09 Nov

Breaking Bad Patterns

People love patterns. We look for them everywhere and try to use them as guides in life. Sometimes, this is great—a pattern of looking both ways before you walk across the street or start to drive forward at a fresh green light keeps you safer. But everyone can think of a bad pattern they’ve had too.

Relationships in Bad Habits

A lot of our bad patterns are interrelated in some way. I realized this more clearly recently when I went into my Instagram messages for their regular cleanup.

I get a good number of DMs because of my social media presence. Every now and then, I dive in and clear it all out—it’s mostly junk and solicitations. This time, however, I got two from people looking for advice that interested me.

One was trying to study more regularly, learn more, and get better grades. The other was struggling in love and wanted advice—specifically, on why they loved people who didn’t love them back.

These seem incredibly different, right? But the longer I thought about solutions, the more I realized how much they have in common. The problems with bad studies are the same we run into with bad relationships—patterns of behavior.

Connections between Studying, Relationships, & Long-term Plans

When you need to achieve something lasting, you want to find a manageable way to make progress on it. You have to put together the right habits and breaking bad patterns is even more critical. School and relationships are both long-term goals.

School is the definition of project-based achievements. The calendar is already broken up for you—from due dates to coursework, there’s an incredibly specific roadmap to success. Meeting these deadlines, however, requires focus, discipline, and sacrifice. Good study habits require you to be honest with yourself about how much time you spend working.

We don’t tend to think of habits when thinking about relationships—but we absolutely should! Because you want to have long-lasting, supportive, and healthy romantic relationships. Take them as seriously as any other project. Examine where things are going wrong and try to correct them.  Stay accountable to your partner in what you’re feeling and how you’re communicating.

Not to say that a relationship should always feel like work—a lot of love should feel easy. Growth is borne out of a desire to make your partner’s life better, not a sense of obligation. But even here, good habits make all the difference.

Know What Yours Are

You can’t start breaking bad patterns if you can’t figure out what they are. The premise of my productivity guide is first and foremost finding what’s going to work for you. There are lots of tips for a reason. Some of them won’t get you as far as you thought and some might not help you at all. The variety gives you choices for different times. Experiment and find your answers.

There are a lot of factors in putting together new patterns and leaving bad ones behind. It’s hard work. But anything worth doing is.