186, 45, and 17,200.
In 2021 alone, that’s how many articles I’ve written, books I’ve read, and kettlebell rows I’ve completed. I’ve gotten a full night’s sleep 176 times and since March I’ve done 105 24-hour fasts. And I still have a month and a half until the year concludes.
All that to say, I’m no stranger to consistency.
That said, if you’re reading this, consistency may be something you struggle with. It’s a pretty common affliction.
The first few weeks of any endeavor are easy, but past that point, it’s considerably more difficult to continue on. Here are seven habits I employ to be highly consistent. If showing up is something you struggle with, I suggest giving them a try.
1. A Thoughtful Start
I have a goal to go to the beach twice a month. I was very particular about how I set it. First, I made sure it was within my control. I didn’t say that I needed to find a sand crab twice a month. Nor did I say that I needed to meet up with friends at the beach twice a month. The goal I chose to set was entirely within my control.
Second, I wrote down why I wanted to set that goal. I also created a section to keep track of my progress.
In short, I was intentional about my goal from the start. I didn’t mention it to myself in passing. I was serious about it and took it seriously from day one.
To be highly consistent, write down what you will do.
2. Make Room
As you might have noticed, the best way that I’ve found to be consistent is by setting it as a goal first. These kinds of goals are called habit goals; they start as goals until they become so ingrained in your life that they are habit.
I recommend you do something similar.
There’s more to consistency than just writing it down though. Once my goal is set, I plan for it. I make room for it in my schedule. I know exactly when I’ll do it.
To be highly consistent, plan out when you will do the work.
3. Hold Yourself to It
I have a Google doc where I keep track of all my goals. I aptly call it my Goal Tracker. Each evening, I go into the doc and update my progress for each goal. This helps hold myself accountable. It also helps to remind myself of what needs to be worked on.
You can do this too. Keep a pad of paper nearby. Each time you complete your work, write an X. With time, your X-count will grow larger and larger.
To be highly consistent, keep track of your daily efforts.
4. Skip a Day
I like to stay up late. If I forced myself to get eight hours of sleep every single night, I wouldn’t do it. I’d quit.
So knowing that, I set breaks within my sleep goal. For example, I only need to do it four nights a week. The other three nights, I can stay up late if I’d like. Or I could go to bed early. It doesn’t matter. So long as I clock four nights each week, it’s a victory.
When most people start being consistent, they go seven days a week. If it involves exercise, it may even involve working out twice a day. That doesn’t work for me though. It probably doesn’t for you either. Instead, start with a few days a week and go from there.
It’s better to end the week excited for Monday to roll around than to be exhausted on Sunday with the dread of having to do it all again.
To be highly consistent, don’t make yourself do it every day.
5. Give Yourself Outs
I like to travel. If that means taking off a few days during the week, I’m all for it. Sure, I won’t be able to publish as much, but that’s ok. I don’t beat myself up. Rather, I have built-in outs. Outs, in this case, refers to guilt-free passes.
Logistically, all I do is make a note on my goal tracker: took time off this week for fun (a holiday, event, spontaneity, etc.).
In the moment, I am able to enjoy myself. In reflection, I am able to see why I didn’t publish as much that week. And in the future, I can continue writing like nothing happened.
To be highly consistent, give yourself guilt-free reasons to not do it.
6. Remove Friction
My kettlebell is right next to my running shoes. When I get back from a run, it’s right there, waiting for me to pick it up. I’ve removed the friction between doing kettlebell rows and not doing them.
When I first started getting into reading, I always made sure to keep a book by the couch. That way I could easily reach over and grab it. I removed the friction between reading and not. It’s a simple concept and even simpler to implement. Remove the obstacles that stand between you and the work.
To be highly consistent, remove any friction that prevents you from doing it.
7. One Day at a Time
I don’t look at the long-term. Or, at least I try not to. Rather, I focus on the day-to-day. As in, today I will write my article. Today I will do my gratitude practice. Or, today I will be mindful with my eating.
If in January I planned to write 186 articles by November, I doubt I’d have done it. The figure would have been too overwhelming. Same thing goes for the rest of my goals. By focusing on today, I can concentrate on the work in front of me. And as long as I do that, the results will pile up.
To be highly consistent, take it one day at a time.
Most people struggle with follow-through. With any endeavor, the first few weeks are easy. After that, it’s considerably harder to continue. If showing up is something you struggle with, give my suggestions a try. For your reference once more, they are:
- Write down what you will do.
- Plan out when you will do the work.
- Keep track of your daily efforts.
- Don’t make yourself do it every day.
- Give yourself guilt-free reasons to not do it.
- Remove any friction that prevents you from doing it.
- Take it one day at a time.