Catchy title hey?
Today I am essentially going to tell you what you already know, and what you do not want to hear - because that is what a good teacher does 😉
I am going to tell you the number one secret (that is not really a secret at all) that separates those who achieve their goals, those who create lives they want, those who find greater and greater fulfillment throughout their lives, and those who flounder, make the same "resolutions' year after year never accomplishing their goals, those who just generally feel like they are stuck.
This one tool will help you create a better marriage, create a better body, advance in your career, and will even help you become a better spiritual student or teacher. This 'trick' literally applies to every area of your life and will improve every area of your life you apply it too.
- What I am going to tell you is the thing that helped me go from hating myself to loving myself.
- It took me from working a job I hated and was too smart and overqualified for to doing something meaningful that I enjoy and am good at.
- It took me from flip flopping all over the place and struggling with my health to being in the best physical shape of my life.
- It took me from being dissatisfied with my spirituality and my spiritual practice to feeling more and more connected, in tune and tapped in every day.
So what was this magical key that unlocked my life, and that can unlock yours too?
Ready for it?
Consistency is the number one tool that you need to develop in order to create the life you want.
Why do I believe that consistency is so powerful?
Due to the fact that Rome was not built in a day. Neither were the pyramids. Neither were really fit and healthy bodies. Neither was the Oprah empire, or the Facebook empire or the Apple empire.
You do not have to start running a marathon every day in order to get fit.
You do not have to commit 23 1/2 hours a day to your business for the next month in order to make yourself successful.
You do not have too overhaul your entire diet tomorrow in order to get healthy.
All you need to do is pick a few habits that contribute to your forward momentum in any area of your life, and then commit to doing those things on a regular basis.
Rome was built because the Romans kept on showing up, day after day to building it. They did what they could do that day, and over time Rome was erected.
Oprah kept showing up to read the news. Then she was offered her own show, and she just kept showing up to make shows. Then she made a magazine. She took steps, consistently over time to create her success.
Healthy people have healthy habits. They do not flip flop from one diet to another, one extreme workout regiment to nothing, eating everything in sight then going on a juice fast.
"You are what you repeatedly (ie. consistently) do" - Aristotle
The biggest reason people resist the idea of small, consistent action rather than big sweeping changes is because at first it seems boring. Results come slower. It can feel monotonous and even discouraging at times. We are so used to being told that 'quick fixes' exist and that they work that the idea of putting in the time and hours it takes to be consistent with something just feels counter intuitive.
But the truth is if you commit yourself to small action each day, you will create a habit that supports your success. You will create a lifestyle that supports your success.
Consistency will save you from the two major roadblocks to success, which are:
1. Not Accomplishing Your Goal At All: This happens because you either never start taking effective action towards your goals due to feeling overwhelmed by the task or you burn yourself out along the way.
2. You Accomplish Your Goal But Can't Maintain Your Success: This will occur because you used extreme, non sustainable measures to get you to your goal that you cannot sustain over the long run.
Extreme diets or exercise regiments wont get you healthy and fit for life, because you wont be able to do them for the rest of your life. They will help you feel totally deprived, or totally exhausted, so that all you want to do is go back to your old habits, which created the body you didn't love in the first place.
Working around the clock for months on end is going to lead to burnout, which means you wont be able to maintain any success burning the candle at both ends got you. You will most likely end up quitting or resenting what you do.
Practicing meditation for 8 hours a day for a week, then not again for another 2 months wont get you to enlightenment. It will most likely get you to frustration.
Consistency almost always guarantees success because:
1. You crave homeostasis and pleasure: Making giant sweeping changes to your lifestyle will make you uncomfortable and most people are not able to force themselves to do uncomfortable things for very long. We need to feel like we can predict our realities, and that our realities give us a good feeling. Choosing smaller actions you can do each day will create a new 'normal' for you, which will feel comfortable, and the rewards of your new healthier or more productive habits will make you feel good about yourself - thus providing pleasure.
2. You Will Create A Lifestyle To Support Your New Reality: If you take extreme measures to accomplish your goal, chances are you wont be able to carry on living that way for very long. Like in our examples above, what happens after the extreme diet gets you to your goal weight? You most likely wont be able to healthfully maintain eating extremely, so you will be stuck not knowing what to do, which will most likely lead you right back to doing what you were doing before. If you make gradual changes to your eating that you can stick to forever because you enjoy these changes and enjoy the results they give you, you will have created a lifestyle that supports your new body. You wont have to try - it will just be what you do.
If you feel good about committing to eating 10 servings of fruits and veggies a day, then doing that for several weeks is going to help you create a new healthy habit you can maintain for the rest of your life. Then when that feels comfortable and normal for you, you can add in a new step like walking for 20 minutes 6 days a week. With this approach you wont feel like you are 'trying' to accomplish your goal. You will be creating a new normal for yourself, which is effortless to maintain.
If you know you can comfortably commit 2 hours a day to writing your memoir - just do that. Show up for two hours a day. No more, no less. The writing of your book will then be an inevitable consequence of your consistent writing.
Are you starting to see what I am trying to say?
If larger changes to your lifestyle are something you feel you can do and stick with forever, then go for it. I am not saying grand sweeping changes cannot ever be successful - I am just saying you must have a long term vision in mind.
Always ask yourself "is this new habit something I can see myself doing forever and being happy, healthy and holy as I do it?" If the answer is no, I encourage you to take a more sustainable approach to change.
1. Choose your goal.
2. Choose 1 or 2 action steps that lead you towards your goal that feel doable for you in this moment.
3. Do those steps on a regular basis until they feel normal and natural.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you reach your goal.
Finally, I will leave you with this. My mom used to tell me that 70% of school was just showing up. And so it is with life. If you can show up for yourself on a consistent basis you quite literally give yourself the best chance you could possibly give yourself to get to where you want to be. 99% of the time. Slow and steady wins the race. The tortoise beats the hare. Just show up.