottom of this - the 5 (or more) Why's, which I'll do in a sec.
Let's say you keep crapping out when it comes to video, live-streaming, and webinars. Anything video-related.
You know you have to at least try to do some of it to make progress in your business, but you feel this dread and you constantly sabotage yourself. Every time someone asks you to do a webinar together, you find reasons not to. Every time you have to create an introductory video, you freeze up. Something stops you, so you stop the process. And it's not about you "not liking it". You've enjoyed it in the past, but not now.
So you ask WHY...
Because I don't want people to see me. - WHY? - Because I might screw something up or look silly. - WHY? - Because I'm not good at this stuff. - WHY? - Because I've always been afraid to show myself fully. - WHY? - Because I'm afraid people won't like me. - WHY? - Because I don't like me. - WHY? ...
You see? Painful, uncomfortable, awkward. Everything you don't want to do, and yet, sometimes progress requires a good dose of self-awareness, confronting your demons (in the form of mental blocks), and doing something about it.
Try it. Pick something you keep sabotaging, and see what happens.
3. All together now.
So you have your themes and your currents. What's next?
You put it all together. Like a puzzle, you assemble the parts, and do what you think is best. I'm not a therapist, so I can't solve your problems, but you can download The Creative Rebel's Guide to Starting a Business and read the part about mental blocks.
You can't fully be yourself and free yourself before you spot the patterns and confront the currents, so I'll leave you to it. And don't worry, it gets easier.
Your mind works the way you train it to work. (tweet this)
Like everything, spotting patterns is a habit. You develop it by doing it. One little pattern, then another, then another, until it comes naturally. Until you can spot an iffy pattern and nip it at the bud before it causes trouble. Wouldn't that be nifty?
There are good patterns and there are bad patterns. And it seems like they run our lives in secret and subtle ways... until we notice and confront them.
I'm not saying you should spend your whole day trying to map out good and bad patterns you've noticed, but you can. The next step is up to you. I'm just here to remind you not to ignore your patterns and that they hold great power.
Good luck! We both know you can do this. :)