There's no human on earth who's a stranger to this experience:
A classic & all-too-common cycle of inconsistency.
Unfortunately, the only way to experience the change you're seeking is through consistency. Every single person who has made meaningful progress in some aspect of their life holds one thing in common: they just kept going. They showed up every day & ticked off the tasks they needed to do on a regular basis.
Problem is, consistency isn't sexy. We want the quick solution that completely transforms our life without the effort. The idea of sticking at something for an extended period of time without the guarantee of instant results isn't even considered.
So, if consistency is the key to you experiencing growth & positive outcomes in life, the question is how do you develop a consistent mentality?
Now I'm no master of the art of consistency, but I have become conscious of the times during which I'm able to hold a more consistent approach. Resultantly, I've broken down the process of developing consistency in to 5 fundamental steps - let's get into them.
1. Know Yourself.
It all starts with this.
Gaining greater self-awareness - understanding your true values, wants, & ambitions - lies at the root of motivation & fulfillment.
But, peeling back the layers of yourself isn't an easy task.
From an early age we’re heavily influenced by both the people we're surrounded by (parents, teachers, friends) & the information we're exposed to (social media, TV, etc.). We’re bombarded with ideas of what equates to ‘success’ & what constitutes a 'good' life. As a result it's really tough to distinguish what you truly care about & want to experience in your life.
Most of us go through the early stages of life without questioning whether society's idea of ‘success’ or what leads to fulfilment, is actually a universal truth.
Okay, but how does knowing yourself help develop consistency?
For as long as you’re focused on goals & ambitions that aren’t your own (but instead are those of the people around you & society at large) you’ll struggle to feel compelled to commit to them.
That's not to say that there's anything wrong with their goals, ambitions, & desires - they might be perfectly good for some people. But, they don’t necessarily align with what you care about & deem as important - meaning that pursuing them will feel unnatural & create inner conflict.
How do you gain greater self-awareness?
There are several ways to develop self-awareness, which I'm going to delve into in a later article, but one method that I'm going to suggest is journaling. Get yourself a diary/journal, whack out a pen, & get to writing. Ask yourself some imporant questions, like:
I can't express how important it is to write the answer to each of these questions down & revisit them at least once a week - even just for 5-10 minutes.
So, before doing anything else, start to learn more about who you are, what it is that you want for your life, & care less about what those around you are doing.
2. Clarify the Big Picture
Once you're clear on what matters to you, you should have a whole lot more clarity on your big picture ambitions.
A long term game-plan - an outline of what you want to achieve in the future - is essential for you to orient yourself in the world. We all enjoy the feeling of making progress, but the only way to experience this feeling is by having a clear ideal to strive towards.
So, get out a pen & paper & write down what you'd like to achieve over the next 6 months, 12 months, & even 5 years.
Be incredibly specific. For example, one of the things I've been pursuing over the past few years is business growth. But when I sit down to outline my big picture ambitions, I don't simply write "I want to grow my business". I outline specifically the number of hours that I'd like to be working each week, the income I'd like to be earning - metrics that allow me to measure my 'success'.
Now, having a big picture goal is great, but I'm now going to give you a kind of contradictory piece of advice.
Once you're clear on your big picture goal, forget it.
Because the next step is to break it down & outline how you're going to make it happen.
3. Small, Simple, Daily Steps.
A big picture goal gives you direction, but without simple, actionable steps, it can be tough to know where or how to start.
To overcome this, I think it's vital to break your goal down in to the most basic things needed to make it a realiy.
Let's use the example of someone who wants to build a stronger, more muscular body. To do this they're going to need to:
This simple list provides clear behaviours, providing clarity on what needed to be done on a daily basis. From here, it's a case of repeating those behaviours on a daily basis.. being consistent! So, next let's talk about how you can ensure that you remain consistent with the simple steps.
4. Compare Wisely
It's only natural that we compare ourselves to those around us. We're all inherently occupied with our status - our interpretation of where we stand within the societal hierarchy - for good evolutionary reason; those of high status are perceived as more attractive & valuable by others, in turn making them a more viable partner. We really care a lot about what other people think of us.
Now let me be clear, I do think that comparison is a useful tool for you to gauge where you're at, but only when the comparison you're making is with your former self.
Unfortunately, most people tend not to draw comparison in this way. Instead, the vast majority of us compare our current position either with someone else, or with the ideal version of ourselves.
Let's talk about the the two main forms of negative comparison & why they don't work well.
Comparison to Others
Your DNA, experiences up until now, & current circumstances are completely unique to you. Therefore, to compare where you currently stand to where another person stands makes literally zero sense. End of.
Comparison to Your Ideal-Self
For as long as you compare where you're currently at to where you'd like to be, you're reinforcing beliefs of lack & inadequacy. Don't get me wrong, it's a good idea to have an ideal version of yourself that you're ultimately striving to work towards. But, this doesn't mean it's a good idea to compare where you are to your ideal.
How to Compare Wisely
The healthy way to draw comparison is to draw it between you of today & your former self - the you of yesterday, last week, last month, or last year. Comparing in this way allows you to become conscious of the progress that you are making and avoids placing internal judgement on what you lack or haven't achieved.
So, next time you find yourself in self-critical mode, stop for a moment & see how it feels to try a different narrative. Instead of comparing yourself to your ideal future self, compare to you of 6 months ago. Reflect on all of the ways in which you've grown & improved as a human being during that time-frame.
You'll find that you've actually learnt quite a lot & that your tendency to veer towards negative forms of comparison is actually only holding you back.
5. Embrace the Process
Your consistency is ultimately dependent on the degree to which you're able to embrace the process.
What does this actually mean? Put simply, embracing the process means directing your focus towards behaviours instead of outcomes. It involves learning to love the process of working towards a goal, instead of viewing it as a means to an end (as a way of transporting you from A to B).
Why does this matter?
For as long as you're fixated on achieving something in the future, you're actually reinforcing the fact that there's a pretty big distance between where you are today & where you'd like to be. Paying too much attention to this gap exists tends to be hugely demotivating.
What's more, one of the things that you realise soon after achieving a goal is that the high doesn't last particularly long. You feel good in the short-term, and then you return back to baseline pretty quickly. Nothing really changes. So, if you're clinging to the idea that making some change to your external reality will fundamentally change your inner experience of life, it's time to wake up.
Therefore, the final step towards a life of greater consistency is to realise that there is no point of arrival. That the narrative you tell yourself of “If I only can achieve ‘x’, then I’ll be happy!!” is an illusion.
Instead, you get to make the choice to show up each day & enjoy the fact that you're improving yourself even in a small way.
I encourage you to live every step of the journey; the challenges, the set-backs, & the wins. Forget about outcomes, and fall in love with the process.
Christian Lawal Personal Training.
Personal training in Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge & Sevenoaks.