If you share a statistician’s obsession with charts, you will come to notice that every long term success depends almost entirely on applying what works time and again over a long period of time.
The long term concerns itself with the habits, dedication, extended motivation and drive to act. It is often times tightly linked with slow and hard to notice progress, but all in all far more satisfying.
Observing success over a limited time frame is hence not the core interest of personal development. Granted, small wins are important and are in itself a whole chapter of self-improvement. But what gives personal development the appeal it has earned as a philosophy is tilting towards the bigger picture and not being afraid to devote oneself to a certain practice regardless how naive it looks at the time.
And pulling sentences from people who are much smarter than me, noticing the same advice in text ranging from nowadays legends like Tony Robbins all the way back to Napoleon Hill and even taking roots in philosophy that is older still, there is one crucial ingredient regurgitated over and over- consistency.
Personal development’s main goal
If you thought that personal development is aiming towards reaching milestones that are both tangible and easy to measure, then our perceptions of it dramatically diverge.
The core premise of personal development is improvement of oneself, that’s a given. But what is even more important is that it aims to make you prone towards learning, improving. Constant improving, that is. The goal of personal development is personal development itself. It is about teaching you how to make constant and intentional changes to your life every day, seven days a week.
It’s the act of improving that matters, rather than any result that can be measured.
Why consistency never fails
If I can chose only one trait, I’ll take consistency any given day. It is simple, you see. Consistency implies organic-like growth. And everything in nature complies with this law one way or another. Start doing something repeatedly over a longer period of time and it gets refined, stronger in resolve, better on so many levels.
World-class athletes, artists, performers of any kind- they all praise repetition, intentional and constant effort.
Other successful people second this narrative by trying to religiously follow habits, rules, principles. The key is to never diverge from the habit – consistency all the way.
Ideas for applying consistency
The hardest part is getting into the mindset which dictates the need to constantly engage for the sake of improvement. Once this is achieved personal development takes an entirely different course.
And as with any other new trait that you try to obtain, the process is noticeably similar here as well.
Here are some ideas as to easily embrace consistency as a personal trait.
1. Start from the frame
Let me explain this. Setting the frame here would mean adjusting all the things that come as a second nature. The usual stuff, you see. Stuff like when you wake up, when you eat, when you go to bed. This is the basis for any other act of consistency you are hoping to achieve. See this article about successful people and their sleeping habits and you will for sure notice the pattern which serves as a frame to everything else they are doing throughout the day.
2. Pick one major task and devote to it
In order to fully devote to creating the habit of consistency it is better to pick one thing you are hoping to dedicate to. Let it be something more complex so you can dissect from there. Something like improving your skills for work (writing, speaking, extrapolating creative solutions…), or something like a fitness or weight loss journey, or learning something new like adopting a hobby or whatnot… The consistency here would mean constantly thinking about it, discussing it over and over, taking intentional and planned action as to get there.
3. Recognize the smaller wins
These are crucial for the sake of conditioning yourself to adopt consistency. Have set yourself to run the marathon? Try to convince yourself to make a room for running every single day. Or go and make a schedule or a calendar.
Get up early and construct a ritual where you stretch and then put your shoes on or whatever gets you going. The thing here is to recognize the smaller rituals leading to the completion of your daily task related to your major goal. These will allow you to enter the state of constantly engaging and being able to repeat things in a sequence over and over.
If you have set yourself to improve your writing, the thing here will be to set aside 20 minutes of the day and read a book or a magazine or some blog out there. This will allow you to both prepare yourself to enter that state where you write, as well as dictate a new earned confidence connected with the ability to devote to your thing.
4. Learn to enjoy the thing you are trying to devote to
Easier said than done, but this is a game changer indeed. If you learn how to feel strong about your thing, enjoy in every aspect of it, try to introduce diversity in it, you are half way there to creating the trait of consistency in everything that you do. Love the thing you do, and trust and believe in your progress. The more you trust and the more you believe the bigger the chance to stick with it.
Another thing that guarantees progress is focusing on the moment of doing. Do this only and never observe the act of consistency as from afar. Focus on the task at hand.
You don’t try to build a wall. You don’t set out and say “I’m gonna build the biggest, baddest, greatest wall that has ever been built”. You say “I’m going to lay this brick as perfectly as a brick can be laid”. You do this every single day, and soon you have a wall. ~ Will Smith
This quote, in itself, represents and encompasses the whole philosophy of consistency as a trait. Will Smith, a role model of mine, always preaches about how every great thing happen the same way – by applying constant effort over a longer period of time. There isn’t any other way around that. Trust and believe.
Image credit: By Steven Feven-Williams