“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a a habit.” – Aristotle
One of the hardest things in life is to stick with something for a long time. We live in a microwave society, and we tend to cling to our 30-day challenges and 10-day cleanses because it seems so much easier than making long term changes.
Most people would rather go on these “binges” than go to the gym on a constant routine or implement a vegetarian diet as a lifestyle. The reality is, results only come with being consistent; and you have to be consistent for more than a snapshot of time.
As a writer, this is an ever-present phenomenon in my life. I have started numerous blogs and podcasts, but haven’t mastered the consistency part. Even when I’m writing a simple article, I find a way to get distracted. And sometimes, I don’t even finish in one sitting.
People of all walks of life will find all kind of excuses to hinder their productivity. “I’m in a rush, so I’m going to eat fast food today,” or “I got off work late, so I can’t make it to the gym. “ Other common excuses are “I’m too tired. I’m too busy. It’s just one time.” These simple phrases become crutches. In actuality, most excuses are pretty legitimate, but at the end of the day, they are just what they are, excuses.
Consistency requires planning and routine. Excuses can be made, but consistency doesn’t leave room for them. When I was most consistent with my vegetarian lifestyle, I would make dinner every night and pack my lunch for the next day. I would wake up at 5 a.m. every day, drink a glass of water and eat a banana.
I would both journal and meditate for a combined 30 minutes each day. I would boil my rolled oats, and while they were cooking, I would do my 30-minute yoga session to keep my body toned. I would turn off my stove and set them aside and then get in the shower. I would get dressed in work clothes that were prepared the night before and do my makeup and hair.
Then I would cut up a banana and add cinnamon and brown sugar to my oats in a to-go container. I would grab my lunch bag out the refrigerator and my work bag by the door and head to my car. I would arrive to work every day no later than 7:15 am.
While this may seem very prescribed and boring to some, it allowed me to get everything done in my day that I wanted to get accomplished. It made time for work and play without compromising the healthy lifestyle that I wanted to maintain. I did this for almost two years straight and then I got lazy by often times making excuses.
Starting a routine is not hard, but keeping up with it is quite challenging. Discipline requires passion. You will always make excuses for something if you’re not genuinely passionate about it. I focused on having a vegetarian lifestyle, and I was consistent as long as my passion was strong. So what happened?
Consistency has this ability to make us arrogant and that when you do something for so long, and see the results you’re expecting, you begin to think that it can’t be compromised by just one moment. But the truth is, one moment is all it takes to throw you off.
Since I moved back to North Carolina, I have yet to get a routine down quite like the aforementioned one that I could feel pride in. So how does one get that good, old thing back? It takes effort! Everyday effort.
I literally have to talk to myself to stay on track. I have to make lists and post them. I have to honor the list and really check off each item once completed. I have to keep telling myself that tomorrow is a new day to start again and do it better. I have to remind myself that I am not a machine and I will fail sometime. I have to let go of excuses, not matter how legit they may be. I have to stay encouraged and live with integrity. I have to ask myself what do I really want to do and do it.
We can all be consistent; we just have to want it bad enough and keep working on it. We have to learn to reward the small victories. If I am consistent for two days, I pat myself on the back and just keep pushing toward the five day mark. It’s like when you start back working out, you make it to your goal of 20 sit-ups, but you keep pushing past it, and say, “I’m going to do 10 more.” That’s how real consistency is built. Before long, your 10-day cleanse becomes 30 days, and your 30-day challenge becomes a lifestyle.
In the words of the lovable animated fish, Dory, “just keep swimming.”