How Can We Be More Consistent?
We know people in our lives who seem to be able to succeed at almost anything they do. It doesn’t matter whether it is their professional career, personal relationships, fitness challenges or even a cooking contest. Somehow, they appear to outdo the competition all the time. As much as we want to believe that they’re just insanely lucky, we know it is not true. As a serious possibilist, we can come to terms that as long as we wake up each morning trying to make things a little better and more productive, we are on our way to becoming an improved version of ourselves.
It is by far the most reasonable bet that odds of a good outcome will be in our favour.
The issue is most of us tend to be stuck in being persistent as compared to being consistent. The line between persistence and consistency is thinner than we think, and we cannot believe in hardwork without believing in results, because they are two sides of the same coin. While at first sight, persistence and consistency manifest in similar ways, we all know that persistence tend to fail in enduring longer than consistency. More than that, blinded persistence leads to an undesired outcome. It is akin to boarding the wrong bus to our destination. It may not be easy to get on the bus, and chances are we’ve all gotten a comfortable seat. It starts to pour a little outside, and we are gradually getting used to observing the raindrops sliding down the windowpanes. But we’re on the wrong bus, and staying on the wrong bus won’t make it the right bus.
If we really want to get to our destination, we need to get off the wrong bus.
When it comes to eating healthily, we persist in eating some of our least favourite food. When it comes to exercising, we persist in doing some of our least favourite workouts. When it comes to reading, we persist in browsing through some of our least favourite genres. When we persist, we are forcing ourselves to stay committed to a long-term goal.
But when we are consistent, we are finding ourselves to stay committed to a long-term goal.
When we are consistent in eating healthily, we find out what is considered as a healthy diet and more importantly, a happy meal for us. When we are consistent in exercising, we find out what is considered as a good workout, and similarly, a fun workout for us. When we are consistent in reading, we find out what is a good book and actually narrow it down to the styles of writing that we enjoy. In the process of persisting, we might be on the wrong bus and sometimes we don’t even know it.
In the process of consistency, we are constantly trying to find out which is the correct bus for us.
Persistence is very much like some of the words that get tossed around a lot — motivation, willpower and desire. Sure enough, we need the basic level of persistence to get us started on anything. Without the inclination, we wouldn’t even lean forward and reach out to our remote controls. We’ll probably just lean back and continue using our phones on our couch. The thing is all of us already have such a fundamental level of determination in us. While most of us persist in putting broccoli after broccoli into our mouths, some of us are already persisting against the idea of eating any broccoli at all.
This is where consistent implementation comes into play.
As much as possible, we want to spend lesser time being motivated and persisting through our goals as compared to spending more time implementing our intentions. We all know that there are so many different kinds of healthy food, effective workouts and productive books out there. If one doesn’t work for us, we can always try the other. The first big mistake is boarding the wrong bus, but the second bigger mistake is staying on the wrong bus hoping that it will lead us to the right destination.
Instead of coming up with vague encouragement such as “I’m going to eat healthier”, “I’m going to exercise this week” or “I’m going to read a book” and leaving it to chance in hope that we will magically feel motivated to do them, we need to come up with a consistent concrete plan. The reason why we feel that we’re persisting through these challenges is because we feel that we lack motivation to carry on further.
But we don’t lack motivation. We lack clarity.
We ought to make our plans obvious. What am I going to eat? When am I going to eat? How much am I going to eat? Do I enjoy eating these food? What workout am I going to do? When am I going to work out? How long will the workout be? Do I enjoy these workouts? What am I going to read? When am I going to read? How long will I be reading for? Do I enjoy these books? Moving forward, we come up with a plan that goes something like — I will [BEHAVIOUR] at [TIME] in [LOCATION]. When we choose to persist, we have to choose it multiple times. When we choose to be consistent, we only need to make the choice once. After that, it is simply a matter of keeping our promise where the pain of a broken promise lasts for a very long time.