The case for consistent, imperfect action
If I’ve learned anything this year, it’s that consistency is key
I know… Captain Obvious reporting for duty. But is it really that obvious?
I had an epiphany early this year during a money archetype (think “money personality”) class I took from Denise Duffield-Thomas.
One of my archetypes is the Maverick, and one of the challenges of that archetype is the tendency to be great at the idea creation and dreaming, but not so great at the mundane daily activities it takes to bring an idea to fruition.
Well. That explains that then.
As much as I nerd out on personal development and organizing my life, I wouldn’t consider myself the type of person who is naturally good at taking small, consistent actions towards a particular goal over a long period of time.
Diving in head first and figuring it out on the way down? I’m spectacular at that. I’m great at acting fast, and I like to see quick results from my actions.
I also (I hate admitting this) tend to struggle with focusing on things that don’t grab my interest.
Monotonous, not-necessarily-immediately-rewarding things like exercising regularly? Meh.
I logically knew running and blogging consistently were good for my health and visibility, but I always seemed to wander off somewhere around Day 4 of the same ol’ same ol’.
In turn, I wasn’t seeing the progress I wanted to see in parts of my life.
Because life is the sum of the small things you do on the regular
Your life doesn’t change only as a result of the big days. Launches and weddings and marathons are great, but they don’t happen out of nowhere.
To have a successful launch, you need to be taking consistent weekly actions to build a list, nurture that list, and create a great product.
To get to the wedding, you need to be intentional about the daily things you’re doing in the relationship.
To run the marathon you start by running one minute, then two, then slowly more. Week after week.
The seemingly insignificant things you do regularly are what create the big days you remember.
So you have to be sure to consistently do what matters to you
Most of us go through our days putting out fires, managing emails, consuming social media, and getting done the things other people need from us.
It’s easy to skimp on the things that might actually move the needle, however slowly, in our own lives. Especially when those things may not have an immediate and noticeable reward.
But I’ll tell you at the end of what’s been a year of cultivating consistency in all the areas of my life; it really is the key.
You can’t help but make progress when you’re taking regular steps forward.
Small, consistent action beats perfection every time
All the changes I’ve made this year are changes I’ve tried to make in the past. Repeatedly.
It’s changes most of us have tried to make. Working out regularly, building in more creative time, growing our businesses to reach the people we can help the most.
The difference this year is I started setting better goals. I focused on being consistent instead of being perfect. I decided I would be happy if I exercised my body five minutes every day, and my desire to move more naturally grew from there.
It’s been the same in other areas - putting out new content here every two weeks, completing two daily drawing challenges and a third starting now.
The goals started out as small and actionable, things that could be done in five minutes on a busy day. The consistency was the real goal, and the consistency creates progress.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
Because if you do something consistently you will see change
That’s the fundamental truth here, and the whole point. When you take small actions consistently, things can’t help but begin to change.
Your drawing will improve, your income will go up, your thighs will be stronger.
You likely won’t see those results by taking action once a month, or even once a week though.
You won’t see them immediately either, that’s the kicker.
You have to develop an almost stubborn dedication to doing the thing, without the instant reward of noticeable growth. Even (especially) when you don’t feel like it.
It might help to look for smaller signs that you’re going the right direction. Feeling less like puking after a two minute run is absolutely an accomplishment worth celebrating.
An accountability buddy wouldn’t be a bad idea either.
But I promise you that a year from now, when you look back at where you started, you’ll be amazed at the difference you’ve made in your day to day.
All you because you let yourself take consistent, imperfect action.