Whether you are studying for an exam, fighting for that promotion at work or simply want to become a fitter version of yourself – consistency is key, making it an essential skill for you to master. The consistency formula is something I’ve refined and perfected throughout the years with the intent of making both of our lives that much easier.
Consistency is a habit and therefore should be treated like one. If you want to consistently study for your finals, consistently go to the gym and consistently prep your meals – achieving this many goals all at once will leave you cognitively and physically depleted.
All this to say that in order for you to consistently perform a desired behavior, you must master one before moving on to the next. For example, I want to go swimming 5 times a week and eat healthier. When I tired to be consistent with both – I failed at both. Right now, I’m doing a 60 day challenge just focusing on swimming. When I automate that behavior, I will switch to refining my diet. So far, so good!
2. Conscious Automation
When striving for consistency, it’s important to accept the fact that you’re going to have to focus on it. As the famous quote goes
“Whatever you focus on, grows, what you think about expands and what you dwell upon determines your destiny.”
The second ingredient in the consistency formula is a mindset shift. Consistency requires effort and attention on order to work. The luxury of automating a behavior is a result of discipline, dedication and focus on what you are trying to achieve. Tracking your progress by doing a 30/60 day challenge can help keep consistency top of mind.
3. Process Optimization
Consistency, in my experience, is all about flow. You are much more likely to repeatedly do a certain behavior if blends in nicely with your daily activities. Hence why routines are so popular, because they help us be consistent! They become small rituals we practice over and over again until they become second nature to us. As stated in the previous point however, you need to put in the work and refine this process before it can become automatic. A practical exercise you can do is to map out your day on a piece of paper. Try to be as detailed as possible, focusing on flow and on the environment you find yourself in. Here’s an example:
At 8:05am I turn off my alarm clock, pass by my work desk and go to the washroom to brush my teeth whiles looking in the mirror.
Now let’s say you want to be more consistent with your skincare routine, review your process flow and see where you can integrate a reminder to apply your face moisturizer with minimal disturbance to your already existing behavioral pattern. If the cream is out of reach or if you have to go into another room to get it – you are less likely to want to make that extra effort because it will feel out of the way.
Instead, you can put the moisturizer next to your alarm clock so when you turn it off, you can grab the bottle on the way to the washroom. Or put it on your work desk because you already pass by it.
4. Environmental Catalysts
Once you found the perfect spot to insert a desired behavior without interrupting your flow, take it one step further by inserting cues in your environment that will help promote consistency. Going to the gym after work? Pack your workout bag the night before and leave it next to the door so you can easily pick it up on your way out the next day. Want to eat healthier and save some money? Surround yourself with healthy snack options at home, in your car and at the office. Remember that consistency requires your conscious attention and effort to actually work.
5. Overriding Thoughts
The top consistency killer is the “I don’t feel like it” excuse. Now you might have to read this next statement more than once for it to sink in: Don’t listen to your thoughts! To keep up with your good intentions, you must learn to flat out ignore or override your intrusive thoughts. Just because you’re thinking it – doesn’t mean it’s right nor that you have to obey your every word. You can separate your emotions from your behavior. Sounds more complicated than it is, I know. But once you do it a few times, you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly. I like to call this my Bill Burr method: whenever my mind starts the whole not feeling like it spiel, I get put my body to work on the exact thing I’m avoiding to do and tell myself “looks like I’m doing it”!!!