Consistency

“Karl Marx was wrong when he claimed religion was the opium of the people but only because Netflix hadn’t been invented yet.”

I still don’t get why people are so surprised that the tortoise beat the rabbit in Aesop’s Fable; in my experience, consistency always pays off over the long run.

Consistent effort, no matter how small, sparks magic, fills sails, turns tides, instils faith, summons friends, improves health, yields understanding, builds courage, spins planets, and rewrites destinies.

Success, any kind of success is through slow, deliberate decisions and accepting that there’s not a straight line from point A to point Z. That your path, in hindsight, will at the very least look like a sailing boat tacking & jibing across the sea or in the extreme, like the flight path of a bumble bee. But it doesn’t matter – because you always know where ‘Z’ is, so by being consistent, and consistently applying positive, life-affirming habits you know you’ll always get ‘there’. It’s just a case of keeping going until you do i.e., being consistent.

So how come we’re not all capable of achieving our objectives, life-long dreams or aspirations? Because consistently growing, or evolving, is bloody painful and most people simply choose not to do it. It means accepting every day that there’s stuff you don’t know, that you must embrace each day with child-like humility and deal with frustration, failure and rejection. Every time you face up to these challenges or obstacles, they contain a lesson. Taking a leaf from the original Stoic, Marcus Aurelius, you’ll see the obstacle is the way. The difference with most people is that they often see just a dead-end and not a hurdle to overcome – and with that defeatist attitude, reach for the remote and settle for ‘average’.

But you must apply the right kind of consistency, or as I always see it, be effective, not efficient. You can be efficient, repeat the same behaviour or action really well but not move forward. Like a beautifully-made wristwatch, you consistently and accurately keep time but you’re still going around the same circle every 12 hours. For example, I heard a forty-something man moaning about a young upstart at his company who’d leapfrogged him up the corporate totem pole. ‘Don’t they realise, I’ve got 20 years of experience?‘ he moaned. ‘Don’t you realise what you’ve actually got is one year of experience repeated twenty times?‘ I thought to myself, knowing he’d never pushed, I mean really pushed himself beyond his comfort zone.

So few people apply consistent growth or learning in their lives, choosing to ease back into comfort than push forward into growth. Maslow said ‘You can either step forward into growth or backwards into security.’ Growth means learning, working, doing, creating, failing. Comfort means stability, predictability, instant gratification, stasis, always succeeding but only because you’ve set the bar too low.

Being consistent in the ‘right’ way means often taken the path less trodden, zagging when everyone else is zigging, getting up and going to sleep early – contrary to what friends & family may do and expect of you. It means setting goals every day, every week, every month and every year and then looking at those goals every single day. Asking yourself, ‘Does this help me get closer to my goal?’ If the answer’s ‘yes’ then great – do it! If the answer’s ‘no’ then don’t.

But don’t expect everyone to understand, agree or even like your choices. It’s about spending time on your goals, plans and ambitions in the evening and weekend when most people are increasing the indentations on their couches and binging on pizza and boxsets. Karl Marx was wrong when he claimed religion was the opium of the people but only because Netflix hadn’t been invented yet.

It’s important to know why you’re doing something as it can get lonely and it most definitely gets tough – I’m pretty sure that’s why all the successful people I’ve met have pictures of their loved ones (cars count) on their desks. Consistently choosing small positive actions and steps every single day will add to your continued growth and success – think of it like compound interest for your personal development. The fact is that willpower alone is not enough – it is almost certain to end in failure. Consistent habits, small and often, are what’s going to get you to the (perceived) finish line – like Aesop’s tortoise.

The greatest joy isn’t standing around the coffee machine discussing last night’s game, or at least it shouldn’t be. It should be about seeing where you are (or what you have) and where you want to be (or what you want to have) and relish that great big canyon between ‘here‘ and ‘there‘. Consistency is what gives you the grit and determination to build a bridge one brick or knot at a time. Consistency gives you the succour when you realise you’ve still got a long way to go but feel deadbeat – it’s a default setting to keep you going. Consistency is that neat little tool on your Leatherman that you can always rely on to get a job done.

Applying consistency to your life can work wonders. Whether you’re trying to find love, lose weight or become financially wealthy; plotting an end goal, breaking the journey into smaller expeditions then consistently apply yourself to the journey can and will bring its rewards. The fact is, nothing is meant to stagnate and everything is meant to grow and flourish. Find the courage to break from the herd – if you really want to do something with your life who are they to discourage or mock you? ‘Go confidently in the direction of your dreams!‘ as Thoreau said, they are, after all, your dreams; why allow anybody else, and I mean anybody, steal the opportunity from you to live your most complete existence?

By way signing off, I’ll quote my favourite author – Ernest Hemingway, who said ‘The first draft of anything is shit.‘ Thanks for getting this far – I’m sure your time is important to you.

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