“Simplicity is the only ingredient to consistency” ― Chinmai Swamy
What are the words that come to mind when you hear the word goal? Most likely you answered motivation among others. While motivation is a requirement, it is not a full proof strategy on its own. Another word you probably thought about is willpower. The problem with willpower is that it’s a muscle and like any muscle, with too much exertion and overuse, it gets fatigued. Willpower has one tank and it gets used up with every decision we make throughout the day; that’s why most diets are broken in the evening – you were running on fumes.
If motivation and willpower were your go to buddies to get things done, don’t despair. They play a role but you need to introduce a new super power into your repertoire – consistency. This is the magic ingredient that will finally close the gap between knowing and doing and here’s why:
Consistency removes the excuses of ‘I don’t have time’ or ‘I’m too busy’
“It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently.” ― Anthony Robbins
I know it feels like there isn’t enough time to make progress on your life and business goals, never mind your self-care goals. The trick to getting more done isn’t about spending more time but being creative about the pockets of time available to you. A seemingly insignificant 15 minutes of ‘waiting’ time between meetings is wasted on browsing social media or watching cat videos. What if you accumulated all that idol time during the day and consolidated it into 15 minutes in the morning or somewhere that makes sense in your day.
15 minutes seems almost a waste of time but consistency compounds. If you take that 15 minutes (this is not limited to 15 minutes) and watch a TED talk, read, journal, meditate, run – you fill in the blank – it will start to compound. The key is consistency – repeat that process at least 3 to 5 times per week and you will start to create tremendous progress. You can’t start something and then pick it up again 3 weeks later and wonder why it still feels so difficult and you aren’t getting your expected results.
Why does this work? Consistency in action creates progress. It allows you to start in a way that is not intimidating and provides a platform for you to prove to yourself that you can do it. 15 minutes is low stakes – you can count on yourself to see through the task and this builds internal trust. When physiotherapists work with rehab patients, they ask them if they can manage a 3 minute walk. This is easy for the mind to digest and it’s a mental hack to begin. No one can argue that they don’t have 3 minutes in their day to work on their health or that 3 minutes is too overwhelming. Remember – it’s not just about the 15 minutes, it’s the consistent action over time that yields positive results.
Consistency becomes habit
“Stop worrying about where you are at the moment and start getting excited about what the future holds for you through consistent actions and faith.” ― Edmond Mbiaka
A habit is something we do automatically without thinking – I don’t have to ask you if you brushed your teeth today, of course you did. It’s part of your morning and evening routines and happens on auto-pilot. When you develop the habit of consistently repeating the same action, the action becomes wired as a new neural pathway.
Habits remove decision fatigue – should I go for the run or should I hit snooze? Make the decision the night before and just get up. Of course it’s uncomfortable at first but when you can persevere through your mind trying to convince you to take the easy route, eventually it is something you do automatically.
I want you to switch your mind-set from needing motivation and willpower to developing consistent action. Time accommodates what you choose to put into it. However, consistency can backfire if you are not deliberate in your actions. If you consistently multi-task and check your email every 15 minutes, you will develop the habit of procrastination and distraction.
In you consistency take 5 minutes before every meeting to set your intention of how you want to show up and how you can make the interaction meaningful, you will see the results you want.
Consistency removes the pressure of perfection
“Dreams only come true when you appoint strategic consistent actions to wake you up.” ― Edmond Mbiaka
The beauty of committing to just 15 minutes a day is that it is impossible to make something perfect in that time frame but you can create momentum. It leaves you wanting more. You can now move onto the next activity energised versus depleted. When you approach a goal, it is often the enormity of the goal that prevents action and drives procrastination. Deep down, it is fear of failure but gets disguised in other ways.
Is there is a book, a painting, a course – something you want to create but you have been avoiding? Is there a skill you would love to learn to take you to the next level or open an entire new doorway of opportunity? Break it down into bite size chunks. Do one brush stroke, write 2 paragraphs, and download the curriculum but just start. Aim for progress, not perfection. Perfection is procrastination in disguise. You have to finish the task before you can perfect it but when you only allocate 15 minutes to the creation, you hack the fear and build a starting ritual.
Consistency builds resilience
“Part of courage is simple consistency.” – Peggy Noonan
Vitality is a core value for me and I make sure this translates into action in my calendar. I train 6 days per week and have done so for many years – even in winter. A commitment to consistent action builds not only physical strength but mental strength. It is having the self-discipline not to buy into the narrative of ‘I don’t feel like it today’ when I have a broken sleep. I cannot tell you how many mornings I have woken up at 4:45 and NOT felt like going. But I override it because I know how I will feel after having achieved the action and showed up to myself.
It is often on those days where I am my strongest and this plays out beyond the gym. It is on the days I have a disrupted sleep and now have to show up to an auditorium full of people and present a workshop (pre Covid). If I didn’t have the experience of knowing I could do it, the self-talk would probably be really destructive and tell me I won’t manage to be on my A game. It is consistency over time – even when it’s not perfect that builds resilience and the mental strength needed to persevere.
Consistency also allows you the freedom to have periods of grind and ease. It facilitates a balance based on where you are at physically, mentally and emotionally. You aren’t always going to have the same energy levels, that’s life but if you are consistent in your actions, it enables you to move between these periods and still maintain the results you want.
Consistency is how you keep your promises
“People like consistency. Whether it’s a store or a restaurant, they want to come in and see what you are famous for.” – Millard Drexler
Consistency is not just about actions in your goals but how you show up to others. If you think about the brands you trust, it is because they keep their promises. Think about your favourite coffee brand, if it tasted different every time you went and the experience changed from average to superior service, eventually you would stop going and spend your money somewhere it will be valued.
Think about your ‘go to’ restaurant, the place that is your old faithful and never disappoints. It is reliable, they know you, the food is what you expect it to be, the experience is memorable and you can trust it when you bring your friends or clients there. Have you ever had the experience where you recommended a place to someone important and it turns out a disaster and utter disappointment? It is like the place has betrayed you and your trust for good.
Now – how you are showing up to your teams, clients, colleagues and family? What are you doing to create a valuable experience with every interaction? Are you consistent in your delivery in your promises? Do you work with integrity or do you drop the ball every few engagements? You are remembered for your last deliverable, not what you happened to do well a few months ago.
Be consistent in your promise and how you show up – especially virtually. You have to ensure you are the same person who arrives in person, online and across all your socials. Consistency is key. This goes way deeper than a Facebook profile. Successful networking, gaining sponsors and solid referrals comes down to trust. If I refer a client to a supplier, I am putting my reputation on the line in the trust that the supplier will deliver and provide a first class experience. When you demonstrate consistency over time, you are more likely to gain credibility and be put forward for introductions, referrals or even when you ask for more responsibility in your current role.
“You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results.” ― James Clear
In his best-selling book, Atomic Habits, James Clear says that your days are made up of moments but it is a few habitual choices that determine the path you take.
Consistency is a super-power. Make sure you choose actions that catapult you in the direction of the best possible version of yourself. All it takes is just 15 minutes…
Here’s to showing up to yourself,
Call to Action
Ready to own your days and not feel like they are owning you?
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