Consistency

1, 2, 3, ah shucks! I give up.

Does that sound familiar to you? Ever got really motivated to do something, only to abandon it after a few tries? Well I have good news! You’re not alone.

So should you celebrate? After all, there’s comfort in numbers they say.

NO!

Why you may ask. Well it’s because that’s what leads to mediocrity (a big word for living a not-so-awesome-life). Let’s investigate further.

To illustrate this, we are going to create a fictional character, my favourite – Bhorongi Bharangizha (BB).

Let’s say this character, BB is a student at Some School in Sometown. He, like any other teenager, loves watching TV. One day, he watches a show about the great Nikola Tesla (that guy was awesome BTW), and gets inspired to become a physicist. He starts paying attention in his physics lessons and starts to read and study the subject like a madman. Physics is generally challenging, and as a result, he sees that his grades aren’t improving. He puts in more effort, and instead, his results get even worse than they were when he just played the copy-paste game that most students do. He gives up.

He gets interested in music – forces his mum to buy a piano (somebody please buy me one!) and starts to learn how to play it. A few weeks in, he gives up. “Music isn’t for me!” he says.

A friend tells him about programming. He immediately demands his dad to get him the latest computer. He starts to learn a programming language – C# (because its awesome : ) …and you guessed it. He abandons it a few weeks later.

Many years later, BB ends up miserable. He has no stable job because he would easily lose interest and start to underperform – and this became a habit. He finds himself with no real achievement and feels that he’s wasted a lot of years.

I’m no prophet, but I can say with 100% confidence that this is somebody’s life story. It’s amazing how much damage a habit like inconsistency can do to your life.

So where’s this all coming from?

Well, I was thinking about the quote by Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”  I then remembered how I used to think it was rubbish. I thought it was another quote that was cliché. I then thought about how I eventually changed my mindset to believe that there is power in everyday things. It’s amazing how consistently doing a trivial task like brushing your teeth can completely change everything in every aspect of one’s life – health, wealth (imagine how the interviewer would feel with you having stinky breath in your first job, or your customers), relationships. There really is power in changing those everyday things. And there really is power in spreading your bed everyday.

Ok! I’ve heard you! What should I do?

Good question. There are so many things to do.

  • Have a look at your daily routine. Ask yourself “If I was going to die tomorrow, what would I do today?” I learnt this technique and thought it was rather ridiculous at first, but quickly realized that it actually works. I learnt that when time is limited, we quickly learn what’s important to us and what isn’t.

  • I thought of this one from a podcast I’m listening to – the Africa 1K challenge. The presenter says think of what happens before you succeed, and when you fail. Write all that down. Learn from that. I found that exercise to be of immense value because I realized that most of the time I fail, I don’t spread my bed.

This may sound rather silly, but it reflects that my daily routine would have been disrupted. This also implies that there will be disorder in my physical space. Disorder in my physical space also implies that there will be chaos in my mind…You see where this is going right?

The exercise allows you to get to the root of the problem. You may end up realizing that everything that happens just before you fail is a symptom of you listening to negative words from somebody in your circle of influence. Maybe it is your best friend who is murdering your consistency in some area of your life!

  • Start a simple task to teach you consistency. Spread your bed everyday. Start everyday with a few seconds of silence. In my case, I read a page from the book 365 days with self-discipline everyday. Of course I do slip up here and there, but I’ve seen that it does work. I managed to create a 14 part nanobook series (and spent 6 hours on each nano book. That stuff is hard!). I finished it. This is a result of the self-discipline that was instilled in me by that book.

But it’s boring!

Things that matter the most are usually the seemingly boring and relatively difficult tasks. It is very easy to read mindless WhatsApp chats for the whole day, but incredibly difficult to read just a paragraph of text each day. That’s just how it is.

If you want your life to be different from everyone else’s then do what they aren’t willing to do.

I’ve heard you! So what area of my life should I be consistent in?

This is a great question. It is very easy to become an expert at doing trivial things. It is also easy to become an expert at doing things that are completely unrelated to your vision, mission and goals.

First identify what your life vision, mission and goals are. Feel like this is stupid? I thought so too. Until I realized that it actually works. During the process of defining your vision, mission and goals, you will get to realize how crazy some of your goals are, how unnecessary some of your objectives are, and how uninspiring your vision is. It is an iterative process. It’s not something that you do just once and throw away.

I think that’s enough for today. So tell me…which area of your life lacks consistency? 

Note: This is an article from my personal website, www.maputionline.com where I run under the pseudonym "maputiatota" Feel free to head over to that site for more blogposts!