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How to be Consistent and Achieve Your Goals
Change is hard.
How hard? Very, almost to the point of feeling impossible. You know this, as do I and looking back over the weeks and years, time is littered with the changes we’ve tried to make, but failed to maintain in the long term.
Ok, some changes we’ve managed. We’ve stuck with what’s needed to be done, even if it’s taken us a long, long time, but we did it. In those successes, we can find the nuggets of why sometimes it’s possible to make the change. They are nuggets of gold.
The problem it seems has a lot to do with how to be consistent. Change requires that we adopt new behaviours and apply them consistently to our lives. We then repeat the new actions until they become habit and eventually replace the old unwanted behaviours. This, we know, is hard.
Aldous Huxley makes a good point:
Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are dead.
Extreme, but true.
But as Jim Rohn said:
Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day
So how can we work towards at least a modicum of consistency and overcome our resistance to change?
There are a number of practical steps you can take advantage of to help yourself become more consistent in your new behaviours and thereby measurably increase your chances of success. Below I’ve provided three tips along with a number of examples of how to be consistent in your approach to doing the actions which will enable you to achieve your goals.
Remembering to do the thing!
When we’ve been following one routine for a very long time, it’s easy to just keep doing it, even when you know you don’t actually want to! This can be for the simplest reason: you forget to do your new behaviour instead, or, by the time you remember your new behaviour, you’ve already followed your old routine.
To overcome this, you need reminders, and lots of them! Here are a few examples:
- Your goal is to read more and watch TV less: reminder – prop your planned book up against the TV screen before you leave the house in the morning. When you settle down in the evening, not only is your book there, it also acts as an obvious reminder.
- Use lists: this may seem obvious, but I’m talking about using multiple lists for the same activity. For example, to remember to do all my planned activities for my business this month I have the same list in multiple places:
• On a Cork Board on the wall above my PC (yes, that’s my board in the picture 🙂 !);
• Written it in my Bullet Journal;
• I’ve taken a photo so that it’s captured on my phone;
• I’ve put a few Post-it Pop-up Notes in places where I’ll see them;
• I’ve also uploaded the photo and saved it as my screensaver for the month!
It’s hard to miss my list now!
These are the products that help me remember!
Related post: 5 Easy Tips to Stay on Track
So I’ve got my reminders in place so I know what I really want to be doing, but what about…
Getting past ‘I can’t be bothered’ and its close cousin, ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’
Ugh! This is hard, even when you’ve got your reminders in place. I find one of the best strategies is to treat resistance like a game. To that end, I’ll use timers, treats, speed, ‘randomising’ and sometimes even embarrassment! Here’s how it looks.
• Timers – I’ll set a timer (Kitchen Timer, on my phone or just against the clock on the wall) and aim to beat the time I’ve given myself to complete the task;
• Treats – I’ll allow myself a treat for completing the task, or, withhold the treat if I fail to get it done!
• Speed – similar to the timer, but with an added element of ‘risk’ insomuch as I won’t give myself ‘enough’ time! Hint, often you just need to get started…
• Randomising – I write out and number a short list of tasks, which will include my goal tasks and let my random number generator app select the order in which I do the tasks. The element of ‘surprise’ helps to get them done!
• Embarrassment – otherwise known as accountability. I’ll text or email a friend and ask them to check in with me a bit later to make sure I’ve done the task!
Related post: Getting Out of Your Own Way
Make it hard for yourself
That’s right, make it hard for yourself to do the thing you usually do and thereby make your new behaviour an easier choice.
• Get the children to hide the TV remote control.
• If you like to climb into your comfy clothes as soon as you get home from work, tie them in knots before you leave in the morning and lay out your gym or running clothes neatly right next to them.
• Remove any distracting apps and games from your phone or other devices, so that it’s a bit of a pain to wait for them to load back up.
• Only buy the foods you want to eat as part of your new regime so that you would have to physically leave the house to get anything else (obvious, but simple).
What else could you do to make your goal actions more appealing and your usual habitual behaviour more difficult?
I hope these three tips along with the examples have shown you how to be consistent and that they will help you overcome resistance to achieving your goals. There is no rule for how to be consistent, it is very much a trial and error exercise to find what works for you. Additionally, you may find that what works one day may not work the next. We are indeed strange creatures!
If you have any other tips of examples of how to be consisten or, indeed, how to overcome resistance, please share in the comments below. I’m always open to some new ideas!
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