Since January, I’ve published 72 articles to my blog. That’s nearly one a day, five days a week, for almost five months. And I have no intention of stopping. Writing is one of my current goals. Specifically, it’s to: publish one new post per day, five days a week with a word count of at least 500, but no more than 2,500. It didn’t seem like much at first, my writing goal, but the days added up and now here we are. At 72 going on 73.
Among other things, I’ve learned that consistency gives me room to be terrible sometimes.
For example, I recently published an article on food and its role in productivity. Honestly, it’s pretty weak. I talk about things everybody already knows and I don’t bring much of anything new to the discussion. And I was even aware of that fact while I was writing it. But, I persisted. I published the article and achieved my goal for the day.
I didn’t throw it away or begin again. Instead, I finished what I started. Because ultimately I knew that it was just one article in a sea of other articles. It was a drop in my literary bucket. And that was freeing. I had room to be mediocre. This wasn’t my one article for the week or month or year. It was my one for the day and there are a lot of days ahead of me. Consistency, knowing that I’d be back at my desk the next day writing once more, took the pressure off.
Three Benefits of Consistency
When you develop consistency, you will find that some days are better than others. Some days you will have full energy and be brimming with ideas and other days you won’t. What matters is that you do it anyways. Because if you only run when you are in the mood, you’ll never run. Or you will, but it will be infrequent. Would you be good at your job if you only showed up the one day a month you wanted to be there? Of course not. You show up each day and, regardless, put in the effort.
Consistency is a tool to utilize. It forces you to show up even when you don’t want to. And in that, there is learning, growth, and sympathy. There is learning in that, by being consistent, you give yourself room to:
- Try new things;
- And improve;
- Which leads to growth. Growth that then takes you to new levels.
For instance, if you work out consistently, you will see results (assuming you’re doing the right things). You’ll start to think differently, you’ll start to ask questions and do better. You will grow. More than that though is my favorite aspect of consistency: sympathy of self. It’s knowing that, in a world where you work out every single day, some sessions will be better than others. It’s inevitable. And that gives you room to be bad.
Consistency Takes the Pressure Off
I am able to write one article a day because I know it doesn’t need to be perfect. It just needs to be done. And, trusting that over time I will learn and grow, I am reassured. From experience, I’ve had days where my mind was blank, or I wasn’t thrilled about the topic, or I was low energy. I’ve also had days where ideas flowed freely and the writing was easy.
Instead of trying to force a masterpiece because it’s my “one-shot,” I can instead just do the best I’m able to do that day. Put another way, it allows me to stay in the game. I feel no pressure in regards to my articles. As long as I get it done, that’s all that matters. If I only published once a quarter though, I’d feel like that article would really need to count. And then, if it didn’t perform well, I’d be crushed. Maybe I’d stop writing altogether. I don’t have that problem though. Because being consistent gives me room to be bad.
Who do you think is better off? The person who eats healthy once a week, when they feel like it, or the person who eats healthy six days a week, even when they’re in the mood for something else?
From a pure results standpoint, clearly, it’s the second person. The first person may have one of the healthiest days of their life, but if they fill the rest of their time with junk it won’t matter. Conversely, the second person can do a mediocre job when they’re not feeling it, but because they showed up, are able to reap the benefits when they are in the mood the next day.
Moving Forward with Room to Be Bad
Take advantage of consistency. Plan out your schedule to swim at a certain time each day. Or to call your Mom each day. Or to read 20 pages of a book, four days a week. Decide what consistency looks like to you, bake that consistency into your schedule, then show up. You can always change what that consistency looks like. You can always switch from seven days a week to five. Or from three to six. But start today and make adjustments as you go.
By being consistent, you remove perfectionism as an option. And in doing so, you allow yourself to actually do the work.
Where perfectionism would make you second-guess and doubt, consistency gives you room to be bad. It recognizes that some days will be better than others but, so long as you put in the work, you will learn and grow because of it. In the past, many of my frustrations with my blog depended on how a particular article performed. Oftentimes, I spent several days “perfecting” a piece. And when it didn’t move the way I had hoped it would, I’d be grumpy.
I run into that problem much less now.
When I write something I think is particularly great, I do still watch the analytics. But the pressure, the attention, is much less. Because after all, it’s just one article out of 100. If it was one article out of five, I would be concerned. But out of 100, it’s barely a blip on my radar. And that’s a nice place to operate from. If my article today is bad, I know that tomorrow’s will be better. And knowing that, I stay in the game.