Every day you choose to do many things. These things, whatever they are, shape your life. When you consistently do something, you create a habit, good or bad. Your brain doesn’t know if a habit is good or bad, it only knows as that you do it all of the time. To reach your goals, consistency in productive activities that make you feel good and contribute to the future you want is key.
Consistency leads to sustainable results. The more you do something, the better you become, the more you want to do it. To ensure that you stay consistent, it’s best to do things even when you’re not inspired. Building a habit is an excellent way to stick to a program at all times. Every day won’t be great, some days will be a struggle, but every day should lead you closer to your goals.
The following 10 tips can help you establish habits and maintain habits after the 21-45 day period needed to form them.
#1 CREATE A MORNING RITUAL
When you first wake up, do the same routine. This will set the tone for your day as a day that will be filled with productivity, a growth-mindset, and enjoyment. As humans, we want to follow a pattern and have structure in our lives. When you begin your day the same, you are creating a structure of growth as soon as you wake.
#2 DO THINGS NO MATTER WHAT
Even if you really don’t want to, do the activities that will become habits. Disregard your inner voice and feelings. Consistency is separate from your feelings and that inner voice which are determined to convince you to skip things.
#3 STRIVE TO FOLLOW YOUR TRUE BELIEFS
When you do, say, or think something that doesn’t mesh with who you are, this leads to disappointment in yourself and lowers your self-esteem. What you do or don’t do sends feedback to you about who you are. When you do what you set out to do, such as being kind, going to the gym, or finishing that article, you feel good. When you are mean, skip the gym and hang out at home, and work on that article but don’t finish, you often feel worse about yourself. We put much stock into not disappointing others. We work hard to make our bosses’ deadlines and submit high-quality work, or show up for our family’s events, but it’s as important, or more important, to not disappoint ourselves. We have expectations for your own selves, and when we fall below our own bar, the damage is deep.
Set goals to become a better person and meet them. Be consistent and you will find you feel better about yourself, have achieved more, and touched many more people’s lives positively.
#4 FOCUS ON THE MIDDLE, NOT THE END
When embarking on any endeavor, have an end in mind, but don’t focus on this. Settle in and enjoy the process. By not continuously checking if you have reached your goal, but focusing on your consistency, you will eventually reach your goal and possibly exceed it. The results may not come as fast as you’d like, but you can avoid the emotional spiral that happens when you are “late” by enjoying the creative process.
#5 DISCOVER WHAT YOU LIKE OR LOVE
If you haven’t found what you love, find what you like. Being consistent is much easier if you enjoy what you’re doing. When every thought is filled with dread, staying consistent will be a lot harder. Search widely for what you like. Search for what you’ve never tried. When something strikes you, make that one of “your things”.
#6 GET RID OF OBSOLETE SELF-IMAGES
As you remain consistent and begin to change, let go of any self-limiting self-images. These may feel comfortable but they will keep you from growing as much as you’d like. For instance, if you are intent on becoming a writer, and you are writing every day, the old self-image that you are not a writer will hold you back. By embracing your new identity, you give yourself the freedom to fully become this new person and feel comfortable adhering to these new criteria.
#7 REMIND YOURSELF
On a post-it note, your computer’s desktop, or your calendar, write down the goal that you want to make into a habit. This will help you remember that you are working to make this into a habit. This can reduce distractions and keep you focused on the important skills, knowledge, and relationships you want to build now so you can enjoy them in the future.
#8 STICK TO ONE THING
When you are working on becoming consistent, only work on one thing at a time. Do this until it is an iron-clad habit and then add another activity you’d like to pursue. This will cement that activity in your brain and keep you consistent. For instance, if you are quitting smoking, don’t try to do anything else, like quitting pop, while doing this. Either quit pop or quit smoking, but don’t do both at the same time.
#9 BLOCK YOUR PRIORITIES OUT
Don’t squeeze your potential habits into the rest of your life, make them pillars that hold up the roof of your existence. Give them authority by making them important and deserving of their own slot in your life. When you schedule your activities in, you are more able to stay consistent because they are a vital part of your life. Penciled in, on the calendar, and, unless there is an extreme emergency, non-negotiable.
#10 IF YOU FALL OF THE WAGON, CHASE IT AND GET BACK ON
Rather than lament how you fell off the wagon by missing a workout or not writing for one day, skip that reaction, run, and jump back on, immediately. The next day, get back on and endeavor to stay back on. The longer you beat yourself up, the less time you’ll spend on that wagon and the farther the horses will take it from you. Run fast, hard, and grab those reins.
These are just some of the ways you can build consistency in your life. Try one and when you’ve got it mastered, try another.