Consistency is Key…And Sometimes We All Lose Our Keys!
Consistency is key. You’ve probably heard this before in a variety of situations, but never more in the area of habits and goal achievement. After all, what is a habit, but a consistent behavior? And how do we reach our goals…by developing the habits that get us there. Go figure, that in order to create a consistent behavior, we have to be…consistent. But isn’t that the problem? If we were being consistent already, we would already have the habit we wanted to create in the first place. Wouldn’t we?
The real question is: How do we get ourselves to be consistent?
1) The First Step is in truly making the commitment to the new behavior. Many of us have desires to do something different, but we don’t actually commit. These are the precontemplation and contemplation stages of change. When you are in the precontemplation stage you may be starting to become unhappy with how things are going given your regular habits and behavior, but it’s not on your radar yet to make a change. In the contemplation stage, you start to recognize that maybe making a change would improve your situation, but you’re just thinking about it. Something needs to happen between the Contemplation stage and the next stage Action. That something is commitment. You can’t really force a commitment, it’s something that has to come from within. A part of you really needs to believe that this is what you have to do. You have to be convinced that the habit you want to create will bring you the results that you desire (In another article, I will talk more about how to help yourself move in that direction). When you reach this deep level of commitment it is much easier to be consistent about your action steps.
2) Now that you have committed to this new behavior, you need to take Action. This is the Second Step: Schedule this New Behavior into Your Life! Don’t just say you’ll get to it, when you get to it. Pick the behavior that you want to create as a habit and put it in your schedule like any other appointment, preferably at the same time each day. For example, if you new habit is running, pick a time of day and put it in your calendar. Treat it like any other appointment. Don’t schedule other things at the same time. Honor this commitment.
3) Okay, so you’ve committed, you’ve scheduled, you’ve been going along just fine and then you lose your keys (consistency, remember?). William James once said it takes 21 days to form a habit. I’ve heard others say 45 or 90. I don’t know if there is any sound research to prove how many days you have to be consistent before something is actually an ingrained habit. What I do know is that many people acquire new behaviors (through consistency), start getting the results they are looking for, thus losing their motivating factors for making those changes and revert back to old behaviors. It’s part of human nature. So, how do you find your keys again?
a. Stop Beating Yourself Up For It: Beating yourself up will not motivate you, it will just make yourself feel bad and leave you less likely to do something good for yourself.
b. Stop Making Excuses: Stop listing all of the reasons you lost your keys in the first place.
c. Re-Commit: Conjure up all of those feelings and reasons that helped you commit, plus add on to that all of the positive results you have experienced so far.
d. Make it a Priority: The real reason we stop being consistent is because as we had some progress the behavior lost its sense of urgency and fell down our list of priorities. Think about how you are prioritizing your life. What needs to happen so that this becomes a priority again?
e. Go Back to Your Schedule
f. Take Action
g. Congratulate Yourself for Getting Back on Track: Celebrate your success and your renewed commitment. It’s not about whether or not you lost your keys, it’s about whether or not you stopped to find them again.
So remember…In developing any new behavior, we have to keep repeating that behavior. But everyone gets off track once in a while. Don’t be hard on yourself, just repeat the process until it sticks!
Tell us how it’s working for you!