🖊 This article was last updated on April 8, 2020
You’re a consistent person. You wake up at the same time each day and go to bed at the same time every night. You adhere to the recommended maintenance schedule for your car, your HVAC system, and your computer printer (which can be quite a tedious task at times). You’ve got your routine and you stick to it. You stay consistently consistent in whatever you do.
Except when you don’t.
Everybody falls off the good-habits wagon now and again. Dust yourself off and hop back on.
But what is the secret to staying on the wagon? How do you stay consistently consistent?
The Power of Habits
The most reliable way for achieving consistent consistency is by turning it into a habit. Habits are natural mechanisms for automating tasks.
If you want to put something on autopilot you need to turn that thing into your habit.
But as always, this is easier said than done.
So, get yourself in the right headspace. Clear your mind and focus on the good habits you want to embrace: fitness, organization, a larger vocabulary — whatever it is you want to accomplish.
Gloria Petruzzelli believes keeping consistent is a matter of choice. In order to reach goals, you need to welcome habits into your daily routine like they’re old friends. Know that each time you make a good decision or repeat a positive behavior you’re one step closer to achieving your ultimate goal. Here are several proven ways to develop good habits:
Start Small — even a basic routine that only takes a moment each day is a step in the good habit direction.
Know Your Intentions — don’t be vague. “I want to lose weight” is too broad. “I want to lose ten pounds” is a concrete actionable goal.
Celebrate Small Victories — a day filled with good habits is worth celebrating and great for keeping you motivated. This is especially important for solopreneurs which is a quickly rising group nowadays.
Stack Habits — Link new, positive habits to existing habits, like, “every time I brush my teeth I’ll do ten push-ups.” Piggy-backing new habits to old can help you pick up new habits quickly.
Programming The Human Machine
Now that you’ve got your head right, forget about everything you’ve learned. Well, not everything. But the key to staying consistently consistent is making positive routines and good habits automatic. You shouldn’t have to think about doing them, you just do them.
Program your brain to routinely behave a certain way, so when the temptation comes to fall off the wagon it will feel uncomfortable and out-of-character to adopt a bad habit.
Here are some tips for turning your scatterbrain into a highly efficient thinking machine.
- Picture a specific goal — There’s usually a number attached: a target weight, a dollar amount, or an accumulation of days. Visualizing your goal helps you achieve it. This is a cliché, but it works. You can find a picture that reminds you of your goal or perhaps create something yourself (with Canva or alternatives for instance) then print it out and hang it in front of your bed. This way every morning you will be reminded of your goal and this might help you to stay consistent with it.
- Write it down — Putting ideas into writing makes them real. The same goes for whatever goals you can imagine. Pick up a pen, put it on paper, and make those dreams come true!
- Be positive — “You’re a good person and people like you!” Say it! SAY IT! Speaking affirmations aloud — preferably alone, so people don’t think you’re weird — is a proven way to keep positive energy flowing toward your goals.
- Meditate — clear your head and keep focused. Don’t let negative thoughts distract you. Meditation is a great way to clear negativity and embed positive goals deep in your subconscious.
- Surround Yourself With Supporters — If you’re serious about making positive life changes, get away from negative people and influencers.
Set Specific Goals
Avoid generalities like, “I want to be a better person” and nail down specific behaviors that can lead to your goal. For example, “I’ll be more polite to my co-workers,” or “I’ll be more patient with my kids.”
But even those target behaviors are fuzzy. Focus tighter. “I will greet Pete and Dave at the office with a cheery ‘Good morning!’ every day.” “I will listen attentively when Little Joey talks about his school day.”
Also, the clock is your friend when it comes to staying consistent. Schedule behavior down to the minute if necessary. Smartphone reminders make it easy.
Apps That Help With Consistency
You’re smart…so use your smartphone to stay consistent. The key to goal-oriented success is making GROWTH goals — goals that are:
- Grand Vision
There are several apps that can help you stick to your busy schedule.
- Streaks lets you track anything from weight loss to stock portfolio growth. Streaks also syncs with existing data from the iOS Health app, so you can get your fitness tracking up and running quickly.
- GoalsOnTrack is an app that targets SMART goals and helps users manage tasks, track habits, keep a calendar, create a vision board, manage a goal journal, and view custom reports and charts.
- Strides attempts to help you build the perfect routine to be successful in life. It offers four tracker types, step-by-step goal-setting, and progress charts. Track anything you want!
- Habitica turns habit-building and productivity into a game. It offers rewards — and punishments — to keep you motivated. Habitica even comes with its own social media network.
- Lifetick is suitable for both individuals and employers, teachers and students. It uses SMART goals, habit tracking, journaling, and progress charts to keep you on the right path.
- HabitBull lets you track up to 100 habits (each with its own calendar). The app shares motivational images, quotes, and advice to keep you walking in the light.
What’s your problem? You know. For some, it’s jelly donuts. For others, it’s whiskey, or vape pens, or the overwhelming desire to sprawl on the couch and binge-watch hours of bad TV. Perhaps its human nature to be lazy, to avoid important-yet-unpleasant tasks in favor of doing potentially harmful things that make us feel good.
You know what your weaknesses are, and what kind of situations you need to avoid in order to be your best. Want to avoid falling back into bad habits? Don’t travel the old behavioral routes that used to bring you there. If an after work cocktail leads to frequent episodes of drunken blackouts, you should not only skip the cocktail, but find a route home that doesn’t even pass the bar. Avoid temptation and embrace positive behaviors.
Make Positive Behavior The New Normal
It’s all too easy to let bad habits become daily routines. The secret to consistent consistency is making positive behaviors the new normal. By normalizing positive habits you make it that much more difficult to step out of line. Bad habits will feel wrong, out-of-place. Consistency breeds consistency.
There Is No Try — Only Do or Do Not
You can’t stay consistently consistent without a certain amount of inner strength and determination. There are always a million excuses for skipping/breaking good habits
- You’re tired
- You’re sick
- You’re late
- You’re busy
- You’re stressed
- You’re sad
- You’re on vacation
So what? Do it anyway. Stick to your routine of positive behavior. There are a million excuses for falling off the wagon, but never a good one.
Like Yoda says in The Empire Strikes Back, “There is no try, only do or do not.” You should aim to “do” when it comes to establishing routines of positive behaviors.
Pssst! It’s Okay To Fail
Listen, everybody makes mistakes on occasion. Humans learn through trial-and-error. That’s how we grow. We try, we fail, and we do it again and again until we find a solution.
Consistent consistency is fueled by that same drive and determination. Nobody is perfect, and we don’t expect you to be.
Eating a hunk of birthday cake or skipping a day at the gym isn’t the end of the world. Acknowledge this is out-of-character behavior (perhaps even wickedly decadent behavior!) and get right back on track.
The Zen Of Consistency
Some may find a life of routine and regiment boring. But there is peace and tranquility in consistency. Predictable behavior and predictable results yield a satisfying sense of inner harmony.
Writer Octavia Butler said, “Habit is persistence in practice.” Persist in the face of challenges — even the seemingly insurmountable challenges of boredom and laziness — and you tap into the power of consistent consistency.
- How to Stay Consistently Consistent in Whatever You Do - April 8, 2020