Consistency: the quality of being consistent (of a regularly occurring and dependable nature)English Dictionary
This is a discipline that evaded me for a long while before I finally harnessed it. When I learned the power of consistency, many pieces of the puzzle fell into place and life got easier and more pleasant to live! I will share with you four rules I learned about consistency:
1. Don’t bite off more than you can chew
Failure had me down and out for what felt like the umpteenth time when I finally learned that small increments towards a goal are better than one quantum leap. I think this is large because the quantum leap is a trick of time that does not exist but only appears to.
In his book The Slight Edge, Jeff Olson explains why life seems to be going well for some people and really bad for others. He attributes it to countless daily decisions and actions which he appropriately terms the slight edge. Jeff’s book radically altered how I approached targets through the story of the water hyacinth.
The water hyacinth is a beautiful, delicate-looking little plant. Prized as an ornament, it sports six-petaled flowers ranging from a lovely purplish-blue to lavender, to pink. You can find it floating on the surface of ponds in warm climates around the world.
The water hyacinth is also one of the most productive plants on earth; its reproductive rate astonishes botanists and ecologists. Although a single plant can produce as many as 5,000 seeds, the method it prefers for colonizing a new area is to grow by doubling itself, sending out short runner stems that become “daughter plants.”
If a pond’s surface is fairly still and undisturbed, the water hyacinth may cover the entire pond in thirty days.
On the first day, you won’t even notice it. In fact, for the first few weeks you will have to search very hard to find it. On day 15, it will cover perhaps a single square foot of the pond’s surface … a barely significant dollop of color dotting the expanse of placid green.
On the twentieth day (two-thirds of the way to the end of the month), you may happen to notice a dense little patch of floating foliage, about the size of a small mattress. You would be easily forgiven if you mistook it for a boy’s inflatable life raft, left behind during a family picnic.
On day 29, one-half of the pond’s surface will be open water.
On the thirtieth day, the entire pond will be covered by a blanket of water hyacinth.
You will not see any water at all.
Another such life-changing lesson in consistency was in a conversation with a member of my accountability team. He shared a story of how he had achieved success as a software developer. In college, a few of his friends decided to attempt to make money through an app they had written code for. When the rubber hit the road, only one friend and he went through with it. It took a whole year for them to make a dollar from their apps but they had seen that it actually can work.
It was upwards and onwards from then on.
Friends from that same group ask him how he has managed to achieve success in the computer science world before the ripe old age of thirty. He is too kind to say it but I would probably tell them that the choices they made daily from the group decision to date had placed them where they were. He tells me every time I see him, “Even if it is only a line of code, I will write that every day instead of doing nothing.”
The sting of defeat is unpleasant and can be debilitating if we let it.
I felt this time and again on my weight loss journey. As a 16-year-old, I weighed 83 kilos. Trying to skip meals or eat healthier backfired on me so many times because I bit off more than I could chew. Two of my most successful attempts at weight loss happened in my final year of high school and third year of college. After a high blood pressure scare, the doctor advised me to take on some form of physical activity. I used this to propel me into jogging every morning. It took only 10 minutes to complete a circuit around the school and 5-10 minutes to stretch afterward. I committed to losing a kilo every week by jogging every morning (come rain or shine) and reducing my food portions. The exhilaration of seeing the scale read one kilo less propelled me into action for yet another week. I lost 11 kilos that year and left high school at 72 kilos.
This is how I approach my weight loss goals now.
I take it a week at a time, consistently. I have learned that my staying power increases every week that I have results. And even in the face of no results, I am more likely to aggressively pursue a challenge for 3-6 days. It came from a place of understanding my habits and leaning into them instead of beating me up for being different.
What goal seems daunting to you right now? How can you break it up into bite-sized chunks so that it is easier for you to progress? Apply the 2-minute rule. If you don’t feel like doing that big thing, do it for only two minutes until you can do it for longer. Break your goals down into actions that take 30 minutes to an hour and do those daily until you reach your goal.
2. There is no one size fits all
Life is not one size fits all. Our struggles though similar are not the same. Our victories and the journeys to attain them are not going to be the same either. Though we may cross paths and pass the same landmarks, everyone has his own lane.
The realization of this freed me from the vice-like grip comparison had me in. When the principle of relativity of success sank in, pettiness and pity parties ceased. I started to channel my energy towards my journey; effectively diverting it from coveting other people’s seemingly easy success.
No matter what you are working towards; good grades, a job promotion, a weight goal, do not take your eyes off your lane.
Like a swimmer in the Olympics, crossing into another person’s lane may disqualify you. In life, this disqualification may take on the form of demotivation. Because you are moving in a lane that was not meant for you, you seem to drag behind this person. Eventually, your focus shifts from you to beating the person; an unattainable feat. And even if you do manage to bypass them and reach the finish line, the scoreboard will have their name and not yours on it. A boatload of energy chucked out the window of pointless competition because you got out of your lane.
The fanfare of another person’s victory many make your heart sink as you look back and see the starting line a few feet from your current position. You have no idea what that person has struggled through to get that victory. As a matter of fact, theirs might be an obstacle course while yours is a clear path to the finish line (life does not deal in these though). The point is someone’s victory is not indicative of your failure. Do not give into the lull of comparison’s siren song. Run your race in your lane!
3. Learn to celebrate the small victories
As a very competitive person, I often downplayed my achievements if I felt like they were not big enough. Getting a high score on my tests was never good enough unless it was above 95% and even then only if I was the very first. This set unrealistically high expectations for me that left me constantly disappointed in myself.
I am grateful that I was delivered from this scourge and now celebrate any victory I attain. I have found that this allows positive energy to flow from my heart to my life and those around me. It also keeps me going. The thrill of the win keeps me moving forward in spite of failure, fear, and speed of progress.
4. Match your motivation to your personality type
I have read John Maxwell’s 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth three times. The third time was a charm as I pored over the words in his exposition on the Law of Consistency. I had failed at business and achieving the wealth and body I desired because I lacked consistency.
His advice to match my motivation to my personality type worked wonders for me. It is like a light had been switched on in my dream store and I could see just how each dream could be revived and achieved. I recall applying it with great specificity to my body goals dreams. By this time, it was all about proving to me that I could weigh less than 70 kilos. All my previous attempts had brought me shy of the 70 mark and it was driving me to insanity. I decided to start an Instagram account and keep updating my progress there. The choleric in me could not stand to be humiliated before many people so it kept me working at my goals until 65 kilos that I hope to weigh at the end of the year.
We are all different as I have said before and find motivation in different things. While I may be motivated by the desire to prove a fact wrong, you may be more inclined towards a fun-filled activity or journey. Embrace who you are and design your strategy for motivation around your personality.
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Until next time,