Why is it so easy to decide to exercise, get started, keep it up for a week or even a few months, but difficult to keep the same up day after day, over a period of years? It also seems relatively easy to start a new project or pursuit, but rather difficult to sustain it, especially over a long period of time. A good number of people happen to be good starters but terrible finishers, switching between one project to the next whenever they encounter a challenge or get bored, among other reasons. Can you think of any unfinished project(s) that you have been keeping for a while?
Consistency is probably one of the hardest virtues to practice. It denotes achievement of a level of performance that does not vary greatly in quality over time, constancy or regularity. It also refers to an action marked by harmony, regularity, or steady continuity.
Consistency has a lot to do with one’s frame of mind or attitude, as opposed to one’s willpower to endure or stick to something. Contrary to popular belief, people who are able to remain consistent over a long period of time do not have a special power or ability to endure. Consistency is actually a habit that can be practiced and learnt. It also gets easier with time. Consistency requires one to step back and look at the bigger picture. It works well when one uses a much larger timescale, not merely weeks or months, keeping in mind that the hurdles you face along the way can be overcome and smoothed out as you continue working on whatever area of your life you are targeting.
An expectation of instant results or progress is an enemy of consistency. The person who takes action every single day toward the attainment of their goal will always triumph over those who do it every once in a while.
While starting something new seems to have some short-term momentum, it is doing the same thing continually that, in the long run, builds up into progress and achievement of goals. So your weight loss plan is not working after one month of sticking to it, or you don’t seem to have made much career progress in the past one year? What’s the best way for you to get in shape? Exercise, for five years. What’s the best way to grow your career? Keep working at it excellently for a decade. This is the approach and attitude to take in order to achieve consistency in anything – to do something, every day, for years. Remember the famous Aristotle quote, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
It’s important to note that consistency does not mean that one always has to do things the same way. Neither does it indicate boredom or a lack of initiative or improvement. Consistency builds both character and credibility.