Creating Consistency for Continued Growth
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
I don’t think any of us would argue that consistency provides direction, accountability, structure, and predictability. Understanding this concept is not the hard part; the difficulty lies in execution. To get up everyday and stick to the blueprint is challenging because life often has other plans for us. The most well intentioned among us slip up from time to time. Our “daily work” is important but often NOT at the expense of other things. This is where we fall off. The GREAT ones never skip a day. They never cut corners. Their habits are as essential to them as the air they breathe. Let’s look at why some of us stay the course; and some struggle to stay in their lane.
Consistency starts with small, deliberate, correct actions that you must repeat daily. When we simplify the plan, so too can we simplify the process. I would never suggest that growth is easy; we all know that it’s not. It becomes much more difficult when the plan is complicated. Beginning any new task with the end in mind is important but never at the expense of the small, daily steps necessary to get there. Losing 10 pounds starts with 1 pound, and that 1 pound is equal to 3,500 calories. Start your plan with Calorie #1 in mind.
We have been told forever that “Practice makes Perfect”. Even as I typed the previous sentence the computer automatically wanted to finish the statement for me. NOTHING could be further from the truth. Practices DOES NOT make Perfect! Practice makes Permanent. I hope you read that carefully because it is a mistake many of us make as we travel the long, windy road of growth and change. If we set out with the best intentions, start small and deliberately, but practice (work) incorrectly our results will become permanently incorrect. In order to make real change, our skills must be practiced the right way, all the time. When we make a mistake, and we all will, no problem. We should pause, correct the mistake, and begin our practice the right way. Slow down, execute correctly, and you will change accordingly.
The Morning Work
What does your morning routine look like? If we want to establish consistency, it should start when we open our eyes in the morning. If you are having trouble getting out of the blocks to start the day, start your day differently. Remember, small actions can result in great change. Some examples would include: Waking up 15 minutes earlier than normal to avoid rushing, drinking 16 ounces of water then going for a walk before your morning coffee/tea, opening your journal and writing, stretching, reviewing your calendar, etc. Many of us start our day behind on the scoreboard before our feet even hit the floor. There is absolutely no reason for this and it is completely avoidable. There are a lot of things we cannot control but how we choose to start our day is not one of them.
The most consistent people recognize that consistency is not sexy, it is essential. These people are not focused on the end result because they know the process will yield the results. One is a direct and deliberate byproduct of the other. Trusting the process is not a “once in a while” thing; it is in many ways a mission of faith; in any way you describe the term. You are betting on you!!!!! You make this bet every day when you engage in the work that gets you closer to your goal, even though you cannot yet see the finish line.
STOP Hurting Yourself
We cannot grow if we continue to hurt ourselves. Stop hurting yourself! What does this mean? It means that we are quick to internalize our failures and reluctant to celebrate our own successes. It means that when we encounter failure, we define ourselves as failures. Each time this happens we hurt ourselves by devaluing our worth. If we are kind, productive, and mobile, our brain and body work together more effectively than when we self doubt, are lazy, and unproductive. Whatever we feed grows, and our growth is both neurological and physical. Failing does not make you a failure. Failing allows you to reassess and create a different plan.
I have found that posting daily reminders or affirmations help me create more consistency in my work and life. From one day to the next, I may write out 3-20 “post it” notes throughout the day and put them in places I will see them constantly. Sometimes these stickers are relative to tasks and sometimes they are phrases or slogans to keep me motivated. It feels good to take a task, complete it, and trash that note. Try this and see how it works for you. Some examples of the “post it” notes that are in my office as I write this blog.
1. “Take small, deliberate, correct actions today”
2. “Do the Work”
3. “Faith, Family, Friendship”
4. “Deadlifts tonight”
5. “Be present and intentional”
6. “Text the kids and tell them I love them”
It is not what we do once in a while that will change our lives. What we do everyday will create the foundation for the rest of our days. I cannot control what happens tomorrow. I can only control my actions in this moment, and in this space. Let’s not get so far ahead of ourselves that we lose the beauty of what’s right in front of us. We don’t get to benefit from our consistency unless we practice it; and practice it correctly. One good hour at a time.