“It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently.”
Truer words have never been spoken. I’ve met so many people who want to accomplish things in life and have fallen short time and time again. Learning a language, being a successful business person, being successful at work, learning a new instrument, the list of endeavors we pursue as humans are virtually endless.
But despite what we view as our greatest efforts, we oftentimes fall short, wouldn’t you agree?
We look at those who have “made it,” and we think to ourselves, why were they able to do it and I haven’t?
Often, the reason that we equate to their successes is the infamous innate ability that we call “talent.” As if they’re just born with all the necessary skills to be hugely successful. But is that really the case? Are successful people genetically predisposed to be successful?
No, they aren’t. Successful people are successful because they’ve learned what it takes to be successful. And what does it take? Consistency.
You will accomplish nothing of value in life if are you not consistent. Basketball players, guitar players, language aficionados, entrepreneurs, they all have one thing in common. They’re all remarkably consistent.
Consistency is so essential simply because it takes time to attain anything of value. Being skilled at anything takes a massive amount of time and energy. When you’re consistent, you accumulate this time and energy over months or years of work.
Most people don’t see things this way though. They start a new endeavor, and they expect immediate results. Or if they don’t expect immediate results, they at least expect unrealistic results. That’s why there are advertisements out there like, “learn a language in 3 weeks.” Rubbish. That kind of nonsense isn’t possible.
Success at anything takes a consistent and deliberate effort.
So, with consistency being so important, how can you learn to be consistent in any endeavor you undertake?
Step one: Understand the power of consistency
Most people who don’t realize how important consistency is will spend large and sporadic blocks of time engaging in a new activity, thinking that this is the sure way to reach their goal. Granted, spending significant periods of time at your craft is okay, but only if you can do it consistently. It’s better to spend smaller amounts of time consistently than large amounts sporadically.
As an example, let’s take learning a new language.
If you learned two words a day in a new language, by the end of one year, you would have learned 790 words. If you learn three words a day, now you’re at 1095 words. After knowing about 1000 words in a language, you are conversational. And the thing is, if you are consistent with learning every day a few words in a target language, you will end up learning more than just those 2 or 3 words a day. You’ll learn a lot naturally from conversations and context. So in one year, you could know more like 1500 words, and you’d only be spending about 10 minutes learning every day.
That’s the power of consistency!
Step Two: Build a habit
The toughest part about consistency is building the habit in the first place.
“Successful people aren’t born that way. They become successful by establishing the habit of doing things unsuccessful people don’t like to do.”
I love this quote because of the last part; they do things that “unsuccessful people don’t like to do.” Habits like writing an article every day are not easy to form because it’s not easy to do.
It’s fun to write a few articles when you’re in the mood to write, but it can be a drag to do it every, single, stinking, day. So most people just won’t do it. But how can you do it?
How to build a habit
If you want to form the habit, you need to start small. Don’t make a ridiculous goal like, I’m going to write five articles a day. That’s ludicrous. There’s a high probability you won’t be able to sustain that.
Instead, set a goal that’s so simple that you won’t have to push yourself too hard to accomplish it. It can be something like writing half an article a day, or even one paragraph a day — something like that.
Setting simple goals will help you to build a habit. Once you’ve set the habit, you can start adding more and more onto your plate. But start small so that you can ensure that you make whatever your process is an entrenched habit.
The great thing about these two simple points is that you can work on multiple items at a time. You can learn a language while you’re building a career. You can learn an instrument while you’re learning a language. Since the time that you spend learning is so short, you’re able to do multiple things at once if you want to.
So what do you want to do? Do you want to be a successful programmer, or writer, or artist, or Instagram content creator? Then learn to be consistent, and you will see yourself consistently reach your goals.