One of the largest recurring themes that I have encountered of late, is consistency. In podcasts, blogs, training programs, seminars, this word keeps popping up. Strangely enough this coincides with my own realisation, my own discovery, of the need for consistency in my life. The largest struggles that I have had have been with people who lack it. My largest struggles with myself, with my ability to set goals and achieve them has also been a lack of consistency.
I used to think that a word like consistency was synonymous with boring. Predictable. That day in and day out life would have no high points or excitement, but the more I have learnt, about life, about people and about the way things work, the more that I can see the value in consistency, and how the exact opposite is true. For example, someone who is inconsistent, like a younger version of myself, would not be able to save money consistently, would live for the week to week pay packet and waste my money on the instant gratification things. Things that weren’t very exciting at all. But, viewed from another perspective, the little chipping away, the day to day, little bits of saving that add up, mean that the high points, the adventures, are way beyond what I was capable of without consistency. The same applies to other areas.
Through my blogs, my podcasts, my newsletters and even my music. I have learnt the value of consistency within these things. If you build it they will come. Slowly but surely I watch the statistics climb. I watch more and more people download my podcast and I see it grow. Each week I see more people join the mailing list. But I have only seen this level of growth since my commitment to consistency. I will not allow myself to be inconsistent any more. Each and every week I have deadlines, and I meet them. I have learnt that there are better ways to do it than what I am currently doing, which is typing after eye surgery. Hindsight tells me I should have done this week's podcast and blog weeks ago and just had it sitting there. But I am learning. Growing and learning. If I didn’t have the expectation of consistency so firmly embedded into these projects then I wouldn’t learn. I would have simply not done this week's podcast and blog. I would have dropped the ball. But instead, I find other ways: I improvise, and I promise myself that in the future that I will have a better plan.
But what about you? What does consistency offer you? What are the bonuses for committing to your own consistency? Maybe you want some structure in your home life. Maybe your kids are starting to drive you stark raving mad. Consistency is huge when you’re setting up rules and expectations and boundaries for kids because if they think they can get away with something just the once, then they will be trying that fence again tomorrow and testing it for weaknesses, if they know you are true to your words and that no means no, they don’t push half as hard. But maybe you don’t have kids.
Maybe you’re studying and you have deadlines. Projects and assignments due. Consistency is huge here too. Being able to see the big picture, break it down into bite size chunks and then consistently chip away at it every day is huge too. It means that you don’t have the last minute stresses, and it generally means that your output, the quality of your work, is higher. For me, years ago it was about debt and bills. Rather than leaving it until the bill was in the mailbox and I had no money to pay it I would consistently pay extra towards it every week. I worked out how much I needed to pay to keep the bills covered and then I paid an extra five dollars a week. Consistently. This meant that when hard times hit – as a musician that meant any time I got sick and couldn’t sing (there would go my income) it meant that I had a backstop. I might not have been flush with cash, but my rent was in advance and so were my other bills. Little things like this add up.
So does consistency with relationships. If you put up with crap every single day, and then spack out when you’ve had enough, no one else thinks there is a problem. They think you're just having a space attack. But if you consistently, routinely have higher expectations of yourself and others, then people come to know and behave in ways that fit your expectations. If you let it slide sometimes and not others it doesn’t work. But if you’re the same every time – it does.
What about work? I work for myself so consistency is huge. But showing up to work everyday on time, that’s huge. If you’re consistently the late one, there’s a good chance your boss thinks you’re a flake. You can’t even manage your time. Why would you get a promotion?
I never had consistency growing up. It was hard for me to rely on the people around me. One week my mum would say that she would drive me to work, other times it was tough luck. I had to learn to work around that, and not let other people’s inconsistency be the reason for mine. Find a way. Be that person that people can rely on and people will trust you. People will believe in you and eventually you will believe in you too because anything that you put your mind to – if you consistently work towards it – you’ll get there.
What about you? What are you wanting to build? I'm a big dreamer. My dreams are HUGE. But the trick is not to make your dreams smaller but to break them down into bite size chunks. Doable chunks. Then each week, each day, chip away at them. Even at uni, with massive assignments that seemed overwhelming – I would make little lists to help me get through. From writing the bibliography to formatting the document I would list even the little things so that I could tick them off and see the progress. When you can see the progress, it motivates you to keep going. Keep going in the direction of your dreams and instead of the dreams seeming impossible, what will happen instead is you will progress closer and closer towards them until it will be impossible to not reach them. One day at a time. One hour. One minute. Keep heading in the right direction consistently and your going to get there.
Just keep going.