It’s easy to scroll by pictures of beautiful life experiences on social media and compare yourself to those idealized images. I know. And often you’ll see something that you’d actually like to have.
For me right now, it’s completely happy fiddle leaf fig trees. Mine are small, but they have high hopes. So, I could go out and buy a completely full grown fiddle leaf fig tree that is 10 feet tall with lush shiny leaves. But there’s something kind of amazing starting with something small and growing it bigger. Maybe it’s just a little bit of my entrepreneurial spirit.
But there’s one thing that has to happen in order to grow anything, from a business, to a plant, or even to get to that dream life you have pictured for yourself: consistency.
I’m not sure if you know the mythology of fiddle leaf figs. They require very consistent care. Consistent watering, consistent humidity, consistent placement. If you move them around, they complain. If you forget to to water them, those big boisterous leaves droop or discolor. They are taskmasters of consistency.
Though we recreate our life experience with every breath we take, to build something big takes time. It takes consistency. And more often than not, it takes series of base hits rather than a series of home runs. Every once in a while you’ll get that home run where the stars align and magic happens, but more often than not, you’re going to get base hits, inching yourself towards a larger goal.
If you’re trying to get in shape or lose weight, it’s a consistency game. If you’re parenting a child, it’s a consistency game. If you’re running a marathon, it is a consistency game. If you’re building a business, an audience, or a reputation, it is a consistency game. If you’re doing 30 days of #ClickPublish, it’s a consistency game. Cough.
In some areas of my life, I’m relentlessly consistent. I am the queen of base hits and reliability. I walk a couple of miles before I do anything else every single morning. I am relentlessly available for my kids. I show up when I am needed, and I bring good vibes and positive encouragement to the teams I’m on, whether that’s WordCamp teams, my workaday teams, or my neighborhood groups.
In other areas, I fall short. Usually I fall short in the goals I set for my own creative projects.
So, today, I wanted to explore consistency. How can we be more consistent in showing up where it counts?
- Know where it counts. Before you start becoming consistent, you have to know where it counts. What are your values? For me, I value my morning walks because I know it helps with my mental and physical health. I know that turning off the television and avoiding incendiary rhetoric is important for my well-being and happiness. For other people, not knowing is stress inducing.
- Get clear on your why. Knowing what you value is a big part of your why. It is the big goal, the thing you’re striving for. If you’re looking to get in shape for a marathon, maybe your marathon is your why. Maybe your why is knowing that you’ll have more energy being in shape than you were when you were 50 pounds heavier. Your why is your mission, it’s why you’ve committed to being consistent in the first place.
- Start with habits every morning. My morning routine is untouchable. I’m up before anyone else in the family and I’m out the door. I come back to coffee and making up the bed. Nothing happens before my walk. My family knows not to text me during that time and to let me be.
- Figure out the base hits. You probably already have an idea where you’d like to go, so what base hits (or small wins) will get you to the big wins? How can you simplify that larger goal into something that is simplistically achievable?
- Celebrate the base hits. If your goal is to retire at 50 and cooking more meals at home is one of your base hits, celebrate even if it is pasta night and you’d rather have lasagna from the local Italian bistro.
- Write it down. Document your big dreams, your little dreams, and what consistent actions will get you there. Write down your values and get true clarity in what you want from your life experience.
- Prioritize. What’s more important, right here right now? Be realistic, too, and be forgiving of yourself when you cannot be consistent. In reality, if I have to put being available for my kids up against #ClickPublish, then my writing isn’t going to be prioritized. I have to forgive myself for that and celebrate that my values are where I want them to be.
- Consistent thinking. Does doubt plague you? Give yourself a set amount of time every day to consistently think optimistically about your goals. The base hit goals are often most helpful here because they’re realistic.
- Know your emotions. See what I did there? Your emotions are not you. They are transient waves of experience that float in and out of your life. Never make decisions based on emotions. If your emotions are getting in the way of what you know yourself to be and the consistent action you know you must take, welcome the emotion but take that consistent action anyway.
- Document your progress. Get your scoreboard ready and measure where you started and start creating some milestones of where you’re going. Documenting your progress will let you know when you’re almost there.
- Celebrate that progress. As a recovered neurotic perfectionist, I’ve learned the power of progress over perfection. It’s okay that you’re hitting base hits, because base hits will inevitably win the game. There are no perfect people, only people who make progress. Be that person and celebrate the progress you’ve made.
- Systems, automation, and habits. Use your phone’s reminders to keep you on track, but do so realistically. Automate as much of your tasks as possible. For example, if you’re trying to save money, automate deposits to a special account for that thing you must have. Dollar cost average your investments. Use technology to help you create habits that get you more of the base hits to celebrate.
Consistency is only as good as you know yourself, so spend as much energy as you can on your value exploration. More on that soon.