Every day I get questions from podcast listeners and one of the biggest misunderstandings that I see is people thinking that it is the changing variables in their life that prevent them from being consistent. That is why I am so excited for you to check out today’s new podcast episode 5 Factors for Success: Being Consistent When Life is Not.
The things that matter most—moving your body, eating well, keeping a budget, being a good parent—don’t rely on consistency in your schedule. So if you blow a tire, or have to pick up the kids from school (maybe kids don’t even go to school anymore!), or got up too late this morning that does not mean that you missed your shot.
Let’s be super clear on that key point: consistency in your habits, your behaviors, and being the kind of person you want to be does not hinge on your having consistency in your day. Now that we have that foundational understanding, these are the 5 factors for consistency. Listen to the episode or read on below.
Why Do you Stay in Prison?
Let me give you a quick back story. A few years ago I weighed over 350 pounds, standing at 5’5” tall. I’m not sure what size I was but I know that US size 22s were too tight so I wore my husband’s elastic-band sweatpants. I was constantly dieting—always. I thought that I had a food problem but what I had was a thinking problem. My food problem was a disguise for my thinking problem. I wanted to be a fit, vibrant, happy person, and I knew that ice cream wasn’t the way to be that person.
My thinking problem also showed up as relationship problems and a hard time making solid friendships. It also showed up as a spending problem. I was earning a decent wage, but living paycheck to paycheck and racking up a mass of debt.
I was over 350 lbs, lonely, and depressed when I found this Rumi quote.
Why do you stay in prison when the door is so wide open?
Reading those words was a shock to me. Why did I stay in prison when the door was so wide open to me? I first incorporated this wisdom in my work life. At the time, I hated my job. Constantly complaining about everything related to work, the tasks, the hours, the colleagues, I wasn’t happy but I also wasn’t willing to take a pay cut. I told myself I was stuck. But nobody forced me to apply for, accept, and work that job. Nobody was forcing me to go in early, stay late, or work on weekends. These were my choices.
Over time, I also realized how much this applied to food. I was miserable. I was obsessed with food, constantly judging everything I ate, planning how much weight I would lose by which month. But I was the one keeping myself in the prison of my misery.
I tell you this because I know what it’s like to stand, knocking at a gate that’s already open. The question is: How do you move forward?
Consistency is a big part of it but knowing what you want to do is not the same thing as being committed to the practice of consistency. Read that again.
Consistency is not a destination that you arrive at. “Whew, I’m here, I’m finally consistent”. No. Consistency is a daily practice that you have to choose again and again and again, moment by moment. So it doesn’t matter if you burnt dinner and have to figure something else out. If your meeting runs late and you have less time for a healthy lunch, that is not a barrier to long-term consistency. We can and need to be consistent regardless of how our day goes.
These are the 5 factors for consistency:
The First Factor of Consistency is Specificity 9:47
Specificity is a huge component of consistency. I’ve seen a lot of people trip up here by being vague and general about what they want to be consistent at doing. It’s almost impossible to hit a target when you don’t really know what that target is. I want to eat better. That’s not specific enough. I want to exercise regularly. Nope, still not specific enough.
Start with this question and write this down (it’s not enough to just do this in your head).
What does it mean to you to be consistent?
Whatever your answer to that question, it’s just the beginning. Be so specific that it’s automatically clear whether or not you’ve done that thing, make it a yes or no. If you say, “Well, I kind of I did that,” that’s not clear enough.
Get even more specific with the following question:
If you were as consistent as you want to be, what would that look like today?
Here are a few examples of what specificity looks like for me:
If I were as consistent as I want to be, my day starts by waking up without an alarm clock, praying before I get out of bed, stretching, and drinking a glass of water before I do anything else. Before work, I journal or meditate. I fix a healthy, filling breakfast that consists mostly of vegetables, some protein, and healthy fats, like my cabbage bowl.
If I were as consistent as I want to be, my workday would already be laid out before it begins, starting with a block of focused, uninterrupted time for writing, followed by my most difficult or pressing task. Social media and checking email comes last.
If I were as consistent as I want to be there would be a 5-mile walk and Crossfit workouts blocked out on my calendar at the beginning of the week to be executed Monday through Friday.
Once you get specific, pick the one you want to start with. I’m not asking you to nail all 72 elements of what you want today. Start with journaling, start by following the golden rules carbs and fat loss, or not hitting snooze in the morning. You don’t have to pick the perfect one. Stop letting the idea of perfection be a barrier. The one you pick is not where you stop, it’s where you start. Write down the one you will start with.
2. Innovation 16:45
After specificity, innovation is the next biggest factor for consistency where so many people go wrong. Innovation means doing things differently. If you’re not already where you want to be then today cannot look like yesterday.
A few weeks ago, I sent out a Daily Mindset Upgrade about the danger of showing up as “yesterday’s woman”. Fundamentally, I have to remind myself of this: if I want different results, I can’t keep showing up as yesterday’s woman.
If yesterday’s version of me hits snooze every morning and I want that to change, then I can’t show up today as who I was yesterday. This shift requires innovation in how you think, how you make excuses, and how you act.
If this seems at odds with consistency, it’s not. Either way, you’re being consistent, maybe you’re just consistent with hitting snooze or eating off of your kid’s plate, but if you don’t like that pattern then you have to invent and reinvent a new way to be, a new way to choose. Innovation is how you show up differently.
Lots of people who desire consistency are showing up, day after day, as yesterday’s version of themselves, same thoughts, same excuses, same choices.
3. Attitude 19:10
The third factor for consistency is your attitude. There is a huge difference between the attitude of creating change and the attitude of judging behavior. This is another area where I see a lot of people struggling. People come to me with an attitude that is negative, cynical, destructive, overwhelmed.
The attitude of creating change says “I’m going to make mistakes, that’s why I’m doing this work. I’m not here to be perfect, i’m here to get a little bit better.” Compare that to a judgemental attitude that says “I blew it. I ate too much. I cheated.”
Instead of aggressively judging behavior with words like good/bad, right/wrong, naughty, cheating. You need to have an attitude of eagerly pursuing change.
This is a mantra that I use all of the time: I have a genuine interest in and desire to change.
I’m not going to get frustrated if I dropped the ball or let myself down because that is a waste of energy. Spending my energy on evaluation of problems, instead of using my energy to embrace the reason I’m here, is a waste. I’m here to create an improvement right now.
This is so different than whining, complaining, or feeling defeated. You’re here to change.
One of my favorite lines from Chasing Cupcakes is I choose to be a creative, energetic problem-solver, not a negative, disappointed, problem dweller. And this all comes down to being in charge of your attitude.
4. Slower Thinking 20:55
The fourth factor for consistency is becoming a slower thinker. Very regularly, I see clients fall into traps they’ve set for themselves because they are sprinting to decisions.
Whether it’s hitting snooze in the morning, snacking through the evening or firing back a response to a text message, thinking happens very fast.
I notice a lot of my clients have this issue after dinner time. They tell me, “It happens automatically, I want a little something to eat, the food goes into my mouth before I even think about it”. But that’s not the full story.
That behavior occurs because you just sprinted to the decision. Slow down. Give your choices some space. Give yourself 5 minutes.
One of the tools I use a lot for consistency is refraining from making a decision while I’m in a negative state of mind. If I’m feeling overwhelmed, stressed, sad, I’m not going to make a decision at that moment. I will take a short walk, read an uplifting book, listen to an upbeat song, and seek out a brighter frame of mind in which to make a decision.
Stop sprinting to decisions when you feel the desire or inclination.
5. Consistency Comes When You Are Fresh in Every Moment 22:03
An absolute requirement for long-term consistency is to develop the ethos that you are fresh in any and every moment.
You are not limited by the way things have been. I don’t care if you’ve been an emotional eater for the last 30 years. Me too! Your past doesn’t limit you; your fixation on it limits you, but you are fresh in every single moment. This is one of the drama-free perspectives that really serves you.
I saw this James Clear quote recently,
Beginner = ignorant simplicity
Intermediate = functional complexity
Advanced = profound simplicity
As a beginner we operate with ignorant simplicity, that can look like all-or-nothing thinking, “I blew it” or “I nailed it”. Beginners dramatically oversimplify in a way that harms us.
As an intermediate, we have a functional complexity, with all of the bells and whistles. This might look like having a rigid plan, intermittent fasting for so many hours, or ongoing debates over which is better, butter or ghee. Here, we’ve moved beyond all-or-nothing thinking but we are making it more complex than it needs to be.
Where I want to help you get to, and where I look to make decisions from, is the advanced level of profound simplicity. For me, this means that every day I’m looking to do a little bit better. Profound but simple: what does it look like today to show up and be consistent? What is one area of my life where I can show up and be consistent?
Don’t need a new plan, you need a new perspective that is free from drama, not fixated on the past and patterns that held you back before. You are fresh in this moment.
This is why I have a coach, for accountability and support. You would never hear Michael Jordan or Serena Williams say, “Why is it that I haven’t gotten to these heights on my own? I’m so ashamed that I need a coach”. No. They are where they are because they have a coach.
It’s not a liability to have a coach, that’s a success hack, a tool. You can totally do it on your own, yes, but does that mean you should?
I am where I am in business because of coaches, who helped me accelerate my progress, avoid costly mistakes, direct my trajectory instead of bumbling around blindly. If I could go back in time and do one thing differently, I would have gotten a coach way sooner. Instead of spending the money on diets or junk on Amazon, I would have invested the money in me way sooner. Maybe I would’ve gotten here eventually but it could’ve taken much, much longer, or I could have encountered deadly mistakes for my business. There’s a difference between knowing and growing and a coach can help bridge that gap.
If you are worried about investing in yourself, what needs to happen so you follow through? If you feel like you’re drifting, we will work through that with you! Registration is now open for the fall session of the 12 Weeks to Transformation and kick-off is September 27th. Some of you have been thinking about the 12 Weeks to Transformation, and the time hasn’t seemed right or the money hasn’t seemed right, and I need to tell you that this fall session is going to be the final 12 Weeks to Transformation, ever.
We can put the struggle behind us once and for all!
To learn more about the 12 Weeks to Transformation visit primalpotential.com/transform.