“I begin to wonder how does Michal uphold his consistency … or don’t you have troubled moments at all, troubling enough to throw you off-balance for even a day?”
Consistency is the key to developing and sustaining habits. I would have chosen it over qualities like courage, grit or ability to focus, because without consistency they are not of much worth.
Let me present my four pillars to staying consistent:
My answer to her question is simple:
“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”
– Zig Ziglar
I’m driven. Some could even say I’m “obsessed”. Partly it’s because that’s my unique internal construction. But I don’t rely on my traits alone. For about a year, every day I’ve been using my first 30 minutes to fire up.
I look at my vision board.
I read the philosophy manifesto I wrote for myself; it’s incredibly motivating.
I read some passages from two books which have helped me shape that philosophy: The Science of Getting Rich and Manuscript on Purgatory. Both of them are focused primarily on personal growth. I think when I’m 40 I’ll know them by heart. Every day I also try to share my reflection on those passages in Lift. That way I retain them longer in the day, because I need to think on them once again.
While I do any purely manual activities (like drinking a glass of water or brushing my teeth) in the morning, I repeat my personal mission statement in my mind or I pray.
I know my mission statement by heart, although it’s over 1000 words long. No single thing in the universe motivates me more than my purpose.
I spend about 10 to 15 minutes on self-analysis. Usually I answer some thought provoking question about my plans, desires, pains, motivations, obstacles, dreams, doubts or beliefs. I do it 6 times a week as soon as possible, usually after my morning routine or at the office before starting work. It’s my substitute for meditation. I write everything down. On Sundays I read the entries from the past week.
That’s the motivational bundle of my habits. It takes me about 45 minutes each day. I “waste” almost an hour every day staying motivated. That’s my way to do the crazy amount of work for myself plus be a family man and sufficiently productive employee.
The second factor to my consistency is explained by this quote:
“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”
– Jim Rohn
I tricked even the man himself. I use habits to sustain motivation to get me started every day. But I also structured my work habits. I strive to make each component of my work a habit. I have writing habits, connecting habits, marketing habits and am developing my online presence habits.
I ingrained them into who I am. I can’t imagine not writing at least 400 words a day. That’s who I am—a writer. Writers write.
I track those habits every day. In fact, I have a habit of tracking the habits.
Supposedly, 45% of our behavior is subconscious automatic reactions. In other words, habits determine about half of our lives. So yes, they are important. They are even more important, when you think of staying consistent as the key factor in achieving results. You may have power over the other 55% of your reactions, but if you decide one thing one day and the other day something opposite, then in the long run you receive nothing. Habits compound their effects into something greater than particular parts.
I have quite an issue with setting and achieving goals, so I’m almost exclusively focused on my daily disciplines. I consider a goal without supporting habit a whim. Whenever I want to achieve something, I don’t focus on the end result; I look for ways to incorporate some daily discipline which supports this goal.
Another quote explains my next success factor:
“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.”
It’s fully compatible with the idea of habits shaping our lives. It also deals with the tendency to quit after failure. The normal cycle of (unreached) change looks like this:
You start a new venture, such as exercising regularly.
You start strong and enthusiastically.
Then life comes with its demands and you fail. It’s only normal and to be expected. You are at your lowest point regarding your abilities. Who is better at tennis—a pro player with a few championships behind him or an enthusiastic teenager who decided yesterday he wants to become a champion?
But you treat this failure all too personally. You decide you are a failure and quit, if not after the first failed attempt, then after the 10th.
Does a single failure in doing your habit mean that your goal has changed? Of course not! Will giving up bring you closer to your goal? Of course not!
What keeps me going is the constant adjustment process. When I fail, I don’t beat myself up, I get up and go back to work. Track your habits not for the sake of tracking, but to have material for analysis.
Did you fail? Fine. Now take the tracking data and ponder your solution. Do you lack the resources? How to get them? Do you lack knowledge? What do you need to study? Find a core issue and solve it. Get back on track.
I’m immune to my small failures. Each of them is just feedback for me. There is always tomorrow to catch up or simply adjust my tactics.
And there is the question of personal philosophy.
“Your personal philosophy is the greatest determining factor in how your life works out.”
– Jim Rohn
I assure you, you have one; everyone has. Some people, like me, just extracted it from the realm of ideas and thoughts they had written down. Others don’t realize they have one, like the “I love couch, beer and TV above all else” philosophy. Regardless, it still works in their life.
Get conscious about your philosophy. If it doesn’t support your long term purposes—fix it.
My personal philosophy 2 years ago was: “I do enough to get by and then enjoy my pleasures to forget about painful reality.”
At the end of 2012, I started to study personal development. I ditched the old philosophy entirely. I incorporated a lot of different elements into my personal philosophy, things like:
“I’m fully responsible for where I stand in life, right now and always.”
“The only real failure is to stop trying.”
“Nobody can replace me in my efforts to reach the life I want.”
“Work on my progress is the most important mission in my life.”
“There are no positive and negative events. Every experience adds to my progress.”
“God demands my personal growth to serve His goals, which I understand as ‘Love to all'”.
“Humanity is in the center of economic and social life. My role is to develop my humanity to the highest standards I’m capable of.”
“Not everything is attainable. But nothing is attainable when I do nothing.”
“There is only today to act.”
It’s just the top of the iceberg. There is much more to it, but it’s out of the scope of this post.
Those convictions shaped my attitude. Clearly I reacted totally differently when all I wanted was to get by. Thus my actions and my life look quite different now.
Change your philosophy
I didn’t come up with the idea of personal philosophy; I am not so wise. It’s the concept Jim Rohn is widely known for. He didn’t only state that personal philosophy shapes your life and your actions. He also said you can shape your philosophy.
Two years ago the above passages weren’t part of my worldview. But humans have free will and the most amazing minds in the universe. You can change the elements of your philosophy and, in the effect, change your actions, your life direction and its final destination.
When your philosophy is right, then staying consistent is easy.
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