Many people take the opportunity to make a fresh start on goals they wish to achieve at the beginning of a new year. As noted in a previous blog post, avoid undefined resolutions (i.e. exercise more) and focus on specific goals (exercise 3 times every week).
Setting specific goals is a great start to identifying and achieving what you want in life but it will take more than planning to be successful in their execution. This year, use the power of consistency to realize your workout goals.
What is Consistency?
Consistency is the ability to do something over and over and over again like clockwork. It is regular, steady, stable, unchanging, undeviating action. When used properly, the results can be magical. Be careful you don’t confuse consistent with frequent. Consistent doesn’t mean daily but it does mean without fail.
What makes Consistency so powerful?
It shows improvement.
Taking regular action lets you know if what you are doing is working. How can you judge a new workout as a success or failure if you only do it once or twice? Give your goals a fighting chance at being effective by consistently performing actions towards your end result.
It minimizes sabotage.
When you are consistent, people know what to expect from you. If you spend every Saturday morning doing that long run, bike ride or gym workout, your friends and family will learn to respect Friday night means early to bed and stop trying to get you to do things that aren’t aligned with your goals (like going to the midnight movie opening of Star Wars dressed like Han Solo).
It invites the support of others.
Doing something on a regular basis, come hell or high water, sends a clear message: this is important to me. When others understand where your priorities lie and what you are trying to achieve, they are more likely to go the extra mile to support your efforts.
It keeps you focused.
Subscribing to consistency makes you accountable and keeps you on track. When excuses wiggle in, goals quickly become sidetracked. Having a consistent schedule or expected action keeps you working towards your goal every time.
It effects change.
You are what you do often. Stretching once a month will not improve your flexibility. Our health and wellbeing doesn’t work that way. To be successful at making real change, we need to be consistent in our actions.
How can you be more Consistent?
Start with slow and achievable.
If your ultimate goal is to exercise 3 times a week, it may be best not to start there. When establishing a new habit, consistency counts, not frequency. Let the first step be to exercise once a week. Arrange your schedule to find the one day you can commit to NO MATTER WHAT. Once you get in the habit of exercising that one day without fail, consider adding a second day – but not until you know you can do it every week. Build up a schedule you can stick with and set yourself up for success.
Never tell yourself you can’t be consistent.
You can. The key is making choices and determining your priorities. If you really want to achieve something, nothing can stop you. Acknowledge priorities are yours to make and eliminate the excuses. Yes, your day may be busy and fitting in a visit to the gym or time to get outside may be difficult but if it’s a priority, you can (and will) figure it out.
Know that consistent doesn’t mean perfect.
Some days, consistent is going to be running around the block and putting the sneakers back in the closet to be able to say you exercised 3 times this week. That’s okay. Being consistent is about having the choice to create an excuse or get it done (in some form) and then finding the power to make it happen.
Just keep going.
It takes time and hard work to turn a new behavior into a consistent habit – especially when we don’t feel motivated. Sometimes momentum is enough to keep us going. Newton’s law of inertia tells us the truth of this: an object in motion stays in motion. Getting started is tough, but once you get going, the ability to persist becomes easier. Today, that short run around the block may be “just getting it done” but in 3 months it may turn into a 5K race. Just keep moving.
Always have a Plan B.
Yes, life, work, family, holidays and many other things will come along and try to derail you from consistent action. Identify the common interruptions and plan in advance how to handle them. Keep exercise clothes in your car or sneakers in your work desk so if your evening blows up, you can squeeze in a quick something at lunch time and continue to make it happen.
Consistency is a powerful tool in your arsenal towards setting goals and making them happen. Use it to make this the year of achievement! Take the opportunity to incorporate regular, undeviating action into your life and watch the magic happen without fail.