The Friendly Guide to Rewriting Your Patterns

Hey, Scoutie Girl readers! You might want your journal or pen and paper handy for this one. Here we go!

Our lives are full of patterns and habits, from how we think or argue, to how we tie our shoes or brush our teeth.

We have patterns in our creative work and business lives as well: How we develop a new design, how we spend our time, how we organize our studios. How we try to grow our businesses, how we plan, how we respond to challenges.

It’s a new year. A time when we look closely at the past year and sculpt fresh plans for the next one.

Out with the old patterns and in with the new. Looking at the work and creativity patterns in our lives and resolving to do better. Be bigger. More amazing.

There are patterns in our creative and business life that we’d like to change, that don’t really serve us. How do we unravel the bits that are holding us back so that we can grow, be more creative?

Let me put a hypothesis out there, that I’ve found to be true over and over in my own life:

Creative patterns and life patterns are connected.

In fact, I’d say they are the same. They’re all woven together. How we do one thing is often how we do everything.

Making the connections is a key part to untangling the whole pattern. It’s like the first tug on the thread that will unravel it all. So let’s start there.

1. Find the pattern, make the connections.

An example:

Last year I took a good look at my creative business life. Through some journaling it became clear to me that I was having a crisis of follow-through. I was working hard but only going halfway on some important things, and not getting where I wanted to go.

At first, I thought this was just a business pattern I could break through sheer force of will and a better checklist.

Then I dug deeper with more journaling and observation and realized – boom! – that this was a pattern woven deeply into all aspects of my life. Down to how I do laundry – I wash and fold, but rarely put away. It’s in how I do the dishes, how I practice yoga, how I renovate my home.

Seeing all these things in the context of a larger pattern simply blew me away. And it helped me be less hard on myself, by allowing me to observe the whole pattern instead of thinking of it as one isolated instance of laziness or lack of commitment.

Journal prompts:

  • What patterns are you looking to change in your creative and/or creative business life?
  • Do you see these pattern in action in other areas of your life? How?

2. Befriend the pattern.

A pattern is HUGE. Like an iceberg, there’s a lot going on underneath the surface.

Berating yourself, making resolutions with clenched teeth at midnight on New Year’s Eve, and filling your house with scribbly sticky notes in order to change one aspect might not do the job.

Looking at the pattern as it connects to all facets of your life – well, it can be overwhelming at first.

Trying saying hello instead. I mean, you and your pattern have already been living together for quite some time, so why not get to know each other?

“Hey pattern, what’s up? You don’t really serve me but you must somehow, because you’re EVERYWHERE in my life. I mean, you’re even in my laundry basket. So let’s chat so I can understand you a little better.”

The key here is something I often hear in yoga class: “Observe without judgement.” See what your pattern is up to. You probably already know how it doesn’t help you, but have you found out how it does help?

My follow-through pattern helps me out in all sorts of ways. Mainly it’s a giant bouncer protecting me from facing both my fear of sucess, and failure. It protects me from major change and new challenges.

Journal prompts:

  • How does this pattern help you?
  • Is it protecting you in some way?
  • How does this pattern not help you?

3. Live with the pattern. Change the pattern.

You’ve noted the connections, said hello, and become friends. Or at the very least, respectful roommates.

So now…live with the pattern. Bring an awareness of it to your daily life. Know when you’re in it, and when you’re changing it. Observe without judgement.

Letting go of guilt, of shoulds and have tos, and just observing, opens up space that can be filled with actual change.

Awareness of the pattern in your whole life is a huge part of changing it. Seeing the connections, seeing the obvious depth and breadth of a pattern in your life makes it almost painful to stay in it.

If change isn’t overnight, no worries. Just keep observing. Stay kind to yourself. Perhaps choose something to focus on as a way of working through your patterns one thing at a time to see how it feels. The laundry. Making phone calls. Running. Take your pick.

Journal prompts:

  • What would unraveling this pattern look like in my daily life?
  • What are moments that I stay in the pattern, and how is this helping or not helping me?
  • What are some moments where I’ve stepped out of the pattern, and what has that been like?

Happy rewriting!

xoxo Maeg

14 thoughts on “The Friendly Guide to Rewriting Your Patterns

  1. Maeg –
    Absolutely love the connection you’ve made between life and creative patterns. YES. And I am also appreciating the kind and gentle approach you’ve prescribed (befriending it by getting CURIOUS about it).

    And when it comes to changing patterns, it’s sooo important to have the pattern laid out. I ask my clients to write the pattern out in its seven or ten steps (or four, or twelve) as if they were going to teach a class on it. Have them be the world class expert on that very pattern (“here’s how you stall an exciting project”).

    Then they can look for what shifts might be possible. Simple, incremental tweaks at one or two of the stages may be all that it takes to have the whole structure look radically different.
    Great, great stuff!
    TG

    1. Tanya–

      Wow, I LOVE that approach. To be the “world class expert” on your own pattern, and breaking it down into itty bits, finding the beginning. Brilliant. Thank you!

      xo Maeg

  2. Great post Maeg! So inspiring, I think I have problem with follow through, am going to do some work on it as can see it in all aspects of my life. I’m brilliant at starting things but somehow the middle and end can get lost.

    A brilliant way to start the new year. Here’s another post about a similar subject on Zen habits http://zenhabits.net/

    Now I’m going off to finish some things…

  3. Thanks for this thoughtful, well-written post. It validates what I decided I wanted this year to be: a year where I start pursuing my art both for its own sake, and as a “retirement job.” This means shaking up my work life, making new connections, learning new skills, and applying a lifetime of business experience to a very personal pursuit.

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