“Desire…the starting point of all achievement”- Napoleon Hill (Think and Grow Rich). I never truly understood those words until I experienced them for myself.
When I ask people what area of their lives they have the greatest desire to be more consistent in, my next question is always “Why is it a MUST for you?” Not a want or wish but MUST. Is it something you obsess about day and night? Is it worth sacrificing an aspect of your life to see it realized? Is it worth dying for? This may sound a bit cryptic, but trust me you have to believe in what you’re doing so much that it would be worth dying for, before you give up on it.
I often ask this question because I know without a strong ‘Why’ then it’s a 100% guarantee they won’t stick with whatever goal they’re pursuing.
Before I begin let me first explain what I mean by a ‘Why’. This means a reason why (hence the term) you have a strong desire to achieve the goal you have. Why it will be worth being consistent day in and day out, even when you don’t feel like it (ESPECIALLY when you don’t feel like it), in order to achieve that goal. Now it’s not enough just to have a Why, but a strong emotionally compelling one. This means a reason that moves you on such a deep level, to the core of your heart and depth of your soul. So much so that NOT accomplishing this reason or seeing it materialize would be far more painful than dying…literally. This is extremely key in being consistent in anything you’re doing long enough until you get the results you’re after.
Why Having a Strong Reason is Important in Remaining Consistent
Willpower won’t be enough. In the process of remaining consistent, many success teachings have always told you “All you need is willpower and motivation”. Well raise your hand if willpower has helped you remain Consistent long-term…I’ll wait. Willpower causes you to push and fight against your nature to be inconsistent when something isn’t yet a habit, and anything that you push against ultimately pushes back. You can fight for a while, but eventually it gets tiring. So what will happen is you will find that it becomes more of a burden to actually execute your routine. Rather than doing it because you really want to, you do it because you feel you have to. There are times when willpower is needed to push through in the beginning, but if all you’re relying on is willpower it eventually creates mental exhaustion. Just thinking about doing your routine will make you not want to do it
Your brain will start to link Pain to doing the activity. Once you get to the point where you constantly have to be fighting against yourself to remain consistent, then you will start to feel more pain towards doing the activity than the pleasure you will receive as a reward for being consistent. What happens is our brains are wired to help us avoid anything that it deems as painful. So once your brain links pain to doing the activity, it’s over. You’re going to want to find something else to do to help avoid this painful experience. Justifying why you can’t do it today will become all too easy
It won’t be a priority for you. Basically this is how we as human beings work: whatever is a MUST increases in the value we have for said thing, and the more value for said thing increases, the more we will make it a priority. So if it isn’t a MUST for you, then it doesn’t become a priority, then you will find excuses not to do it, rather than reasons why you have to
Why having a strong emotionally compelling reason is so powerful is because it pulls you rather than pushes you to remain consistent. When you are pulled it’s an attraction, meaning you want to remain consistent because each time you do you feel pulled towards your goal. Just the thought of how much it will mean to you once you arrive at your end goal is enough to get you up, and make you endure the temporary pain today to experience the exhilaration you will feel once the goal is accomplished, through being consistent. There will still be pain, so let me not give you any false expectations. However, because the reward of remaining consistent is much stronger than the pain you will experience today, it will be enough to pull you through.
Whichever emotion is stronger (the pain of the routine or the pleasure of the reward), this is the one that will influence and control your actions of ‘Do it…Don’t it’.
I can remember when I decided to learn Spanish in 2016. I asked one of my friends who is a Spanish teacher which online resource could I use to learn, and he mentioned Duolingo (which is pretty good by the way). I went on, signed up, and was pumped up and ready to get this Spanish learning done. As far as I was concerned I was going to be The Greatest Ever at Spanish! The first day with great enthusiasm and motivation I put in an hour of work to learn…AWESOME! I felt good! I got it done! The next day 30 minutes. Okay not as good but there will be some down days. By day 3 I couldn’t even be bothered to see or hear another Spanish word. You see my reason for learning Spanish wasn’t emotionally compelling enough to get me to remain consistent.
I’ll share with you the REAL reason I wanted to learn Spanish (don’t laugh). I had just finished watching Limitless with Bradley Cooper for the 10th time (great movie by the way). The premise of the movie is he takes a pill that gives him unlimited brain capacity in thinking and reasoning and becomes a genius overnight. So there’s a scene when he’s in the restaurant and he’s speaking Latin to the waitress and he was so fluent, and looked so cool doing it. So then my immediate thought was “I need to learn a foreign language, multiple foreign languages! I would be so cool and I would impress so many women with my fluency!” (I told you don’t laugh). The problem with this reason was, impressing women isn’t that big of a deal to me (not unless I plan to marry her). It wasn’t enough to warrant me spending my days learning a language I had no real interest in, or no real significant reason to learn. Plus I never needed to learn a foreign language to impress or get women. So that’s why I couldn’t even last a week. Learning Spanish wasn’t a MUST for me.
On another note I also remember when I first decided to start working out again, and wanted to remain consistent at it. Now this wasn’t the first time I’ve tried being consistent at working out. I’ve tried more times than I can recall in one lifetime. However, I could never remain consistent for more than 15 days. This time I challenged myself to remain consistent for at least 30 days, and I did! Not only for 30 days, but for months that followed after, and still to this day almost a year later. What was different was this time I had an emotionally compelling reason. This time it wasn’t about working out just for the sake of being healthy, impressing women, or having an amazing physique. This time I didn’t just want to, but I NEEDED to prove to myself that I could be consistent, not just with working out but in every area of my life.
I felt my inconsistency was the main reason I had been stuck in life and I was sick and tired of feeling stuck. I was tired of being inconsistent in my life and had finally had enough. I decided to study and master the science of consistency, and this would allow me to turn things around in my life. Plus, this also contributed to my vision for 5 Years2 Mastery. I was so obsessed with realizing my vision for it that I would literally spend hours, day and night working on it, not wanting to sleep, not wanting to eat. It became so bad that I would ignore other responsibilities just to focus working on it. It was the most exhilarated I had felt in a while pursuing a vision.
Do you notice the difference? The reason for learning Spanish was external and insignificant (wanting to impress women). My reason for wanting to remain consistent working out was internal and meaningful to me. Wanting to turn my life around, help others do the same, and the feeling of empowerment knowing I had control over my life and destiny. These meant more to me on a deep and emotional level.
In this instance I didn’t have to push myself to be consistent, it came naturally. I was doing it because I had a strong desire to and was excited to, not because I felt I had to. I was pulled to remain consistent. It wasn’t about reaching a goal, it was the joy of working towards the goal every day that excited me. Knowing that with each activity, each day, I was one step closer to the vision materializing, and that feeling, that amazing exhilarating feeling of accomplishment and becoming the best version of myself kept me consistent.
To really be consistent with what you are after until you get it you have to know WHY it’s a MUST, and have an obsession towards realizing it.
Next Action Step
Identify what your emotionally compelling reason is. Don’t tell yourself what sounds good or politically correct to say “For my kids”. If deep down you know that’s not true, it’s okay that doing it for you may be a greater motivator than doing it for your kids. The goal is to focus on what will move you not what sounds good. When thinking about your ‘Why’ focus more on your feelings than your thoughts. Focus on what seems to move your heart
Identify as many as possible and write them down. Don’t limit yourself to one, the more the better, just ensure that the reasons are emotional
Pick the top 3 from your list written down and post them in different areas of your home and work where you can see them or be reminded (pictures are also good for this). If that may be a bit much for you right now, then get a small notebook, write them down there, and carry around with you always. This will act as a quick reminder for you when you get discouraged or feel burdened by the process of taking action
Remember what you need is something that will pull you most days, like an attraction, something worth being consistent to achieve, that will make it easier to perform the activity. Not because you have to, but because you need to. If after a while you start to feel doing the activity is more of a burden than not doing it, it may mean your reason isn’t emotionally compelling enough, or you have forgotten your emotionally compelling reason.
It’s important that your strong reason not only be identified but also very clearly defined, and written down. The clearer and more emotionally compelling the better. It is also important to review it EVERY DAY! This is important in reminding you why you’re doing what you’re doing, and why it’s worth remaining consistent. It’s very easy to forget what you’re working towards and why.
This happened with me recently where because I was so caught up with the routine itself, it started to feel like doing it was a burden, which affected my consistency. However, once I reminded myself why I was doing it, I became consistent again, and it felt more joyous doing it than a burden.
I know sometimes it will be difficult to keep going, but in case you ever feel like quitting just remember why you started in the first place.
To your success my friend!
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