I don’t know about you, but I struggle to be consistent, especially when it comes to making changes, building new habits, and going after my long term goals. I start strong — all of my energy goes into nailing down the perfect routine, hitting the KPI’s I have set for myself, ensuring all efforts made are exhaustive and perfect…
As you might have guessed, it usually doesn’t last.
I tend to bite off more than I can chew, set unreasonably high expectations for myself and get really frustrated when the results don’t come over night. Predictably, I have a hard time staying motivated and, more importantly, disciplined, when I get myself into this mindset. My ability to be consistent goes right out the window along with any progress that had been made.
Because I am really tired of finding myself in that position time after time, and because I KNOW I am far from the only person who struggles to be consistent and show up for themselves day after day even when it’s not perfect or pretty, I thought I would share some of the things that have helped me in recent months.
If you struggle to be consistent, here are 6 tips that have helped me:
1. Start Small
This is synonymous with ‘make it achievable’. Big goals are great, but they can also be really overwhelming AND difficult to measure progress toward (at least in the early days). By breaking a goal into smaller, component parts, you can make something that may feel insurmountable or out reach, far more manageable. Additionally, you can set clear milestones for yourself and plan treats as you reach your mini goals.
This has really been an essential step for me. I don’t have it worked out perfectly, but any time I have been able to make a lasting change, it has been down to the fact that I was able to focus on taking things one day at a time.
Placing the emphasis on incremental, one percent shifts toward my goals — what ever they may be — not only keeps me feeling empowered, but also provides a sense of accomplishment on a daily basis. Positive reinforcement is key.
2. Hold Yourself Accountable
Ultimately, you are the only who can decide to show up for yourself. So that time you’ve booked in to work on that goal you have or that habit you want to build? That’s YOUR time. It’s sacred. And you get to choose whether you cancel on yourself or make that time a priority. There’s no real way around it. You’re in control and the choice is yours.
I frequently find that I need to give myself mini pep talks when I’m starting to feel frustration, self-doubt, and a whole host of other unproductive feelings and emotions creep up on me. The appointments and promises I make with myself are the ones I tend to let go of first and that’s not how progress is made.
So, in the moments when I feel like cancelling or giving up, I look inward and ask what reason I have to make something else more of a priority. And, unless I’m ill or have something unexpectedly urgent to attend to, I show up for myself.
3. Be Patient
When it comes to consistency, patience for and trust in the process seem to be two of the biggest obstacles. We often have expectations about how long something should or shouldn’t take, which fuels comparison and a distrust of the journey we’re on, particularly when we’ve determined that we’re falling short in some way.
But, here’s the thing, it’s not a race and there is nothing to win, so that person you’re worried might be ‘beating’ you is really just a distraction and drain on your energy, which won’t make your plans for consistency any more achievable.
I am SO guilty of looking to other people’s experiences to gauge the validity and value of my own. Comparison lacks nuance and only serves to fuel impatience if I look to others to determine how far along I should or shouldn’t be on my own journey. Guess what? Change takes time and has nothing to do with anyone else. When I can keep the focus on me, I can find patience in the process.
4. Be Your Own Advocate
Easier said than done, BUT when you feel yourself crashing emotionally, mentally, physically, try to be intentional about taking a deep breath, silencing negative thoughts and interrupting whatever you’re doing with something that is affirming, energy-giving, up-lifting. In my experience, this helps stop a spiral in its tracks and makes it far more likely that you’ll be able to show up for yourself in the way you want to later.
It takes a lot of mental discipline to advocate for myself when I feel my brain spiralling. It’s something I have to practice everyday, but I’m getting better at it. Things that currently help me: working out, colouring, getting fresh air, talking to my partner, writing about it (click here for more ways to self-care).
Taking a 20 minute break to do one or more of these activities when I feel myself crashing may feel like a distraction in the moment, but it can make all of the difference when it comes to preserving my mindset and ensuring I am able to show up for myself later.
5. Quit Perfectionism
To my fellow perfectionists out there, remember that you are not going to smash life every single day. And that’s not just normal, it’s intrinsically human. To be consistent, you HAVE to be okay with showing up on your best days and your worst (unless you’re injured, in need of rest, space, etc.).
So, give yourself a talking to, manage your own expectations, do what you gotta do, but be willing to put in the work even when it’s not your finest. At the end of the day, you’ll be glad you made the effort.
Again, this has been a BIG one for me. I am queen of quitting on myself when the outputs aren’t to my standard. In fact, I would argue nothing more consistently keeps me from being consistent than my own perfectionistic tendencies. Needless to say, I am actively working on embracing ‘average’ so that no matter how it looks, my mood on the day, whether or not I ‘want to’, I can still show up and do my best. It doesn’t have to be my best ever, just my best in that moment.
6. Harness the Power of Your Mind
This might sound cheesy BUT, you can do ANYTHING for 20 minutes and chances are you’ve done WAY harder things in the past. On days when I’m REALLY struggling to keep promises I have made to myself, I dig deep and commit to just 20 minutes of that thing I said I was going to do that I no longer feel like doing.
If it’s a workout, if it’s a book I’m reading, if it’s a project I’m working on — I remind myself that it is NOT even close to the hardest thing I have ever done. Then, I think about all of those hard things I have ever done in an emotional, mental montage and I realise HOLY SHIT I CAN DO THIS.
Running through some of my toughest challenges, empowers me to face whatever I want to run away from with courage and gusto. Not only is it a great mental exercise to do when I’m in a pinch, but it also means I’m more likely to show up for myself tomorrow and the day after because I am reminded that I can do hard things.
I hope you found this blog post insightful! All of these tips have made a big difference in my life, so please let me know if they help you too x Don’t forget to subscribe and, as always, leave me a comment if you have questions or would like to suggest a topic for a blog post.