“Consistent practice is the key to success”
The idea of consistency being more important than intensity is oft-repeated. The tortoise beating the hare. To maintain fitness we should do exercise on a consistent basis. We are told to work consistently throughout the year rather than cram before exams.
We all know that this is true, but it can be so damn hard to stick to.
I find this particularly difficult, and often find myself frustrated when I am unable to maintain something that I want to.
I have heard that to make something a consistent practice, you have to make it a ‘must’ rather than a ‘should’. But practically, how do you actually do so?
Here are a few things I have found useful:
- Choose only the most important things (as few as possible)
We only have finite capabilities. In a period of frustration we may suddenly decide we should start waking up early every day, go to the gym three times a week and phone our parents every weekend. However, if these are completely new habits and we haven’t built the foundational discipline required, the chances of us maintaining beyond a short period of time are low. Discipline is like a muscle which must be developed over time. Ultimately, we should attempt any behaviour change with the mindset that we will maintain the new behaviour for the rest of our life.
In terms of deciding what is important, Tim Ferriss has a brilliant podcast exploring this.
2. Create a strategy
Sit down and figure out exactly what you want to do and how you are going to do it. Set SMART goals. Be guided by rationality more than emotions. You may feel really motivated right now, but what would you stick to even on days when you feel like shit? Look at yourself and how you have stuck to things in the past objectively.
3. Accept that you will not always stick to it.
After tasking yourself with sticking to something, it can feel like a big failure when you aren’t able to do so. Despite promising myself to write something everyday for 30 days, I didn’t manage to do so yesterday. However, when this happens you mustn’t beat yourself up about it. You should calmly, collectedly continue where you left off.
Consistency is an difficult foe. But I hope these principles help.