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Our entire life is comprised of a series of conscious and unconscious habits that either lead us closer or further away from our desired success. If there’s one thing that keeps us far from our goals, it’s a lack of consistency.
Consistency is discipline’s most devoted friend.
This reliable tool doesn’t happen overnight. Rather, it takes time to build up a pattern of positive behavior.
While it was long believed that 21 days was all that was needed to form a new habit, current research shows that on average it takes 66 days, so you have to stick with your new behavior for about two months to make it last.
So how can you build positive behaviors into consistent habits so that they become second-nature? It starts with a steady routine.
Research shows that top athletes use consistent, positive routines to maximize their performance.
It helps them to focus on the factors they can control, narrowing in on the fundamental elements for success.
Whether you realize it or not, your entire life is filled with mini-routines from the time you wake up to the minute your head hits the pillow at night.
Over time, those mini-rituals switch to autopilot so you don’t give them a second thought. But complacency can be a dangerous thing.
Because those routines can either reinforce positive behaviors or perpetuate negative ones.
Do you start the day with calm purpose by having a few moments of quiet mediation? Or do you find yourself scrambling out of bed, rushing out the door to another day of stress?
Routines create consistency, but it’s important to step back and take a look at those routines to make sure you’re getting the intended result.
If they’re not, then adjust the rituals and routine that you follow, and you can begin to alter the outcome.
Putting things off until the future (tomorrow, next week, or next year) is the hallmark of procrastination.
However putting off tasks is its own form of routine, as this TED talk shows.
Not only does procrastination keep us from achieving goals in a timely manner, it eats away at the finite time we have to work toward what matters.
If procrastination is a problem for you, try going around it by setting hard deadlines for accomplishing what you want. Achieving small goals can lead to a new positive habit and consistent action.
Creating consistency is not an insurmountable task. Here are four steps you can take to create healthy routines that get you closer to your goals:
1. Get Honest About Your Priorities
Not sure where to start? Make a list of what you need to do or want out of life. Then honestly assess what is the most important (and why). When your sense of purpose is strong enough, you’ll start taking action steps.
2. Focus On One Thing at a Time
When you are being pulled in numerous directions at once consistency is much more difficult. Our brains are hardwired to pay attention to only a select amount of stimulus at a time. Narrow in on one task, and try these steps for improved focus.
3. Create Mini-Routines
Creating consistency starts with the smallest effort outside your comfort zone. If you’ve never worked out and you’re committing to spending an hour at the gym six days a week, you’re more likely to give up than if you start with smaller sessions that gradually build toward your goal.
4. Believe in Yourself
Human beings rely heavily on their internal dialogue. The problem with this is that almost all of us fall into a negative-thinking loop that sabotages our efforts. Notice when your mind begins to fall into self-doubt. Try meditation and other affirmations to build your confidence.