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How to Break Frustrating Patterns in Your Life Take control of the underlying, unconscious decisions that dictate the results in your life and business.

By Graham Young Edited by Heather Wilkerson

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Thomas Barwick | Getty Images

Most of the decisions we make are done on a subconscious level that we are not fully aware of. These underlying, split second choices can be fueled by faulty beliefs from our past. This is often why we can see patterns in our lives replay themselves over and over again and we don't know how to stop.

We've all been there or have seen others stuck in their own ineffective pattern. On a macro level, they consistently end up working with the wrong company, choosing bad business partners, wrong products, wrong priorities, toxic relationships or always have overcommitted schedules full of busy stress.

But what is going on a micro level? If these patterns are so obvious, why can't they put an end to them?

Related: The 5 Habits Bad Founders Never Break

Recognizing patterns in your life.

We're often hesitant to take a deep dive into our past -- or at least do it consciously with a purpose. On the other hand, we're happy to ruminate about the bad stuff for no reason. Looking back and figuring out why things happened the way they did can seem daunting and frustrating. If we are unable to identify why these patterns are happening in our lives, we will never be able to stop them to create new experiences that actually support our goals.

Successful leaders seem to create the space to reflect and be quite critical of their past. They are able to identify the subconscious decisions that lead them to specific outcomes and how those same decisions are playing out today. Then, they can either make the necessary changes or leverage them further.

Conducting a self-inventory on your unconscious decisions.

The key to doing an inventory of your past is to set some time aside and dig into it when you have a clear mind. This isn't an all-day, everyday exploration. By conducting this inventory, you may start spotting things today that connect to patterns in your past. This is a good thing. It's self-awareness. Take notes, and when you find time to sit down to reflect again, review them, and connect the dots.

Related: 3 Ways Women Can Turn Fear of Failure Into Fearless Action

This new level of self-awareness can change the trajectory of your life. If you want to figure these patterns out, really put yourself in your past shoes and remember how you were thinking and feeling at that time in your life.

  1. Focus on one specific pattern in your life.
    • To make this effective, it must be simple. So focus on one specific pattern at a time, rather than doing an inventory on every aspect of your life. If you're consistently experiencing an obvious pattern in your life that you're not satisfied with, start with that.
  2. Ask yourself why you chose that strategy, company, job, product or business partner? Were your decisions made:
    • Out of desperation? Are you consistently waiting until you're in desperation mode to make changes, look for a new job or hire new employees?
    • Out of fear from missing out (FOMO) on a great opportunity? Does FOMO cause you to take on too much of the wrong stuff?
    • From your ego to uphold an image or reputation? Did you choose to work with a specific company based on how you thought other people would perceive your title?
    • To prove yourself to someone? Do you feel you need to prove yourself to your parents, friends or social media followers?
    • To take the safest route possible? So you could remain in a comfortable, predictable place that you're familiar with?
    • Blindly trusting others? Did you just trust other people without taking time to do research yourself?
    • Are you making rash decisions in heated moments after something negative happens?
    • Are you making illogical, overly optimistic decisions when something really exciting happens?
    • Are you a lone wolf? Do you have the tendency to do things yourself and not ask for outside perspective? Would asking others have helped make a different and better decision?
    • Are you holding onto things, strategies or products in your business to uphold your image and avoid social failure? Are you more concerned what people perceive of you on social media than doing what is actually best for your bottom line?
  3. Where have these types of decisions played themselves out in other areas of your life?
  4. Are these patterns still playing themselves out right now?
  5. How could you change them today? For most of these items, the impact of change is huge but the action is quite simple.
    • For example, if you come to realization that you are always waiting until you're in desperation mode to find a new employee or look for a new job, start researching now when things are not urgent, and you have time to be more selective.
    • Or if you are making illogical decisions when in a highly negative or positive emotional state; that will most definitely be skewing your perspective on reality. Be aware of when you are in these states, stop yourself from taking action, and wait until your logical brain has time to catch up. Not giving into that temptation to react can be a game changer.

Related: The Unknown Success Secret Is Forming New Behaviors and Breaking Old Patterns

This new level of self-awareness will help reclaim control over your life by identifying what is causing these ineffective patterns. Be on the look out, catch them, and take a step back to see how you could approach the decision differently. Changing these frustrating patterns in your life can be simpler than you originally thought.

The more you understand why you did what you did in the past, the better you will get at making the necessary changes to do what is best in the present.

Graham Young

Keynote Speaker

Graham Young writes to simplify the psychology and neuroscience behind human performance. He has spoken on stage to thousands of people, provided corporate training to some of the largest companies in North America and written in publications including Entrepreneur, TIME and Business Insider.

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