There’s nothing more frustrating than knowing you were consistent in a particular activity for days or even weeks. Suddenly, it seemed as though the heavens were opening and finally you were getting this area of your life back on track. Then without warning you had to miss a day (oh the horror!). Okay…no big deal, it’s just one day right? One day suddenly turned into two, then three, before you know it you’re one week in without executing your routine…you’ve loss consistency (sucks I know).
I’ve been there. The rush of starting something new always gets you going for a while, until you find yourself in that deep hole of slipping back into bad habits by failing to maintain your consistency.
I can remember one occasion in particular. It was close to the launch of 5Y2M (around December 2016), nothing seemed to be going as I had planned it. It was a bit frustrating and I found myself spending most of the days having to learn coding and website design all over again, and fixing technical and design issues with the site (luckily this was the one class I actually paid attention in back in 2006). I started noticing that the months I had spent developing consistency in my spiritual life, my daily Faith and Gratitude practice, and workout routine was slipping, and my body didn’t hesitate to show it (bye-bye sexy physique, hello beer belly).
I knew I was missing more and more days, and it would be harder to get back on track the more days I missed, but I kept procrastinating and finding excuses why I couldn’t do it each day. I was even a bit intimidated to check my T&M Sheet because I knew it would show my lack of discipline. After working up the courage to check it I realized I had missed 11 days straight! Even after I checked it I STILL procrastinated for another 12 days. That’s over 3 weeks!
This was just unacceptable so I finally decided to get back on track with both my spiritual and workout routine that very day. The irony of it is restarting the process seemed even harder than when I started.
Why is it so hard to get back into consistency?
You’re trying to do too much too soon. When you have been consistent for a while and stop, typically the temptation is there to just start right back where you left off. The challenge with this is that the more time that has passed, the more your brain will start to slip back into its old behaviours and habits. So let’s say you’re use to working out for 1 hour before you started missing days. Once you begin to miss days, over time your brain will slip back into your bad habit of not working. If you start back the routine trying to do a 1 hour workout, your brain will resist because it’s still in lazy, relaxed mode and you’re trying to push it back to hardcore hour in one go. Your brain will now perceive this as pain, and what it will then do is try to avoid the activity altogether. That’s why when you try to restart it seems like such a daunting task.
Not setting the Standard and Expectation for yourself. This is EXTREMELY important! The reason most people (including myself at times) fail to be consistent with an activity, is because you haven’t set or committed to the Standard and Expectation (S&E for short) of what you refuse to settle for and tolerate with yourself. If you think about it aren’t there areas of your life that you are consistent in without fail? Take notice of why and you’ll probably realize you either set the S&E of what you were unwilling to compromise from the beginning, or you increased your S&E of what you will and will not settle from now on. If you don’t set the S&E then it becomes very easy to settle, and make excuses for why you aren’t consistent. This is what happened to me when I fell off track. I began making excuses each day for why I couldn’t get it done that day
Not being specifically clear on ‘Why’ you should be consistent. This is another that is very important. When you aren’t clear on why you need to be (not just want to be) consistent in an area then there really isn’t any reason why you should be consistent. In other words there’s no motivation (no motive or reason). Being consistent in this area will suddenly become an option rather than a priority for you, and whatever isn’t a priority in our lives we don’t place much value on, which means it doesn’t get much of our time and attention
It’s easier to slip back into our comfort zone. The infamous comfort zone! This is the killer of many a dream. One thing you should understand is our brains are designed to avoid anything it thinks is painful for us, and move towards anything that is pleasurable. Therefore, if your brain thinks exercising is painful and sitting on the couch watching TV is more pleasing, it’s gonna choose the couch. If working towards your goals is seen as painful, and browsing Youtube watching kitty videos is more pleasurable, it will more likely choose the kitties. The point is our comfort zone is exactly that COMFORTABLE, and we will almost always choose that which is more comfortable and easy, we will always choose the path of least resistance and pain
I have found that whenever I miss days it’s usually because I allowed myself to compromise on the Standard and Expectation I’ve set for myself (usually because I haven’t affirmed it that day so my brain hasn’t been reminded what it is). Also, when I start to feel like taking action becomes more overbearing than not doing anything it is usually because I have forgotten why being consistent is important to me in terms of the ultimate goal I want to accomplish that means a lot to me. In this case I have to think back to why I am doing this relating to the outcome I am after that is emotionally compelling to me. If that doesn’t work then I identify a new ‘Why’ that will be.
What you should do to get back into consistency?
Set the Standard and Expectation before you get back into action. Don’t just jump up after reading this post, feeling motivated, then charging back into action, that won’t work and we’ll be back here a few days from now. The FIRST thing you need to do is set the S&E. Tell yourself (literally open your mouth and tell yourself) what you won’t settle for or compromise anymore. Say “I am someone who never misses a day to [routine] from now on, no matter what happens or how I feel”. That verbal declaration to yourself sends a message to your subconscious letting it know the behaviours it should follow from now on. However, it’s not enough just to say it, you have to also act on it and stick with it. You have to prove to your subconscious that you are serious or it won’t take you seriously in ensuring you stick with it
Make a decision to get going before the day is done. Once you’re ready to get back into action it is a MUST for you to take action ASAP, or the very least before the day ends. Why? Because if you wait to do it then you’ll slip back into a state where it’s easy to make excuses and procrastinate. Basically what you’re telling your brain is there is no sense of urgency to get it done at this moment, and if you don’t think it’s urgent your mind and body won’t think it is either, and then you slip back into your comfort zone. The easiest way to follow through on restarting the same day is tell yourself you won’t do something you like or want to do until your routine is done. For example, if you have a favourite television program coming on tonight tell yourself you’re not allowed to watch it until you do the routine. If you are tired and want to go home, tell yourself you’re not allowed to go home until you do the routine. Let what you want to do be your reward for taking action
Start small and then build from there. This goes hand in hand with Number 2. When you’re restarting don’t start at the level you left off. This is because your brain will become overwhelmed with the idea of starting at that high a level all over again. Right now as far as your brain is concerned this isn’t continuing where you left off, this is restarting the process all over again. When you’ve loss consistency and momentum, restarting with small steps allows you to see that it’s not as hard, painful, and overwhelming as you may think. This is what I did to get back into my routines, because as far as my brain was concerned I wasn’t going all out to leap tall buildings in a single bound, I was just making small mini steps one foot forward at a time
Note: If you start off smaller than before and still find that your brain sees it as a daunting task then go smaller, keep going smaller until your brain accepts the ‘restart level’ as easy. Remember the aim right now is getting back into consistency.
Clearly define and write down the reason it’s a MUST to remain consistent (and remind yourself often). One thing I have realized is the areas I am most consistent in are the areas where I directly link me being consistent to a desirable end goal that is emotionally compelling for me. For example, I am most consistent in my workout routine, not because having an amazing body motivates me. I do because I have made the direct connection that if I am consistent with my workout routine, I can figure out how to remain consistent in other areas of my life, especially business, and then I will be able to help others do the same. That’s way more emotionally compelling to me than chest or abs. If you are successful at clearly defining why it’s a MUST to remain consistent, and that reason (or reasons) is emotionally compelling to you, then the reason will be enough to drive you to get back into action, and make consistency easier
Think about what you will lose or the consequence if you’re not consistent. As I mentioned earlier as human beings our brains will more likely move towards things that are pleasurable and away from things that it thinks is painful. This is simply a built in survival mechanism it has. However, we can also learn to use this Pain/Pleasure situation to our advantage. If we think about the pain we will experience if we DON’T get back into action, our brain will create what’s known as The Fear of Loss. It perceives the pain that it will experience, and because of this pain will cause you to move
Next Action Step
Let’s get you back into action with some actionable steps:
Identify and set the Standard and Expectation, write it down, and verbally speak your commitment to no longer miss any days
Identify at least one strong and emotionally compelling reason why it’s a MUST for you to remain consistent, and write it down
Identify at least one painful consequence of not remaining consistent and write it down
Take a small and very simple action as soon as you are finished reading this post. If before you made 5-10 sales calls and you’ve fallen off track, get on the phone right now and make 2 calls…just 2, and do that for the next 3-5 days. Then work your way up to 3 calls, then 4, and slowly build back up to your numbers. If you would typically work out for 30 minutes, don’t try to get back to 30 minutes now, do 10 minutes for the next few days and build back up to it.
Celebrate and congratulate yourself for getting back on track, and feel good for doing so
The important thing is just to get back into action RIGHT NOW!
Once you are able to set the Standard and Expectation for yourself and commit to it, clearly define why it’s a MUST to remain consistent (not just a want or wish), and trigger your mind and body into action immediately to prove to yourself you are serious, then you should be back on track in no time.
Whenever you find yourself feeling like you want to miss a day, or start missing days again, then remind yourself of the Standard & Expectation you set for yourself by speaking it. Also, read your emotionally compelling reason for being consistent, and also the consequence if you aren’t and picture both in your mind. If both the pleasure of reaching your goal, and the pain of not being consistent is strong enough then you should be able to get yourself back in action.
If you’ve missed at least 7 days don’t try to restart where you left off, it’s best to start at a lesser amount or number and work your way back up to where you were. It’s more about reconditioning your mind back into consistency that trying to do it all
Identify what made you get off-track in the first place. Study how you felt when you slipped back into inconsistency, and what triggered those feelings (people, events, etc.). Then as much as possible try to avoid what triggered those feelings. If you don’t identify what made you get off-track, it will more likely happen again in a negative state (frustration, anger, overwhelm, sadness, etc.)
Download the Track & Measure sheet below. As the name suggests this is what you can use to track how many days you have been consistent and measure your progress. One thing I have realized, not just with me but with others I introduce this to, when you are tracking and measuring your progress, and you can actually see the progress you are making down on paper, it gives you greater encouragement to keep going. Even when you mess up, once you see how far you’ve come with your consistency, you’ll want to get back on track because of the feelings of accomplishment and empowerment it creates in you to see how much you have grown and becoming a person in control of their life and destiny
Download Track & Measure Sheet
To your success my friend!
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