Updated: Oct 4, 2018
Consistency. We all crave it. It's in our blood. Whether as a born-with-it thing or a cultural thing, either way it's here to stay.
Routine. Same activity. Keep it going. No matter what. Plan it out and execute. Create a predictable pattern and stick to it. That's how we make a difference. Press on. That's how we change and grow. Day in and day out. We get stronger. We get thinner. We make more money. We clear the clutter. The measure of our very success hinges upon our level of consistency in fact. And so we clamor for more and more and more.
But then what if we aren't? What if we aren't good at this consistency thing? What happens when we can't seem to get a foot hold? What happens when life happens? When we miss a day or a week or a year? What if our circumstances are more accurately curve balls that refuse to relent? Predictable only in their unpredictability. What if we've become consistently lazy or bored or lonely or defeated? We may come to believe we'll never get out. What kind of success is that?
Maybe we aren't the only ones who fall short. Maybe consistency can fail us too. Or so it would seem.
So then where the heck do we turn for some relief from this monster of a machine we worship on both the good days and the bad, for better or for worse? This concept that can catapult us up and into the next level of any number of endeavors, the one that can keep us an arms length from accomplishing any of our goals and dreams, or even the one that leaves us lying in the trenches for fear of failing again. The bane of our existence, this consistency thing, I'll even venture to say.
We need to release the power this concept has over us! We need to take a step back and seriously look at how we look at consistency. Because most of us let it make us or break us. For many of us, its power has actually become its curse. We need another way to stay in the game, because all to often we miss a day or a week or a month and we end up quitting altogether. We psych ourselves out. What we need is a way to psyche ourselves in.
I believe that it is not the consistency per se, or lack thereof, that is our undoing. But the pressure we put on ourselves to perceive it as so. Consider the desire to get in shape. We go out on one run, just one, and our mind is already spiraling out into how we're going to keep this up for the rest of our lives. The next day we are too sore to go out, so we don't follow through on our original mission, and it's back to the couch we go. Or maybe it's eating a cleaner diet that is our goal. We eat one self-prepared healthy meal, or maybe three or four, then break our promise with consistency when the weekend hits. Discouragement and defeat result. We might as well wait, and try again later when we're ready to be more consistent.
This pattern of doing-it-all or doing-it-none is so frustrating and paralyzing! Like quick sand. We get stuck so many times that eventually we lose all ambition to free ourselves at all. We stay the same, waiting for someday. Waiting begets more waiting, and the waiting becomes the only constant we know.
How about rather than waiting until we can commit to consistency for 7 days or 30 days or a lifetime of days, or waiting until we don't feel lazy or bored or lonely anymore, let's take the reigns of the here and now, of what we can control, right here at our feet. Let's relax our preoccupation with what the future *might* hold, and become persistent within each moment instead.
It seems similar, almost indiscernible in degree. But just the slightest turn in perspective can change the entire course of one's life. So consider this: When we focus on persistence, we open ourselves up to the possibilities in every moment. We free ourselves from the heavy expectations of perfection, or the fear of never getting out of the slump we've found ourselves buried in.
Beginning again, and again, and again. No worry or thought given to the next week or day or minute.
In every moment we can persist. And if we don't for awhile, we can let ourselves off the dang hook. Simply begin again. No spiraling out to a future that hasn't even happened yet. Every salad you create, every move you make, every closet you clear, every dollar you earn, is one more salad, move, closet and dollar stronger than you were before. Every decision in the moment, and not a stone's throw further.
Admittedly, if we were to execute our plan to work out or eat healthy every day from here on out, perfected consistency driving our every move, we would achieve our goals that much more quickly. I think that's why consistency is so popular. We don't like to take our time. We want everything as quickly as possible. Money, health, happiness. Now.
But in the real world, and for all of us real people, inconsistency is simply more probable. So, let's err on the side of unpredictable and imperfect. Then we will be better equipped to weather the storms that these motivational missteps bring. To be sure, I'm not saying we should lower our expectations of ourselves to the point where we don't care and we don't try. I'm suggesting we endeavor to become more proactive and present in our persistence. Then we can avoid getting our feathers all in a ruffle every time the sky falls down upon our best laid plans.
When the goal becomes gaining clarity of, and connection with, ourselves as we exist in the moment, it's really hard to worry about the future or the past. So the goal needs to change. Let's strive to reunite ourselves with our innermost passion and purpose, through patience, presence, and curiosity. When we take time to listen to and build respect for our own voices, the actions that result take care of themselves.
The more time we devote to becoming one and the same with who we envision ourselves to be, the easier it is to persist in that vision. Does it take more time? Yes. And patience? Yes. And self-compassion? Yes. And are the results more sustainable? Why yes. Yes they are.
So next time you decide you want to get in shape or to start eating healthy? Don't make a plan! Well, don't make the same plan you've always made. Make a different plan. Rather than vowing to be consistent this time, vow to connect with yourself and your desire first. And plan to persist in each moment, indefinitely. You don't have to fall off that dang wagon ever again. Simply keep going, again and again and again. Learning what brings you closest to yourself within that moment is paramount to the process.
Here are some examples of things you can ask yourself in the moment, before you breeze over what is most important to you for yet another season of life. These types of questions will establish a root system deeper than any calendar ever could. Pause, connect with your WHO and your WHY. Take action from this place. And persist.
What is it that I truly want for my body and my life? Why do I want this/these things?
What am I willing to let go of in order to prioritize these innermost desires? What am I willing to add in to my life to gain traction?
What thoughts and feelings are standing in my way of following through with taking action in the moment? Where did they come from? What purpose do they serve now? How can I re-frame my thinking?
When I imagine feeling more connected with what I truly want myself to be, how do I feel in my body and my mind? Do I want more of these feelings? Why or why not?
Keep your answers close to your cuff. Remind yourself of them always and often. They will keep your compass pointed due north despite all of those unrelenting curve balls.
The world is unpredictable, and we the imperfect and unsuspecting creatures that walk upon it. Consistency only has power over our success or failure if we allow it to wield such influence. Take the pressure off, turn the presence on, and know that you can always move from where you are now. Every minute of every day. No more waiting, no more quitting. Now that sounds pretty perfect to me.
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Here's to putting our healthiest selves first more and more often, as we connect more deeply and honestly with our inner power and passion!
Feed Your Body Well, and It Will Reward You With LIFE!
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