One of the targets of personal developments is learning to be an effective human being, and that effectiveness will be evident on how good we are on achieving our goals. As students of effectiveness and growth, achieving goals is at the heart of everything we do, because it helps measure our progress and that is key on this journey.
The first thing one learns on personal development is how to set goals and steps one can take to set goals. Some things we already know, like taking a pen and paper and writing down our thoughts, reasons, targets, and plans to achieve the goal. This we already knew before we embarked on this journey. This means everyone can set goals, but how many can say they have achieved their goals? Why is it easier to set goals, but harder to achieve them? What could we be doing wrong?
It is not about setting goals, rather how to achieve those goals. Many people are set to write new year’s resolutions, but how many can say they achieve everything they planned to achieve that year?
Achieving goals need not only writing them down on a journal somewhere. We also need to work on discipline, consistency, focus and dedication. In this article, we are to talk about consistency and how to cultivate strong consistency in achieving our goals. We will also look into some things we do every day that may destroy our consistency and how to deal with that mindset.
Consistency can be destroyed by the following mindsets:
The instant gratification mindset
All or nothing
Lack of Willpower
Not keeping the flame burning
Have you ever found yourself hard-pressed because you did not get to see results of what you were working on, and feel you should be seeing something, given the effort you have put it? We are quick to judge ourselves as having failed on achieving a goal, because we did not get to see results instantly.
This can really destroy our confidence and worse yet, the consistency needed to keep pushing, even if we suffer minor defeat or setback. Some people set fitness goals and they target going to workout x number of times a week. At the start, they are all fired up, and keep up with their commitment and target. However, at times the mind can play tricks, and they miss a day or two. Because of this, they beat themselves up, and that coupled with them not seeing results instantly, bruises their confidence, thus the consistency they had suffers, and once that has happened, the hope of achieving the goal diminishes. We should keep in mind that as much as we set goals and targets, the world does not necessarily conform to our targets, and we may come across some minor or major setbacks there-and-there. What matters is not the fact we met setbacks, that’s life, what matters is that we stay afloat despite the setback, and consistently work on our goals.
We must be aware of such mindset and know that consistency is very key to us achieving goals. Without it, there is absolutely no point to even setting goals.
As an inventor, Thomas Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, "How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?", Edison replied, "I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps."
It is how we view failure that differentiates quitters from winners. Some people quit at first attempt, but who said what you working on will work after taking a single step? What if you need to take 2 steps, 3, 50, 100? Are you determined enough to wait that long and persevere for that long? With determination come will, with will come burning desire, with burning desire come great passion, and with passion come obsession, and that is the key to making it to the 100th step, or 200th step, or 1000th step. Also, with great faith comes great will.
If ones set out to achieve the goal of running x kilometers per day, but wakes up to bad weather, as much as they want to, they cannot change the weather. Instead of dwelling on this temporary setback, they can work on their mindset, and know that tomorrow is still another day. Do not dwell on the things you cannot change, rather focus on things you can change, such as focusing on the goal, and know even if it takes you longer to get to your goal, you will consistently work on it until you achieve it. That is the winning formula.
Some people set very high expectations of themselves, the optimism can go a long way, that much can be said, but we cannot set ourselves to fail by expecting not to fumble one or two times. Some people believe after setting a goal, they must achieve it without any setback, meaning its all-or-nothing. This is unrealistic and a person with such mentality is setting themselves up for failure. In a perfect world, yes, that can be said, but not in this world. We are imperfect and are bound to make mistakes there and there. What matters is not our mistakes, rather what matters is that we stand up, and keep working at it. This is what we must do.
Some people are perfectionists, and that can be commendable, however, this should not stand in the way of us consistently working on our goal. Remember that consistency and perfection are not the same things. Nobody is perfect. Be forgiving of yourself; however, do not make a habit of letting things fall through the cracks. We can meet setbacks there and there, but we should not lose focus and pull back, rather learn from the setback by reflecting on it. That is why we need to constantly review and reflect our progress in achieving our goals. This helps us get an understanding of how things work and form a realistic approach to things and know what not to do next time. We can even uproot habits or traits that prevent us from getting closer to our goal. That is how we should view setbacks, and temporary defeat.
We should also focus on things we can change and pay less attention to things we cannot change. Spending time on things we cannot change is exercise in futility, and it will yield no results at the end of the day.
The key point is, we need to consistently work on our game plan, no matter what comes our way. The previously mentioned example from Thomas Edison is perfect for letting go of this All-or-Nothing mindset and focus on the getting to the goal.
Sometimes we make commitments. Commitments are more like sworn statements that we will do something after x time. Commitments must be in line of our main goal. This is because when it comes to our main goal, we have a strong conviction in achieving that goal. This means whatever we set short-term must be aligned with the main goal.
If the commitment is not linked to the goal at hand, it is easy to just put it aside. That is why we need to ask ourselves a couple of questions before we set commitments, so that we can find reason to consistently be at it.
We can ask ourselves questions like:
Are they casual or are they intentional?
Do you put thought behind the commitments and why they matter?
Do you consider what result you’re seeking and what the outcome will be once you achieve your commitment?
Or do you casually commit to what you think you should be committing to?
The more intentional you are, the more likely you are to follow through and continue to consistently build momentum in the direction of your goals. By being intentional, this means we have reason to follow through on this commitment and that gives us strong resolve to do so. We thought about it and have put necessary thinking into it. We must be deliberate in our commitments, so that it becomes easier for us to follow through. The more aligned to the main goal is our commitment, the more likely we are to follow through, so ask yourself, “Is this commitment adding or removing from my main goal?”. In answering this question, it sets things clear.
Willpower means control exerted to do something or restrain impulses. The ability to delay gratification, resisting short-term temptations to meet long-term goals. The capacity to override an unwanted thought, feeling, or impulse.
Cultivating strong Willpower takes effort from our part. For example, one who sets to eat healthy, this means removing all tempting unhealthy foods at their ease grasp and make it too much of an effort to get ahold of such unwanted foods. This means taking necessary steps on their part to make sure they do get tempted in the first place. This is dealing with temptation, and in so doing, they increase their willpower to overcome eating unhealthily. For us to successfully and consistently be working our goal, we need to remove obstacles, or temptations or anything that is not aligned with our goal. In so doing, we build strong willpower, thus consistency will fall into place.
Building willpower to do something takes time, and consistent efforts. With willpower, comes consistency to be on track, despite what may transpire, or how we feel. You cannot expect to me consistently at gym or sticking to a diet the first few days of setting for fitness, without first cultivating strong willpower. By building strong willpower, we condition ourselves to be on track, despite how we feel or think. This goes together with self-discipline. First, we build strong self-discipline, then we couple that with strong willpower, we are on the road to consistently being at it.
When we set goals, we are filled with a burning desire to achieve that goal, and we all fired up and filled with all excitement. But we need to keep in mind that as any physical fire needs fuel to keep on burning, so is that burning desire within us, it needs to be constantly fueled with reason, and reminders why we on this track to achieve this goal in the first place.
If one sets to start a new business, they can consistently be on track by surrounding themselves with likeminded individuals, read books aligned with their goal, listen to podcasts on the matter, consistently review the reason why they embarked on this journey.
If one sets to lead a healthy lifestyle, they should follow people who are all about health and fitness, that will get them going. Read books on the matter, watch programs on the matter, just full on surround themselves with material supporting them. This will give them courage and keep them motivated to keep at it.
We need to keep the flame burning bright, and the things mentioned will serve as the fuel needed to keep it from extinguishing. We need to be careful the flame does not get extinguished by factors like laziness, lack of willpower and other external factors like the economy, weather, and other things we cannot control, as getting the flame to burn again will take more effort, willpower and will not be easy. Rather keep it going until we reach other destination. For example, take someone who was consistently working out and due to some reasons, they let go of themselves. It will take more effort to get back to gym, than if they kept the momentum going until they have reached their goal. Fitness goals need one to be fully consistent, they must keep the momentum going, and never let anything retract them from their path.
The main point here is, we need to keep the momentum we started with going, or better constantly increase it, so that we keep on working on our goals, despite what may come our way. This is a secret to consistency. We must consistently remind ourselves of the reason why we started in the first place and how the end goal looks like. Sometimes even picture the end goal in your mind. This can be done through meditations and when we have one-on-one with ourselves. Therefore, meditation and constantly reflecting is important, because we keep in mind what is more important to us, we reflect on our philosophies, principles, values, and goals we live by, this helps us to stay on track and consistently work on achieving our goals.
May we take these sayings to heart and see how we can apply them in our lives to better master consistency, as it is one of the cornerstones towards achieving our goals. In the next articles, we will look at how to build dedication towards achieving our goals.