The major reason why you’re struggling to be consistent is that you’re focused on the outcome rather than the process. This is not to say that the outcome is not important, but if we become fixated on the outcome, it will work against us, no matter how compelling. Why? Because any outcome compelling enough to excite you is probably one that won’t be achieved without hard work and sacrifice over a long period of time. Without certain processes in place to help us, most of us aren’t able to maintain the effort needed to accomplish these outcomes.
If you want to achieve your desired outcomes, you must build consistency into your plan. But before we get to that, we need to define the plan. For me the plan consists of four parts:
- Identifying the desired outcome (e.g. “I want to become fit”).
- Identifying the big “why” behind your desired outcome (e.g. “By becoming healthy in mind and body, I will have the energy to meet the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of my loved ones”).
- Setting goals that will gradually get you to your desired outcome (e.g. Lose 10 pounds in 30 days).
- Developing processes to accomplish these goals. (e.g. 3 miles run 5 days a week).
We’ll focus primarily on the fourth step of the plan because it’s most relevant to the idea of developing consistency. It’s in this fourth step that most good intentions fall apart.
WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING CONSISTENT?
If you want to overcome the lack of consistency in your life, it’s important to recognize why it’s even important in the first place.
- Consistency is going to help keep you accountable.
- Consistent actions are going to progress you toward your goals, so if you’re not being consistent and you’re not making progress, you may be struggling with consistency.
- Consistency also helps you stand out. People will notice your consistent efforts.
- Consistency builds trust – not only with yourself but with others as well.
- When you remain consistent, you’re less likely to doubt your ability to take on new tasks in the future.
- You’re more likely to choose new habits to work into your routine.
- Others are more likely to recognize you as the go-to resource person because when you’re loaded, you are needed!
REASONS WHY YOU’RE STRUGGLING TO BE CONSISTENT
Many of us set goals at the beginning of the new year. Some make resolutions, while others rely on prophecies from their spiritual leaders.
So, we all have goals and dreams that we want to achieve! And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that; however, we tend to become more focused on the outcome than we are on the growth that comes along the journey. Instead of reminding ourselves of the small wins we achieve each day, we tell ourselves that we’re not much closer to achieving our goals. In reality, you’re much closer than you were before you got started in the first place.
Robyn Conely Downs said, “Radical consistency comes from a focus on the process, not perfection.”
You’re equating consistency with intensity
One thing that we fail to recognize is that our actions don’t need to be perfect for them to be consistent. Consistency doesn’t have to be all or nothing. We don’t need to start 10 habits at once. Instead, consistency is looking back and seeing the accumulation of the consistent actions you’ve taken over time. For instance, walking for 30 minutes every day for a month will eventually become a habit. At that point, you can add in a half-gallon of water every day. Then you can add strength training for 4 days a week. Do you get where I’m going with this?
Identify the areas you want to achieve growth
I suggest that you make a list of the areas you want to improve in your life. If you are going where you have never been to -what do you do? You find a map, and on the map, it says very clearly “YOU ARE HERE” with a big arrow once you follow it. You cannot be consistent if you don’t have a map – a plan to follow, which is an encouragement that shows your progression in the course of the journey.
Can you to do a quick assessment of where you are in different areas of your life right now? This shouldn’t take more than 10-20 minutes. Think about your relationships, career, extracurriculars, finances, spirituality, etc. Rate those areas on a scale of 1-10 and prioritize which areas you want to start with. And get going pronto without delay!
Focus on one thing at a time
It’s so important to prioritize your goals and work on them in a way in which you won’t feel overwhelmed. There’s a reason why your doctor isn’t going to tell you to quit smoking, quit drinking, and cut out sugar all at the same time! You’re going to fail at them all, then feel like you’re a failure when that’s not the case. You just need to switch your approach and focus on one goal at a time.
Remember your why
Everything you do in life will have a reason behind it. Even if the reason is meaningless or silly. When it comes to consistency with your goals, your reason is going to have to be impactful. Your why needs to be so personal and meaningful to you that you’ll want to keep going. If your why is superficial, it most likely won’t be enough to keep you going. Be encouraged you to dig deep and think about why you want to be consistent with ABC or XYZ. Be specific. Get deep. Journal it if necessary.
Don’t prioritize your schedule, schedule your priorities
Many of us have tons of ideas floating through our minds on a day to day basis. And if we don’t write them down, the chances of them happening are slim. To set measurable goals and stick to them, start by writing them down. The simple act of putting your goals down on paper is the first step to bring them to life.
We often wake up feeling uninspired or unmotivated to tackle our goals, so we tell ourselves that we’ll do the task later. But later never comes. Then the next day comes, and we’re upset because we didn’t do what we said we’d do the day before. And the cycle continues.
Have you ever tried to be proactive instead of reactive? Basically, there are always going to be spontaneous things that happen throughout the day which can derail our progress on our goals. But if we try to be proactive by scheduling our tasks into convenient parts of our day, we’re less likely to skip over them or let unplanned events get in the way. One of the many ways you can achieve this is by time blocking.
Don’t forget to create a schedule that works for you. Based on your daily routine, where does it make sense for you to incorporate this new goal? One of the most simple yet effective ways to be consistent and get control of your schedule is the Ivy Lee method. At the end of the day, write down your six most important tasks to complete the following day. Write them down in order of most important to least important. Work on one task at a time. This helps save time because you already prioritized your tasks the night before.
- Discipline over motivation
Earlier I mentioned how motivation basically fails every single time. Motivation is fleeting – it comes and goes in random bursts. If you want to overcome lack of consistency in your life, you need to toss motivation out the window. Well, maybe not entirely but mostly. Motivation has its use for sure, but when you want to build a new habit, routine, or work towards your goals, you’ll need to recognize that discipline will get you further than motivation ever will.
Discipline is going to help you conquer the voice in your head that tells you to relax instead. Discipline is going to help you keep going even when you’re afraid of failure (along with a proper mindset). Discipline is going to help you be honest with yourself, adjust your goals and be strategic with your action.
- Be present
In the simplest terms, being present means being fully engaged in the task at hand. It means quieting our tendency to waste mental, spiritual, and emotional energy worrying about past or future things — none of which we have the ability to control.
As a teacher/writer/coach, being present begins with minimizing distractions. This means waking up early before the rest of the household. It means staying away from the internet and putting away my phone or setting it to “do not disturb.”