3 ways to be consistently consistent; consistently😊
You know the drill. You’ve started something, going to the gym, learning a language, being kinder to yourself, being more positive at work (I could go on). You do really well, for a bit. You feel the benefits, you think “why didn’t I do that before?”. And then, something happens. You have to travel away for work, you have a holiday, a big project, birthdays and your routine is “broken”. Everything stops and you revert back to “before”.
You feel annoyed at the situation but more frustrated with yourself. And because you don’t want to feel this way again. You don’t try again. The old ways return and nothing changes.
WOW Alexa you got all that from me not going to the gym! 👌😉
Change and real long term change requires consistency. Consistency and showing up regularly is what creates not just change, but real transformation. And the difference between change and transformation?
A clue? A caterpillar transforms into a butterfly.
Change can go back. I can change my hair, but I can also allow it to grow, change back to just how it was. But if something transforms, that’s it. There’s no going back. And that’s where you are, you want to make long term positive changes that work for you and your future. Consistency creates transformation.
So how can you be more consistent? How can you help make this time, THE time?
1) Reward yourself
We are humans. We love to be praised and rewarded. Of course completing and sustaining a new positive habit has its own reward. But how about giving yourself a little extra something provide you with a little extra motivation?
Last year I really fell off the exercise wagon. I didn’t go at all for months. And then I was just going once or maybe twice a week. But what I really really struggled to do was go that illusive third time. That third time, consistently was my aim. So at the beginning of 2020 I decided to create a “Super treats*” fund. I was going to “pay myself” to exercise:
If I go to the gym once in a week = 1€
If I go to the gym twice in a week = 2€
If I go to the gym 3 times in a week = 10€!!!!!
And if I don’t go at all = minus 10€.
A friend of mine has been using this model but for reading as that’s something they really wanted to create a habit for this year. This “Super treat” fund is really working for us. As every week we’ve been adding to it (I’ve not had to take away 10€ yet!), so we both have a tangible measurement of our new habits. Of course we both know that reading and exercise as beneficial enough, but knowing that each time this habit is repeated is an extra motivation as I’m adding to my “super treat” fund for myself because I earned it is really keeping me active.
Could you use this model? What would you like to do more consistently and how could you reward yourself? If you complete your to-do list then you can watch a series? Reward yourself with a special meal? Think about...
The habit you want to create
The “treat” for doing that habit
A long-term way to measure the progress of that habit
2) Be realistic - start small
Tiny steps or (B.J. Fogg) and Micro Steps (Thrive Global) are having a moment. Research demonstrates that attaching gradually larger habits to small habits is one of the most effective ways to support consistency, long term change and transformation. In B.J. Fogg’s case….he attached doing 2 push ups with every bathroom trips and slowly increased the number of push ups he did per trip. He’s now pushing between 40-80 everyday!
How did I learn to be a Coach? One client at a time (apart from the training/practice sessions/reading/videos/podcasts/audiobooks). The mountain to become a Coach was too big for me. So I broke it into manageable stages that I committed to and regularly completed. There is a bigger plan, but to not overwhelm myself I ensure that I focus on the steps I’m taking now and only the next ones. With every step I am getting closer to the top of the mountain, and I am becoming more efficient and effective as I go. It’s a marathon not a sprint.
Is there a small thing you could do that would get you off the starting blocks? 10 minutes you could put aside and protect for an activity that will take you closer to your goal? How could you add to that new small habit once it’s automated?
Recognising that our levels of self-control are limited and are not as strong as we think helps us to not be so critical of ourselves and to make and have a plan B. So that when we “break” a bad habit we don’t need to start again from zero, which can be extremely demotivating.
Prepare for your weakness and make plans when your willpower is high, knowing that at some point your willpower will be weaker. Create an “If/When-then” plan. So that if /when a difficult situation occurs then you have a practical plan in place to cope with any problems that might stop you from truly being consistent.
Last year, I realised that I was spending a significant amount of time online in a non productive way; looking at my phone in bed. (I know I’m not the only one!) For me, this was truly wasted time and had no benefit, yet I still kept doing it. So I made a rule that I wasn’t allowed to look at the two main culprit websites in bed (both are celebrity gossip related I’m afraid). I could look at them when I was on the sofa or anywhere else but bed.
But knowing that sometimes my willpower would be weak, I made a plan. If/When I really wanted to look at my phone in bed (at the weekend for example), then I was “allowed” to but not any gossip websites. That way I was either looking at news websites or articles on Coaching. This reduced my feelings of self-frustration and kept my motivation high as I still hadn’t looked at those websites and I hadn’t completely broken my promise to myself.
What could be your If/When….then plan? How can you prepare for when your willpower is low? How can you be kinder and more realistic and then ultimately more consistent with your habits?
Being consistent is a skill. Taking the first step is often thought of as the hardest step, but in some cases it is steps 2,3,4 and so on that are the tricky ones. Play with these techniques, what works and what doesn’t work for you. Can you adapt them and create your own system that facilitates you being and doing what you want and need to do to bring you closer to your own mountain top?
It takes effort, work and dedication. But as one client said to me this week, “an old teacher asked us once…”
“How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Consistently.”
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Be a better you...consistently.