I have consistently failed to write my monthly blog – which is ironic considering the first of my monthly blogs in almost 12 months is about consistency!
As someone who can find it difficult to maintain consistency in new projects, ideas or commitments, I felt compelled to write this after a fabulous conversation with a client at the end of Meditation class, about being consistently inconsistent - and why it makes many of us feel so down!
But let’s get a few things clear before we go deeper, we humans like consistency, in many different ways and different parts of life.
Mainly, we like to feel consistent within ourselves, because it helps us makes sense of other people, but it also helps others understand us. Therefor, we behave in ways that we see as consistent with out beliefs about ourselves, and our beliefs about what is morally right or wrong.
For example, My husband is a rugby fan, and consistently watches games and now coaches a youth team, and when people get to know him , they can see it’s not a faze or something new, new, because his identity as a keen rugby fan has been consistently created, and recreated through his actions, behaviours and conversations.
Whilst this is a very simple example, I hope it helps you understand how consistency helps us make sense of other people, and them us. Consistency is actually everywhere, from the clothes we wear, to every day activities or actions, from facial expressions to all sorts of different ways of communicating.
★ Don’t we all know someone who consistently runs late to meetings, therefor we plan ahead?
So with consistency more apparent in our life that we realise – why so many of us still say it’s difficult to stay consistent when it comes to our plans and our wellbeing?
But let's get clear, consistency shouldn’t be confused with intensity. Simon Sinek makes it clear in this excellent lecture (and a great video) that whilst companies often like to sell you with the idea of intensity, with a definite start and end.
"Intensity is like going to the dentist, it is fixed in time, we know exactly which date we are going, we know how long we are going to be there, and we know when we come out our teeth will feel smooth and look pearly. But if that is all we do, all our teeth will fall out. In other words, intensity is not enough.” - Simon Sinek
So, consistency becomes the ‘little bit regularly’ and not the ‘all or nothing’
When we begin to reframe consistency, we gain a much healthier (and kinder) approach to life. Whether it’s making healthy habits, Meditating, learning a language or skill or keeping your home tidier, your consistency is what makes it manageable, but also achievable.
And you probably already know that consistently is about the small steps, and yet we still feel so bad when we can’t maintain it.
So how do we begin to reframe consistency and maintain our peace of mind?
1. Know that momentum can change direction
One of the downsides of staying consistent is the pressure to continue (or believe you have to continue) when your hearts not in it. This might be because what you enjoy doing has changed, or perhaps your priorities have? Maybe you are looking for a different outcome now?
Self awareness is key in these situations, so you can recognise if something isn’t actually serving you right now, and your struggling to stay consistent with it – it’s time for change. Which doesn’t mean your no longer consistent, but simply your being mindful of when and where in your life needs adjustment.
2. Set micro goals that reflect your needs and successes.
Consistency can be hard when there is no end goal or clear pay off, so instead work towards something small that makes you feel good. The satisfaction from small achievements often becomes a motivating factor in staying consistent so definitely recognise the journey and be proud of the small things!
★ John Grisham set a micro goal to write one page a day while studying law at University, because writing a book was too much. A year later he had finished A Time To Kill.
Ultimately mini goals make us smile, and for many people it’s that little boost that keeps momentum going because simply put – It increases our happiness and boosts our mood!
3. Anticipate the dips and downs.
When setting out to be consistent, ask yourself “what will I do when I hit the slump?”
If your thinking “I’ll probably quit” then things aren’t going to work well as slumps and dips are normal!
If you can plan ahead, honour the feelings and still pick yourself up, then even when inconsistent, your consistently being mindful of your plans and needs. And that is something to be proud of.
4. Get out of your own head.
When you start telling yourself your no good at staying consistent, or there is no point anyway – get out your own way and cut the negative self talk. If you wouldn’t say it to a friend, don’t say or think it about yourself!
Whether it’s looking for a group online with the same hobby or goal, speaking to a friend or something completely different, make time to speak to others so you regain that belief in yourself again. And this leads nicely to our next point.
5. Find your tribe and find your boosters
What is your 'pick me up' plan? Because consistency is much easier when you have those who support you, whether it’s friends, colleagues, or group members, to look to.
Whether it's simply those on the same path, having others to communicate with, seek support from, or share ideas with, group support has been shown to improve your mental health, can help you stay consistent, and help you recognise when its time for change.
But also, find your booster – what lifts you up, raises your mood and gives you the boost to take action? Is it a song? Blogs? Someone you follow on social media?
I have clients who struggle with consistently keeping their home as tidy as they would like, so when they are struggling they watch some quick videos on You Tube of house clean transformations to motivate them into action!
Another client keeps a Pinterest board called ‘Gymspiration’ of what health and fitness looks like for her, and what she is aiming for.
Find your people, and find your boosters – adding these kind of things to your mindful ‘toolkit’ means you know how to get back on track when you need to.
6. Forgive yourself and move on.
If you dropped your phone on the ground, you wouldn’t stand on it 10 times to make sure it was smashed, you would pick it up, dust if off, and pop it back in your pocket. There is no reason not do this (regardless of what your staying consistent or inconsistent with).
There are no benefits in punishing yourself and not doing something, just because you think you have messed up your consistency - so start again! It doesn’t really matter how often you start over, what matters is the effort.
If on the other hand, you find you are repeatedly not starting over, and avoiding it, we need to reconsider point 1.
I hope some of these resonate with you, and help you appreciate that ok to be consistently inconsistent, because you have permission to change your mind and discover new things.
This means that consistency will also look and feel differently, at different parts of our life, because our needs change, our priorities change and what we want for our self also changes.
I say embrace the change, be kind to yourself and absolutely recognise that who you are, and what you do are enough.
Love & Light Jennifer
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