The Big Idea
If you want to move forward, you have to begin by looking back.
Questions I Answer
- How can I move forward after a setback?
- What can I do to be more productive especially if my past holds me back?
- How can I turn a negative situation into a positive one?
Actions to Take
- Ask yourself, “What comes easy to you that doesn’t to others?” And follow up that question with, “Do you also enjoy talking about this with others or teaching others about this?”
Key Topics in the Show
How to recognize your patterns and reflect on those cycles in the three areas of your life.
Taking patterns of stress and negativity and turning them into positive routines instead… even if you’ve been doing it subconsciously.
An activity to help you connect the four main categories of patterns to their sources, like familial cycles.
Ways you can actively carve out time so that you’re investing in yourself on a weekly basis.
Resources and Links
- Listen to Episode 268:Make Your Least Productive Day, Your Best Day for examples of easy ways to use your Fridays more effectively.
Welcome to Productivity Paradox from inkWELL Press, a podcast focused on finding success and happiness through the power of productivity. Each season, Tanya focuses on specific strategies to help you discover your own priorities and purpose. Season five is all about investing in you. You can also join Tanya for more interaction support in her free Facebook group at inkwellpress.com/group. And now, here’s your host, Tanya Dalton.
Hello, hello, everyone. Welcome to productivity paradox. I’m your host, Tanya Dalton, owner of inkWELL Press, and this is episode 55. Today’s podcast episode is brought to you by Audible. And I’ll be sharing later in the show, how I use Audible, and how you can get a free audiobook download.
Today’s show is all about looking at your bread crumbs. And I love this show, because I think that looking at your bread crumbs is such an important part of our process, an important part of where we’ve been and where we’re going. And the reason why is because we all tell ourselves these stories about ourselves that we believe, that we’re supposed to be a certain way, or we’re supposed to have a certain job, or we’re supposed to live a certain life. And the question you have to ask yourself is, are these stories true? Are you really looking at your life through an unfiltered lens to make these decisions, or are you saying these things that aren’t necessarily true?
Over time, we all accumulate beliefs about ourselves, and about life itself, which becomes the lens that we view the world through. Everyone has different beliefs, opinions and perspectives, because we have formed these ideas based off of what we know is true in our own world. So we all have some form of limiting or negative beliefs that start to set you in a pattern in life that may or may not work. Finding the beliefs that don’t work and consciously choosing to change them to the ones that will serve you is what allows you to grow.
To do this, your beliefs must align with what you want. For example, if you want a loving relationship, you need to change the deep belief that you are unlovable. So this is why I feel like bread crumbs are so important. One of the things you’ve heard me say before is that if you want to move forward, you have to begin by looking back. Reflection is such a key part to discovering who you really are, and the person you want to become. And I call those things bread crumbs, the little things that have marked the path of where you’ve been. Bread crumbs are so helpful in understanding yourself, and they can help reveal how and where to invest in yourself.
So let’s begin by talking about patterns or cycles. We’ve all heard that concept that time does repeat itself. It’s called historical recurrence. And it’s true to some degree that history does repeat itself. But that doesn’t mean it’s destined to happen. It doesn’t mean that your story is already written. You do have a say in how patterns are played out, and even how they’re disrupted.
As I mentioned a minute ago, we all have stories that we tell ourselves, and these beliefs usually play out in a pattern. So looking back on areas that did and
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didn’t work may reveal those patterns for you. Think about events in the three sections of your life, in your work, your personal space and your home. What worked? What didn’t? Think backwards to find any recurring patterns and dig deep to find your beliefs that are creating these patterns and these cycles. Remember, if you’re looking back through a pattern of great challenges in life, through these challenges come our greatest breakthroughs.
You see, your life is made up of two pattern types, one set of patterns that lead to continued failure, and one that leads to success. And here’s the best news of all, you can choose which patterns to feed and which ones to disrupt. Remember back in episode 45, where we talked about the power of choice? This is yet another choice for us to make.
Let’s talk for just a minute about these two very different patterns that we experience. Patterns of failure are life habits that aren’t serving you, because they take you further away from this vision of your ideal future self. Overcoming your negative patterns is a matter of replacing them with positive ones. But why do we keep repeating these patterns? I want you to remember that most of our habits are acted out subconsciously. We don’t even think about it. But they all have a trigger and a reward that we can pinpoint and change. The failure in our patterns isn’t in the action, but in the result of the actions.
And on the other side of the coin, consistent patterns of success are consistent actions that result in movement towards your goals. If we can find and change unsuccessful patterns into positive ones, we can make consistent progress towards our future self.
Patterns that run through your family too, are important to look at. That allows you to understand yourself and your own patterns. This includes your genes, your environment and your learned behaviors. These factors all come together to create who you are. The more you can learn to identify these patterns, the more prepared you are to disrupt the negative patterns and reinforce those positive ones.
I want to share a couple of categories with you, and I want you to think through each one of them, and the common patterns you can think of between two or more family members. And then I want you to think about how these patterns have affected you.
Okay, category one, beliefs about the world and personal values. Category two, relationships and how you socialize with others. Category three, healthy living, like eating habits and fitness. And category four, career, education, job choices. So in thinking about those four categories, do you start to see some patterns between some of your family members? You’ll likely find family influences on yourselves that are both positive and negative.
Patterns are very similar to habits in that they happen without thinking. So if you start being mindful about the patterns in your life, and you start looking around to discover them, you become more aware, and you can find ways to start building on those positive patterns, and change the negative ones.
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Remember how I said small wins build up to big victories when we were talking about your future self? It’s the same with patterns. Little actions and steps can mean giant leaps towards the life you want to live. And we’ve talked about the domino effect before, it’s the proven theory in physics that a single domino can knock down another domino that’s 50% bigger. Each subsequent domino can then knock down another domino that’s 50% bigger than it, and so on.
Now a single two-inch domino doesn’t have the power to knock over a domino a thousand feet tall. But you can start with that one tiny domino and line up 22 more dominoes, each one 50% bigger than the last. And then that number 23 domino that topples over to the ground would be taller than the Eiffel Tower. That loud boom you would hear when it fell over would be caused by a single standard-sized domino.
And I’m telling you this because I want you to remember that if you start with small steps, that leads to bigger steps, until you’re accomplishing huge goals. There is momentum in these patterns, both positive and negative. So build upon those positive patterns and expand the victories and the successes. And then look at the patterns that are causing the most stress and the negativity, and see if you can find a key trigger that, when changed, results in a more successful habit, and affects more than one area of your life.
Let me give you an example of this. If you’re not eating and exercising, you might want to look a little bit deeper than just the routine of eating and exercising. When you start digging into your patterns, you might find that you need to focus on your sleeping habits, because sleeping will allow you to wake up with more energy and better control over your impulses. Then you have enough will power to make good decisions like grabbing a healthier option instead of a burger. And when it’s time to go to the gym, you don’t feel tired and weighted down and less likely to go.
You see how changing just one element of your life, sleep in this example, that causes a domino effect of success. And that is why it’s so important to look at these patterns, these bread crumbs in your life.
So start looking around. What are the patterns you notice appearing in your life again and again, maybe in different iterations, but at their heart, it’s the same thing happening over and over? And while you’re looking around, I want you to notice, what are the things you’re already doing in your life that you can build on, that you can expand upon and use that domino effect with?
With me, I didn’t think I was destined for a life as an entrepreneur, and little projects that seemed like microcosms were never explored or pushed or expanded. And that’s why I didn’t think I was supposed to be this entrepreneur. And I’m going to be sharing that story actually in this week’s weekender episode on Friday. So if you’re interested in hearing about my own bread crumbs, I will be sharing that in that mini episode.
But here’s the thing I’ve learned through my own experiences, and through talking with others. Ideas need room and space to grow. We put them in these little containers instead of taking them out of their jars and allowing them to spread around the room. Start looking at these things as being connected, and see if you
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don’t uncover some patterns for yourself. It took a lot for me to figure out what my own patterns were, and it was because I was keeping them very contained and separated.
When I start looking for connections, I begin to see the patterns in my life that help me move towards the life I want to live. And I think that’s why it’s so important. It allows you to see where it is you want to go, and maybe even where you don’t want to go.
The question I get most often when I’m being interviewed is, what if you don’t know what you’re passionate about, what if you don’t understand or know your purpose. And I usually tell these people to look at the patterns, what’s been happening in your life. And the best place to look, quite honestly, look at the things that feel painful for you, the things that you regret, the things that you feel remorse for not doing. Things that you want to do generally get tamped down, and they don’t get done. Things that don’t feel good need to be explored, because that usually is at the heart of what it is you’re wanting to do. You’ll see these patterns appearing over and over again of things trying to emerge in your life that get pushed aside.
Jeff Goins has a book called The Art of Work, and he poses some questions that really distill down what you might be doing that could lead you to your purpose. He tells you to ask yourself what comes easy to you that’s not obvious to others. Do you find it easy to build relationships? Maybe you’re great with technology that most people struggle with, or you’re not afraid to get your hands into a project. What is it that just comes easy for you?
And then he follows up that question with, do you also enjoy talking about this with others, or teaching others. When something comes easy to us, it’s easy to dismiss it as, oh that’s no big deal, it’s not that difficult. Not difficult, and not difficult to you, are two very different things. So I want you to really start to pay attention to these bread crumbs, to these things that are occurring again and again in your life, so you can begin to understand what is it that you are passionate about, what is your purpose tied to. Find these connections, so that you can begin to move forward.
So I want to talk about how we can do that, how we can get motivated by our past and future self. But first, I want to give a shout-out to our sponsor.
One of my favorite things to do with great books that I love is to re-read them, only I don’t often have the time to invest in re-reading. My answer, I listen to them. And Audible makes it easy, because they have over 180,000 titles to choose from. Using Audible allows me to remind myself of the concepts of a book in a fraction of the time. Right now, I’m listening to Simon Sinek. I’m refreshing my brain on the ideas in his book, Start With Why. It’s one of my favorite books, and I definitely recommend it. You wanna listen to it? The good news is you can listen to Simon Sinek’s book for free, thanks to Audible. They’re offering a free audiobook download, and a free 30- day trial for you. Just go to inkwellpress.com/audible to sign up today.
Okay, I want to talk about how we can get motivated by our past, how we can use these bread crumbs to our advantage. Because when you can begin to see these patterns and acknowledge them, you can really begin to move your life in the
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direction you want it to go. But it takes some investment in you, it takes time to really invest in yourself.
When Google first opened its headquarters in the early 2000s, the company was famous for their 20% time policy. Now this was a policy that allowed each employee to spend 20% of their time on independent, future-thinking projects of their own interest. And this policy created really well-known products like Gmail and AdSense, so it was very, very successful. And it was because Google wasn’t just looking at the short-term benefits, they were looking at the long-term goals. They were looking at investing in themselves.
So try taking a page from Google’s book, and initiate a future-self Friday, where you set aside time on Fridays and make this a part of your regular routine. Back in episode 25, I did an entire episode called Taking Back Your Friday, where we talked all about how you can make the end of your week feel amazingly productive, and feel like a great close to your week. We talked about batching some of your tasks and making it work.
So I would encourage you to go back and give that another listen, and then add on this future-self Friday element, and make it a part of the regular routine that you’re doing again and again. Because part of investing in you is actively carving out the time to make it happen. To have an effective future-self Friday, don’t start from a blank page. That makes it tempting to waste time and give in to procrastination. We have to give it a little bit of structure. So focus in on these things, goal-setting, skill building, learning, working on future projects, things that don’t have short-term benefits, but really have long-term benefits. In other words, actively carving out time to invest in you every single week.
And it doesn’t have to be a full day Friday, or even a half day. Even taking an hour, 15 minutes, I’m just asking you to find an amount of time that you can invest in yourself on a weekly basis. And I want you to block distractions like social media, so put your phone away, put it on do-not-disturb, put up a sign of some sort, so others know that you’re doing deep work and don’t want to be distracted, but really focus in on investing a little bit of your time on Fridays for you.
So if you’re doing goal-setting, this is your time to check in, to see how are you doing, writing down your clear goals, making sure that your goals are still working towards the person that you want to become. And then assessing how have I done this week, have I worked actively towards my goals, what are the small steps I’ve done this week, and what can I do the following week in order to make these goals happen.
I want you to focus on skill-building. I want you to think about the fact that when you’re spending time honing in your skills and increasing the way that you work, not only is it a benefit for your job that you’re working at, but it’s a benefit for you because it allows you more opportunities, and it gives you a way to build up that confidence in yourself.
So try finding something that can teach you new skills you can work on during this future-self Friday time. Hone these skills over time. A lot of people in my LiveWell
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method course choose to assign a day or two to course work, and some of them choose to do this on Friday, completing a few lessons in that day. That allows them to hone in on those skills that will benefit them in the long term.
And that leads me to using your Fridays for learning. Learning, growing, strategizing are all important for you, and your business, but really for you. And they should really be listed on your priority list as an important task, but we do tend to push them off as leisure tasks or things that’ll happen some time. Make time for these important tasks on Fridays. Save any relevant articles or books or resources throughout the week, and then set aside a chunk of time to read through them and really explore, and then use this time for your long-term projects.
Really, these are the tasks that should be falling under the important category on your priority list. But they tend to get pushed aside because just like learning, just like skill-building, they don’t feel immediate, there’s no urgency to them. But if you’re doing little things every single week to get you to this long-term project, it’s going to make a huge difference. And as you get closer to the end of this long-term project, it no longer becomes an urgent task. So I really want to encourage you to take time on Fridays to invest in you on a regular basis.
We’ve talked throughout this episode about how important it is to understand your bread crumbs and to look at your patterns and to carve out that time and investing in you. But where do you start? Well, I actually have a download that I think will be really helpful to you, and it’s my reflection sheet, that goes along with goal setting, that I’ve given you in the past, but I’m gonna go ahead and link to it again in this episode. So you’ll be able to find that at inkwellpress.com/55.
My reflection sheet goes through six ratings. I ask you to rate some different areas of your life, and then I ask a series of 15 questions to help you look at the highs and the lows of your past year. And that will help you to start thinking of possible patterns that you go through. This download looks at what brought you the most joy, and the experiences you would love to repeat, as well as those that you would never want to repeat.
Looking at your answers to these, as well as your best and worst decisions, you can reflect on if you’ve had iterations of these experiences and these choices in the past. Is this a pattern in your life? Is this something that is happening again and again? One of the most useful questions, I think, is for goals you didn’t accomplish, what is holding you back. And I want you to think about the negative patterns, and if they could be at play here. Because as I mentioned to you earlier, negative patterns can be disrupted and turned into positive ones.
But here’s what I want you to take away. Use your bread crumbs to help you grow. Knowing and understanding what patterns and cycles you have in your life, understanding what’s positive and what is negative, and what’s repeating again and again, is so powerful. Take the time to explore this topic and really think it through. Your bread crumbs will help you invest in you.
And I’m excited to share with you my own bread crumbs in this week’s weekender episode, where I talk about how I thought of myself as an accidental
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entrepreneur for a very long time, and it wasn’t even true. So you can look for that episode to be launching later this week. Next week will be an Ask Tanya episode, so I do want to encourage you to feel free to submit a question that you’d like me to answer. Just go to inkwellpress.com/question, and there’ll be a little form for you to fill out, where you can submit a question, and I’ll choose a few to answer next week.
Alright, I hope you’re taking the time to invest in you, and I hope that this season, you’re really beginning to understand the importance of spending time on you. Alright, until next time, happy planning.
Thanks for listening to Productivity Paradox from inkWELL Press. To join Tanya’s free group, simply go to inkwellpress.com/group.