I get up, I make my bed. I walk out into the kitchen, grind some coffee beans, drop them in the coffeemaker and hit start. I give my dogs their morning “daddy treat,” then stumble into the bathroom to do my normal thing. I do this everyday. It’s a pattern. Our lives are patterns.
There’s comfort in patterns. Our human minds are so hardwired to find and make patterns that we see them everywhere. Sometimes even when they’re not there. Humans seek order in the chaos. We imagine purpose where there is none and seek to assign motive when there is simply life doing its thing as it always has long before we came.
Ironically, we humans can also be incredibly bad at recognizing patterns. Think about the person that goes from one failed relationship to another, repeating the same mistakes over and over again. The person that struggles to lose weight and stay in shape is living a pattern of bad habits that all but guarantees failure. Their daily routine has built up a pattern of over eating and over indulgence.
Once patterns are formed they can be devastatingly hard to break. The unlucky lover we mentioned above will often live their whole life in misery wondering “why can’t I find the one?” Many of our own routines and habits have become so ingrained within our normal patterns that we don’t even realize we do these things unless someone points them out. I once owned a pair of glasses that were too large for my little kid face. I constantly wiggled my nose to set them back where they belonged. I did this so much I wasn’t even consciously aware of it until I got a new pair that fit correctly.
The experiences and events that make up our lives are the result of the patterns and routines we’ve built into them. Wealthy people have wealthy habits. Just as fit people have adopted healthy and fit routines. It’s not accident or blind luck but a pattern. It can take years to build these patterns, yet we wonder why after a few days of adopting a new routine we’re not seeing results.
Lately I’ve had to begin examining my own habits and routines. I’ve found a lot of self-destructive and limiting patterns. For instance as I write this, it just happens to be Friday. My usual Friday routine involves heading out at some point to buy beer. Once I buy that beer I will drink it. There’s nothing particularly wrong with that, except that consuming all that beer will add on average 1500-2000 extra calories of sugar into my body. That doesn’t include the food I’ll eat along with the beer.
A week of heavy exercise and sound eating habits can all be derailed by 1 six-pack in the house.
Recently I read the book, “Ego is the Enemy,” by Ryan Holiday. At first I didn’t think much of the book but a few chapters in, my world was exploded apart and the patterns I’d been living my life by exposed for what they were, disastrous. Ego is a devious thing. It manifests in ways we don’t always recognize or understand. Ego is the true source of a lot of guilt and self-destructive behavior. My own misplaced guilt was leading to more self-destructive behavior and routines that were keeping me from the very success I’ve been reaching for.
It’s annoying to work your ass off for years, but never truly achieve your goals. Most people give up after a few months and the world tells them, “you did your best, it’s not your fault.” What I’ve come to realize is that a lot of the time it is our fault. We go about our days, living patterns and routines that don’t bring us any closer to the lives we want, but they fill our day with busy activities and so we feel industrious. All we’re really doing is jerking off and wasting time.
The writer who never submits a book or article for review, isn’t a writer they’re a dreamer who writes. The entrepreneur who spends their days planning and reading books while posting “CEO” on their Instagram, is neither a CEO or businessman. They’re a dreamer. Fake it until you make it is a bullshit term designed to absolve lazy people of responsibility for their own bullshit. It’s a self-defeating pattern where you the individual are presented with a choice; either accept your own lies and bullshit as reality or break the pattern and start doing something meaningful and worthwhile.
Meaningful and worthwhile only come at the end of some scary stuff. They involve risk, discomfort, and rejection. The more we face those things the stronger the pattern of facing them becomes. I challenge everyone who reads this to look into your own life to see the patterns there. For every disappointment and let down, was there a pattern of behavior before it? Has it repeated itself over and over again? Do you have the courage and strength to change it.
I’ve walked way from the hourly wage world twice before to start my own business. Each time I came to a point when I had to choose between forging ahead despite the unknown or going back to the safe wage. If I went ahead it would be scary. I may fail, hell I may starve but no one would be telling me what I was worth. No one would say, “this is how much you can make, your success stops here at 40 hours.” Going back would bring a sure source of money and the ability to pay for all the crap that fills my house that I don’t really need, but at what real cost. Forging ahead would require new habits. I’d be building a whole new pattern of thought, actions, and routines into my life.
The things you do everyday, just as the people you surround yourself with, build the pattern of your life. How you choose to spend your time and this earth will determine whether that time was well lived or filled with regret, choose wisely, and carefully but remember it is still your choice.