The Consistency Formula
What do you think when you see a successful person? Chances are, it’s not consistency. Most times we think about their current role, how much they make, or how great their Instagram feed is. We tend to ignore considering how they got there, leaving out 95% of the story. When we leave out the effort and determination it took to get to that point, we disrespect the 95%.
The Truth About Success
Overnight successes are very rarely, if ever, truly an overnight success. That success is the result of years, if not decades, of consistent practice to achieve something better. It’s not enough to only focus on the easy parts of work.
We have to recreate this conversation to reflect the life defining work we do behind closed doors and off social media. If we don’t, we feed into the lies that success comes easy. The success we should want comes from doing the work, day in and day out.
Olympians don’t one day decide to start running, lifting, swimming, skiing, or any other sport and assume they’ll get to the Olympics in a year. They work their way up from the basic skills to the intermediate ones, then up to the advanced level needed to compete on the world stage. It’s ignoring the voices inside their heads that they can’t do it or they’re tired or they need to stop in order to finish their routine or cross the finish line.
They have the willpower to complete their training, even while knowing that they may not podium. They put in the work every day in the hopes that it will help them beat their competitors, going so far to put the rest of their life on hold.
While I believe that integrating life and work is essential to a healthy life, we can still learn from these dedicated individuals on how consistency impacts overall success. (Whether sports, work, or personal development.)
The Consistency Formula
I’ve found that consistency comes down to three core values. Have you heard of the three-legged stool analogy? If one leg is knocked out, the stool won’t stand. Consistency is the same way. Without one of these core values, we won’t succeed.
It comes down to this:
Consistency = Support + Making the Choice + Determination
How do we begin taking each of these pieces and forging the consistency we need to focus on the long-term goals that may seem like they’ll never happen? Sure, it’d be easier to blend in, not have more work after work, and to not have the heartbreak of plans failing, but those challenges are at the core of a determined person ready to make change through consistent effort.
Let’s break it down.
You Aren’t Alone
First, let’s get something straight. You aren’t alone in this. Everyone is trying to build the willpower to stick with something, whether it’s healthy habits or writing a book. Forging consistency is about bringing your community together to support each other in their life adventure.
Everyone can relate to building consistency, making this one of the best ways to improve. Get your accountability partners, cheer each other on, and keep each other moving forward even when the path isn’t clear.
Accountability partners can be “official” in the form of a mastermind group or other meetup, or it can be more informal. Whichever you choose, make sure you’re active within it and provide the support you need to others. The Golden Rule is for more than toddlers learning to share. It’s for creatives who love what they do so much that they get caught up in the whirlwind.
Just as your people support you, make sure you’re supporting them as well. Whatever crazy ideas your community is cooking up, make sure they know who their cheerleaders are. (Well, obviously nothing illegal… Don’t say that I told you to go join your con man friend or anything.)
When we get caught up in our plans and dreams it’s simple to excitedly start sharing without leaving a space for others. Instead, commit to asking those in your group how their projects are going.
This is the important part: actually listen. I know. It’s groundbreaking. Don’t nod and smile and say, “that’s great!” Dive into their work and challenges with them to wrestle through their ideas and help them reach the next step.
As an aside: Not everyone will want to talk through an idea right away. We need to respect their space, and be ready to listen when they’re ready to share. As an internal processor, it’s a big leap for me to begin to share new ideas. They’re all comfy in my mind and I usually don’t want to release them into the great wide open.
So while fellow internal processors will agree that we aren’t always good at sharing our ideas, we also need to push ourselves to open up when our community shows up to support us.
Because showing up is most of the fight.
Just Show Up
You probably know by now how much a running nerd I am. When Desi Linden won the Boston Marathon in April, she was the first American woman to win in 33 years. I distinctly remember watching her come down the famous turn onto Boylston with no one behind her, soaking in the moment of crossing the finish line. (Also literally soaking because it rained the entire course.)
This was a race that, as anyone who has read coverage of knows, Linden wasn’t sure if she would even finish. She helped Shalane Flanagan get back to the pack after her bathroom pit stop, paced the other American females, and generally felt like she wasn’t going to finish. And she was seemingly okay with it.
But then she pushed ahead, banking on the consistency in her career and this training cycle, as well as an incredible amount of grit, and won the race.
In interviews after, she shared a very simple yet loaded phrase that she lives by: just show up.
Showing up is making the decision to do something now so you can build the future you want. It’s choosing the hard tasks and the moments of insecurity and questioning so you can create your life’s mission and a future that brings you alive.
This is very often not our first choice, but it’s essential that it becomes our first choice. It involves making the hard choices and reminding ourselves to just start. It’s not going to be perfect and it’s very likely going to take longer than expected, but you can ensure success by just. Showing. Up.
And as you should probably know by this point, when I say success, I don’t mean the world’s version of success. I mean what fires you up and makes you feel accomplished. It could be monetary or a certain title, but it can also be helping X number of people or starting a company, or any other number of choices that are just different forms of success.
Determination is where grit and perseverance meet. It’s time to stop believing that we’re born with a certain level of determination and instead begin forging it through hard work and persistence.
Needtobreath’s song “Hard Love” came on while I was preparing this episode, and it’s beautifully apropos for this topic. The chorus goes:
Hold on tight a little longer
What don't kill ya, makes ya stronger
Get back up, 'cause it's a hard love
You can't change without a fallout
It's gon' hurt, but don't you slow down
Get back up, 'cause it's a hard love
We don’t build determination by giving up. By retreating when it gets hard. By failing to push through the unknown in order for it to become known. Determination is built when we first acknowledge that what we’re doing is hard, and then focus on moving through it. We can’t ignore how challenging something is. Partly because it’s not experiencing the full journey, but mostly because we aren’t acknowledging that we’re capable of doing the hard things.
When we accept that we’re in a challenging phase of life, we can better appreciate it for the growing period it is. Delusion has no place in determination. It will be hard and it will make you question everything, but we need to embrace the challenge to grow our determination.
When your determination wavers, here’s how to take action against it.
Acknowledge that it’s hard work. What we’re doing isn’t easy, and it’s important that we don’t ignore that piece of it. Sit in your emotions, journal, and I highly encourage this last one: talk with someone. I know, I know, sometimes it’s easier to keep it all bottled in but what did we just agree on? We’re doing the hard thing. Talking gives us the opportunity to let everything out, talk with someone we trust about ways to get through it, and most importantly, helps us process the at times intense emotions this type of journey requires.
Do just one small thing. The thought of taking action can be paralyzing. There’s a list running through our minds of what we need to get done before a certain date or event, and it feels easier just to avoid it all then methodically working through the list. Choose something on said list that’s small, and get it done. This gives you the momentum to keep on to the larger tasks. Or, sometimes that one thing is all you can get done for the day. And that’s okay, too. The important thing is that you’re trying. Trying builds determination which builds consistency.
Have a “done” list. It’s time to stop living by our to-do lists. Instead, make a “done” list. Write out everything you’ve accomplished, whether it’s by day, week, project, or all of the above. When your determination wavers, look at this list. See everything you’ve done to build out your project! Your goal is at the end of the “done” list, so it’s time to start moving forward with it.
The consistency formula is more than just a set of actions. It’s the way you will go from where you are now to where you want to be. Take your support with you, make the choice to do the hard things, and build the determination to make it a habit. Whether you’re working on building a company, inventing a product, or writing a book, you have it within you. Sometimes we just need a little push.
Let’s be that push for each other. I’d love to hear what you’re working on, how it’s going, and if I could help. I’m not just saying that either. Let’s build a community that’s ready to support each other's’ goals while working on our own. Connect with me on Instagram or Twitter!