Preye Raymond is a leading content writer, who enjoys a blend of pragmatism in his self-improvement topics.
Consistent in starting, but not in finishing seems like a fool's errand. Nevertheless, it is understandable why it is herculean to stay consistent living in a world full of choices and opportunities.
Barry Schwartz in his popular book The Paradox of Choices wrote:
“When people have no choice, life is almost unbearable. As the number of available choices increases, as it has in our consumer culture, the autonomy, control, and liberation this variety brings are powerful and positive. But as the number of choices keeps growing, negative aspects of having a multitude of options begin to appear. As the number of choices grows further, the negatives escalate until we become overloaded”.
In a world full of alternatives, staying consistent with a budget, a schedule, a routine, a habit or a task becomes a force to be reckoned with.
Reality is all Flux & Tangents
Heraclitus the archaic Greek philosopher, posited that reality is in a perpetual state of flux because its underlying elements are in constant chaos with each other.
Undoubtedly, things change from time to time, and life is not expected to be linear. But when changes occur, it should be utilized to upgrade whatever you’ve already established or planned, rather than neglecting them to choose something entirely different.
Take me for instance, I started my writing career during the heat of the pandemic back in February 2020, I owned a blog called-shadebizness which talked about issues relating to affiliate marketing and the whole make money online gig.
In August of the same year, an opportunity to work for a microfinance bank presented itself, and I took the opportunity hoping that I could use it as leverage to support my blogging career, but I was wrong.
The job came with its pressure and unrealistic target that it became tough to stay consistent in posting new articles on my blog.
I stopped developing my writing habits and online marketing skills, and I suspended my writing career(which was barely 6 months).
This continued for over a year until I finally realized that I had a talent that had been neglected and kept in the dust, to work for a bank that lacked a well-equipped business system, had long hours of abrupt meetings, and lacked proper staff welfare.
If I had remained consistent with my blog, or leveraged work opportunities that had minimal pressure and flexible work hours that could accommodate my blogging, my writing career and experience would have been much better than it is currently. However, no regrets it is all part of the learning curve.
Your productivity, your values, and your reputation are hinged on your level of consistency.
Opportunities and choices that comes with change, should not distract or divert your attention away from who you are or what you are doing but should be included in the process of becoming who you are and improving on what you are already doing.
Let’s discuss some of these building blocks that can help in bolstering your level of consistency and commitment:
I) Eliminating ‘FOMO’
There are several reasons why choices and opportunities generate a fear of missing out (FOMO) within us, but I found two to be most dominant:
- Comparison: having a deep sense that others are seemingly living better lives or having better experiences with their choices, while you are stuck battling with yours.
- Herd mentality: fear of being left behind on the latest trends and opportunities happening around your environment or social setting.
The fear of missing out was one major reason why I disregarded my writing skills to pick up a job with the bank. I come from a culture that has been hardwired to think that people are only beneficial or valuable when they work as bankers, lawyers, doctors, scientists, professors, politicians, or engineers. These are career choices that are relished in most African indigenous societies.
Being a writer, footballer, artist, farmer, fashion designer, blogger or entrepreneur does not make the cut, except you are from a family of affluence and wealth.
Most people, lack consistency and make radical changes because they allow the fear of missing out to affect a larger part of their decision-making, for example; social media influencing and content creation have become a lucrative initiative since the pandemic, now almost everyone wants to be a socialite or a content creator on social media.
There is nothing wrong with becoming a socialite or online influencer, but if you are doing it for the wrong reasons or at the expense of your plans, your purpose, your goals, your projects, all because it is what is trending or what everyone else is doing, then it can end up becoming challenging for you down the line.
Sometimes we feel pressured and intimidated by making choices that are not deliberate, either because we see others making those choices and it appears to be working for them, or we discern that society takes people who do those things- seriously, so we abandon what we have already established to embark on something entirely new.
A practical way to eliminate FOMO goes back to what I said earlier about using changes in trends, opportunities, and choices to refine and diversify whatever you have already established or started.
For instance, if you are a startup business owner or an average entrepreneur and you also want to get involved with social media trends and whatnot, then establish an Instagram or Facebook page for your business, and build your online community of prospects and customers around your brand.
If you have been consistent with a budget while earning a five-figure paycheck, and now you have been promoted with a six-figure paycheck, rather than thinking that you have made it therefore budgeting may not be necessary, expand on your budget to accommodate investments and asset acquisitions.
If you love reading and engaging in educational programs, and your friends who are instafamous or Tik Tok famous teases you for being a nerd because you are not ‘socially cool’ as they are. Then create a Tik Tok or Instagram platform and create educational contents and topics that most people are ignorant about. Become an online teacher and watch your followers grow even more than your pals.
It is all about -infusing changes and trends into improving your established lifestyle, work, purpose, values, etc...and making use of opportunities that can align with those substantial facets of your life, without causing a radical change.
II) Habits Nurtures Consistency
We often trivialize our habits or take them for granted, but they play a major role in our level of consistency.
Consistency does not develop on its own, it is usually triggered by a habit.
Those who are disciplined enough to stay consistent always have a habit or pattern that develops such consistency.
A book that concretely analyzed the use of habits to stay consistent and productive is one by James Clear titled- “Atomic Habit: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones”. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend you to.
Clear described habits as;
“...the compound interest of self-improvement. The same way that money multiplies through compound interest, the effects of your habits multiply as you repeat them.”
He posited that habits are the 1% attribute that yields results and fosters consistency in our daily lives and routines.
Clear’s work on atomic habits certainly improved my consistency in writing and I’m positive that it can help you get the same result in any area of your life that requires the same discipline. You can get the book by simply clicking here
Waking up in the morning and having a cup of coffee or tea while reading your e-mails or texts is a habit that has become consistent on autopilot.
Clear explains that: developing a habit is not the action itself but the goal or result an individual is looking to achieve i.e., you make it a habit to drink coffee or tea when you wake up to feel energized and ready to start the day(the goal).
Maybe it is not a cup of coffee or tea, but an early morning run or meditation to stimulate and motivate you to start your day. Both examples are goal-oriented and they require proper habits to stay consistent.
It's a simple equation- to stay consistent in something, you have to develop a habit in something, for example:
- To lose 10 pounds daily, you have to develop the habit of eating healthy and exercising.
- To make more friends, you have to develop the habit of socializing.
Habits nurture consistency with a particular goal in mind. However, since we are talking about consistency let's focus our minds on what I term ‘habit maintenance’ which is simply- maintaining a habit to achieve consistent results.
I would elaborate more on habit maintenance as we make progress, however, let’s take some few examples to wrap our heads around the idea:
- To have a consistent V-shaped or hour-glass physique, you have to maintain the habit of exercising or going to the gym, otherwise, you will gain unwanted calories.
- To keep your A+ grade constant in your report card, you have to maintain the habit of reading, otherwise, your reputation of being an A+ student goes down the drain.
- To live a consistent life of financial stability, you have to maintain the habit of budgeting and investing, even if you are earning six to seven figures, otherwise, you would eventually become broke.
Habits are building blocks that can enhance your consistency if properly cultivated and maintained. They help you align your decisions automatically to what your objective or goals are, therefore preventing you from being distracted by multiple choices.
III) Forget Goals, Focus on Sustaining the Process & Habit
Goals are the results we expect from taking an action or cultivating a habit.
Setting goals always creates specificity, i.e., expecting a result at a particular point in time, for examples: ‘I want to have six-pack abs by the end of the month’, or ‘I want to earn six-figures this year’, they both show an intention attached to a time frame (earning six-figures this year).
When these goals are established in our minds, implementing the processes to achieve them commences, that is; to get six-packs by the end of the month you have to be consistent in hitting the gym and eating right, and to get a six-figure income you have to upgrade your marketing campaigns to expand your clientele.
However, If you are someone not used to the process of hitting the gym or the habit of eating veggies and other low-calorie meals, getting six-pack abs becomes a daunting task as you continue chasing your dream body. Likewise, if you are someone not used to the challenging processes associated with marketing, getting six figures becomes difficult as you continue chasing financial freedom.
Even when we strive to achieve a goal with all its challenges, we immediately get a sense of accomplishment that makes us feel comfortable and satisfied, which can also slow down our rate of consistency.
We are often caught up with the ‘achieving’ and not the ‘sustaining’, we barely think -’if I achieve six-pack abs this month by hitting the gym frequently, how can I sustain going to the gym throughout the year? Or if I achieve a six-figure income this year with a new marketing campaign, can I sustain such marketing campaign every year?
Sure, it is good to start with smaller goals and plan gradually, I’m a major proponent of that school of thought, but the point here is: if you don't fall in love with sustaining the process or the action involved in accomplishing goals, then it becomes difficult to stay consistent in ensuring your goals or results are not short-lived.
Earlier, I introduced the idea of habit maintenance: which makes it simple to stay consistent with achieving our goals, but that’s just scratching the surface. The idea of habit maintenance also sifts in-depth to ensure that we sustain the process required for achieving our goals continuously and tirelessly.
Habit maintenance consists of four stages:
- Developing the habit
- Maintaining the habit (till it is on autopilot)
- Creating a consistent process
- Achieving the goal
- Develop the habit of eating low-calorie meals or veggies, maintain the habit of eating low-calorie meals or veggies (habit maintenance) to stay consistent in eating healthy (process), before thinking of how many packs you want for your abs (goal).
- Develop the habit of reading books and taking online courses on marketing, maintain the habit of reading books and taking online courses on marketing (habit maintenance) to stay consistent with your marketing strategies (process) before thinking of how to expand your clientele and crush six-figures per annum (goals).
It is important to note that; it is not just enough to develop a habit, you have to maintain it as much as possible until it becomes a part of you and your process. The images below provides a clear illustration;
Always remember that the intention for setting goals is simply to win a prize, but the intention for sustaining a process is to continue winning the prize.
Sustaining a process doesn't necessarily mean it can't be improved or adjusted especially in a tangent reality filled with choices and opportunities, surely it can, it only requires your commitment to keep it progressive.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Preye Raymond