As humans, we tend to be creatures of habits, doing the same things over and over again. When trying to achieve something, we work at it by being consistent, but is consistency a good thing? It sounds very positive in that, by being so it would appear there’s a better chance of achieving. That’s not necessarily the case though, there are many famous quotes to suggest otherwise.
Oscar Wilde said, “Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative”, while Aldous Huxley said, “Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are dead”. That doesn’t make it sound too positive, does it? On the other hand, Anthony Robbins said, “It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently”. Confused? Don’t be!
There’s also the saying, “If you are persistent, you will get it. If you are consistent, you will keep it”. As far as I’m concerned, this is the key. There’s a big difference between persistent and consistent, but together they can be powerful, as long as it doesn’t lead to being over-comfortable or complacency.
Why Is Consistency a Good Thing?
Most successful businesses thrive on being consistent. If they develop a winning formula, it gets applied to each new branch or business they open and so the growth and success continues. The problems begin if the formula is too rigid and doesn’t allow for outside or unforeseen circumstances. Changing or adapting should be a part of the consistency rather than a barrier to it.
It’s the same in our lives, if we’re persistent with our efforts to reach our goals, we have a better chance of achieving them. Persistence is the key to achieving and being consistent will help us achieve again and again. Take two different goals, one may require physical effort and the other, mental effort. It’s possible to tackle both in the same way with consistency.
For example, making a plan for each of them and breaking them down into smaller goals. Being positive towards them and applying a certain amount of time to them every day would make you consistent with both. What you actually do and the effort you put in may differ for each of the goals, but you have a consistent approach to both of them. You see, consistency is a good thing, because it’s not about becoming stagnant and keeping things how they are. It’s about having a formula that works and you can apply to different situations. It’s not rigid, in fact you might want to be consistent with change.
How to Stay Consistent with Goals
Whatever the goal, you must believe you can achieve it. You should be able to see and feel the achievement, as if you’ve already done it. Your mind is delivering the subconscious a future reality but presenting it as happening now. With repetition it gets imprinted, so it helps you to act in the way you need to in order to achieve. This is about committing to the goal, being true to yourself and being accountable.
Taking small steps every day will create new habits. A couple of years ago I followed the Couch to 5K running plan because I wanted to get fit. It involves running and walking for short periods which slowly increase until you reach 5k non-stop running. When I started it, after a couple of minutes I was struggling and thought 5k would be impossible. I ignored those thoughts and persisted but was also consistent with the training and slowly began to see results. I did it because I wanted to and focussed on the end result. The mix of persistence and consistency can be magical.
There’s quite a lot of repetition involved when being consistent, which is why there’s often some negativity around it. The difference is, as with my running, being consistent with the plan but stretching yourself or making some changes each time moves you closer to the goal. You really don’t need to do the same over and over again without changing or adapting, it’s more about evolving.
The Reality of Consistency
There are many reasons why people fail to be consistent because there can be many distractions. Often, there’s a lack of real commitment which can cause problems if we don’t see immediate results. Unfortunately, we live in a world where instant gratification is the driving force and it has no time for consistency. Seeing the endgame and feeling it, is important because it helps with commitment. Affirmations and visualization can be a big help, and these should be used consistently too.
Take a look at consistencies in your life, not the getting up at the same time every day type, but those which work for you. It might be something like doing exercise every morning before you go about your day. Then consider something that isn’t so good for you, where you’re also consistent. That might be having a beer or glass of wine every evening before dinner. Both involve consistency, but the responsibility is yours. It always comes back to you, the habit was formed by you, consistency can be your liberator or your defeater.
Earlier, I said that consistency is a good thing and that’s because I chose it to be so. The reality is, that it’s neither good nor bad, it is what you want it to be. I believe there’s no answer to the question, is consistency a good thing, because you have the power to decide for yourself. Choose wisely!