Sometimes the only consistency in people’s lives is the consistency to be inconsistent!
Many years ago I worked with a bloke who was always banging on about how motivated and hardworking he was. He always has plenty to say about how much he had to do, how much he had done, how he never stopped and that no one around him could understand how he got so much done, and how he was surprised he hadn’t bagged a promotion yet.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that this was the most hard working and productive man in all the world, and that the whole business would crumble without him. Trouble was, his actions and thoughts did not match up with what was coming out of his mouth. And therefore neither did his results. On the surface of things he was always rushing around, huffing and puffing, shuffling papers, and flitting from workstation to workstation to let everyone know how busy he was.
When you looked deeper it was clear that aside from a lot of talk, he wasn’t really getting anything done. He procrastinated a lot, spent a lot of time in the office kitchen making coffee, and was constantly trying to engage others in conversation while they were working. Because of this inconsistency between his words, thoughts, and actions, he was always the one who ended up having to work weekends and late into the night in order to meet his targets and deadlines.
If he had actually backed up all those claims about working so hard, by applying the same mindset and following through with the actions, he would have been as successful and productive as he claimed to want to be, and in the same time frame as everyone else who worked there.
In order to be consistent our inner beliefs and attitudes have to be supported – both by each other, and by external evidence. It’s no good talking the talk if you’re not going to walk to walk, as they say, and when we make sure that our thoughts, words and actions are aligned, wonderful things can happen. Applying the principles of consistency won’t just benefit you at work; any area of your life that you want to improve will profit from consistent actions, which, when coupled with time, will give you real results, in whatever area you want to achieve them.
As with most things that will make us successful, this all needs to start with your mindset. It is no good having a negative mindset and then expecting to believe in the positive things that come out of your mouth, or expecting good results. It’s ok having positive thoughts and we have to have positive action to go with them. Think of it like this; positive thoughts are the vehicle and positive action is the fuel!
So what changes can we make to ensure that our thoughts, words, and actions all marry up, and how can we implement them in our daily lives?
- Start A Morning Ritual – Consistency starts with simply repeating the same thought or action over and over again, until it becomes habit, and it is human nature to want to be consistent with what we have done before. This is why a good start to the day often means your whole day will be good, and vice versa; ‘one of those days’. Maybe as soon as you get out of bed and put your feet on the floor, you say to yourself “Make The Most Of Every Day!” Plan a limited list of what you want to include in your morning ritual or routine, this will stop you from waking up and pressing snooze, or procrastinating when you could be being productive. Your ritual doesn’t have to be long or complicated, it just has to be consistent. It could involve things as simple as having your clothes laid out ready the night before, lunch packed, a healthy breakfast waiting for you etc. consistently having a stress-free morning with a ritual will foster a positive mindset to start the day.
- Don’t Feel Like It? Do It Anyway! – Let’s say for example that part of your morning ritual is going for a ten minute run. The first couple of days you did and you felt great! On day 3 it’s raining. On day 4 you’re not really feeling it. By day 5 – well you’ve already missed 2 days, so why bother? It can take 21 days to form a habit, but only a couple to break one, and being consistent in all areas of life is going to involve sometimes having to do something that you might feel that you don’t want to. Re-train that brain and change that mindset! Goals and success will not be achieved if we allow negative thoughts to control us. Do It Now!
- Don’t Damage Yourself – If you stop doing the things that make you feel good about yourself – such as that morning run I mentioned, or sticking to deadlines, or that diet, or being kind to others, you are only hurting yourself. Once we do things that make us feel lazy, guilty, mean-spirited, we feel bad about ourselves, and we can’t get away from it. There is no escaping yourself – that is who you are stuck with. This should be a powerful motivator to be consistent with your thoughts and behaviour.
- Focus On The Process, Not The Results – This can apply to any task you undertake in life: business, relationships, working out. You should already know what your goal is, focus on the small daily actions to take you towards that goal and then measure at the end of each day to see if you have moved towards the goal or away from it? Don’t take responsibility for your results in the gym or that promotion you want; instead take responsibility for the processes leading up to that; focus on showing up and doing your workout, focus on being productive at work, and those long term goals will be achieved through that CONSISTENT action.
- Let Go Of Who You Used To Be – Often we let our old self image hold us back from who and what we want to become. Always seeing yourself as the procrastinator or dreamer, the one who just coasts by in life, or the unfit, unhealthy one, will stop you from evolving and growing into who you want to become. We are programmed at an early age to believe we are one thing or another, it’s not necessarily the truth. You can be the person that you want to be, if you believe that you can! It all starts with a change of mindset. Start to think of yourself as a healthy person, a go-getter, someone who faces challenges head on and gets things done! Once you are consistently thinking these positive thoughts about yourself, that is who you will become. It will become easy to talk about yourself as this ‘new’ person, and to act accordingly. Read Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz
- Remind Yourself – A useful tip to make sure that you are being consistent with your thoughts and actions throughout the day is to constantly remind yourself of what it is you want to achieve through this consistent behaviour – a healthier body, a 6 figure salary, that big promotion. If you say you are going to do something then do it! “Say What You Do, Do What You Say!” Simply write it down and incorporate it into your daily environment – a post-it note on the bathroom mirror or the fridge, as a screensaver on your computer, something you will look at daily and be reminded of what you’re working towards.
Fostering change and success in your life can only truly be achieved by the changes that YOU make, and these all start in the mind. Maybe now is the time to be consistently consistent with some changes, and amazing things will happen.