Consistency. Something the creative being in me has resisted and wrestled with most of my life. It goes along with the word discipline, which for a long time felt like a straight jacket – restrictive and stifling – because I associated it with being forced to do things I didn’t want to do (usually because they were hard or I didn’t understand why I had to do them)..
As I have aged and matured I have learned the valuable role that discipline and consistency serve in honing a skill, creating habits and achieving success, especially as a parent and in my business.
Here’s why consistency is so powerful:
1- Consistency is about repetition and we humans learn through repetition. Literally, it builds and strengthens the neural pathways in your nervous system so that certain actions become easier and more automatic.
2- It allows you to move through what psychologist Gay Hendricks calls your “zones of incompetency” and “competency” to access your “zones of excellence” and “genius”. This is the journey of honing a skill, of achieving greater levels of mastery – going from hard and struggling to light and easy.
3- Consistency helps to foster confidence and trust – in yourself and that others have in you. When someone is consistent in their actions, you know what to expect from them and it’s easier to trust them. It goes hand in hand with integrity (doing what you said you would do, when you said you would do it and how you said you would do it)
4- Without the discipline of consistent effort, you don’t see results. When you don’t see results, you are more likely to give up before you achieve your goal and, even worse, it undermines your belief in yourself.
There are certain things we do repetitively and habitually (consistently), like brushing your teeth or having a shower every day. You certainly didn’t come out the womb knowing how to do these things. As a child your parents or caregivers taught you to do these things and then had to consistently remind you to do them until you developed the habit of doing it for yourself.
Similarly, when you are creating a change, you need to employ discipline and consistency until it becomes easier and habitual. Too many times we try something a couple of times and it’s hard (because we are not yet skilled at it) or it hasn’t worked (yet) and we throw our hands in the air and give up.
How many times did you fall down and get back up when you were learning to walk, run or ride a bike? How many times did you erase and rewrite when you were learning to write?
Occasionally you will have a knack for something (you are “gifted” in this area) and it will be easy for you from the start. However, most times it requires consistent repetition over a period of time to master a new skill or state of being (or change an old one that is not serving you).
Ask anyone who has achieved success in anything how much time, effort and practice (consistent repetition) they put in to achieving that success!
Knowing what to expect, that this is the path, is helpful. Having someone to guide you, teach you, encourage you, helps you to make it. Particularly when it comes to changing deeply ingrained habits that we need to unlearn because they do not serve us, such as the habit of negative thinking or self limiting and defeating behaviors like procrastination, overspending and unforgiveness. You have to lay down new neural pathways and the old pathways are well established and deep, so it is easy to default to using them.
So the question is: “Are you willing to commit to being consistent?”
You have to value something enough to be willing to consistently show up, push through, and practice until you achieve it. Your dream, your goal or whatever end result you are looking for, has to matter to you enough to make you want to commit – to do whatever it takes – to achieve it. It’s easier and faster if you have someone to show you how, help you understand how it serves you and encourages you to keep going when it feels hard and you want to give up. Someone to help to remain consistent until you have achieved your goal. As a child your parents, teachers and mentors filled this role. As an adult your spouse, friends, mentors may play this role. If they can. Sometimes they can’t or won’t (I’ll go into this in another post).That’s where having a coach serves. Are you willing? To invest the time, energy and money to achieve your dreams? Does it matter enough to you? Only you can decide. When you do, contact me, I’d be happy to help.