By Justin Wright
While we recently discussed the importance of disrupting your routine, I wanted to also emphasize how critical it is that we are consistent in our thoughts and actions. The world is naturally unpredictable; events can transpire without any forewarning, the global landscape is constantly evolving, and our daily lives are riddled with spontaneous outcomes that we often can’t control. Through this turmoil, it is important that we regularly act in a manner that can withstand the chaos of life.
Sometimes being predictable, as you will see, is not a bad thing. We want other people in our lives to know what they can expect from us. Our reputation is a key factor in many of our interactions, and this reputation is directly based on the actions we regularly take. What do people say about you when you are not around? This is a question we should regularly ask ourselves, and one that can be answered by what we repeatedly do.
Fortunately, consistency can occur while still being uncomfortable and challenging ourselves. Being consistent with our actions is more about how we want to be perceived; it is about making a choice of what character traits, virtues, and standards we hold ourselves to pursuing. Defining and fighting for these standards help us act in line with our ideal self, with the type of person we want to become in the future.
What are your values?
The first question you must ask yourself revolves around your values. What are the things that are most important to you? What aspects of your character stand out more than others? Do you value honesty and loyalty? Do you value hard work? Digging deeper into what makes you the person you are, or the person you want to become, is the first step in building consistency with your thoughts and actions.
These questions are directly related to finding your “why” or your purpose. They are the threads that weave through the tapestry of your life. If you haven’t defined what matters to you, what values you hold above others, then you cannot possibly act in line with those values. Every individual must define their own personal code: a set of rules for how they handle certain situations based on the core values which are most important to them. Once you have defined this moral code, developing consistency with your actions becomes a logical next step.
“We are what we repeatedly do.” is the start of a famous quote by Will Durant (and often attributed to the famous philosopher, Aristotle). Our actions determine our reality. Once we define our values, our goal should be to regularly act in line with those values. By doing so, we can mold our mental, physical, and emotional identities to represent the character traits we find most important.
The mental pillar
How does consistency affect our mental health and our overall mindset? As we have discussed previously, developing habits is crucial to accomplishing long-term goals. By regularly taking actions, we ingrain them into our subconscious and it becomes easier to repeat these actions. When the actions you take, and the habits you develop, are in line with your values, then you are making measurable progress towards your ideal self. The more you act in line with this ideal self, the more closely you represent that reality.
The mental pillar may be the most critical in developing consistency. We must form positive habits and develop routines in order to remain consistent in other areas. This all starts with the mind and requires a conscious effort towards improvement. Goals inherently require a desire for this self-development; we must work on ourselves first if we are to accomplish anything meaningful.
The added benefit of focusing on good habits and consistent thought is that we become more resilient to the chaos of life. The unpredictable nature of the world around us can be an added source of stress or anxiety for many people. If you have established your moral code and have a series of rules by which you choose to act, dealing with this unpredictability becomes remarkably easy. While the variables may change, you will understand and know how to handle these fluid situations.
At their core, the values and principles we create for ourselves fall almost solely under the mental pillar. Everything starts with a conscious decision about the type of person we want to be. Once this decision is made, we can then develop consistency on the physical and emotional fronts as well.
The physical pillar
When it comes to our physical health, consistency is often the sole factor responsible for success or failure. If you make the conscious decision to be a healthier person, what naturally follows is a number of additional lifestyle changes to support this choice. It is impossible to be physically healthy while maintaining an irregular exercise schedule or while failing to eat healthy foods on a routine basis. From a physical standpoint, we are confronted with a number of decisions each day that directly affect our health and wellness for good or for bad.
Consistency trumps all other factors when it comes to reaching your physical goals, or becoming the healthiest version of yourself. A study published in the International Journal of Obesity determined that adherence to a diet had a more dramatic effect on weight change than any specific diet studied. It matters more that you are regularly eating in line with your diet than what types of foods you are eating, or what exact diet you are following.
The same can be said when it comes to physical exercise. Frequency, and thus total volume, of work output each week has a more dramatic effect than the specific exercises performed. Every training program relies on commitment and routine. You can’t expect to run a marathon if you haven’t worked through the incremental training along the way.
Exercise relies on the principle of adaptation: as we experience stress (in this case exercise), our bodies respond by adapting to that stress. Once this adaptation occurs, the stress must be increased to drive further adaptation. Lack of consistency with physical exercise will negatively impact adaptation in two ways: the stress is inconsistent and thus adaptation will not occur in the first place and, even if it does, there will not be enough increased stress to promote future adaptation from training.
Thus far we have touched on two pillars that affect us almost entirely from an internal standpoint; our mental and physical health are uniquely experienced by us and do not directly alter the outside world. What about consistency with regards to the human experience, to our interactions with others? Gaining a greater understanding of the emotional pillar can shed light on this situation.
The emotional pillar
Human interaction is a key aspect of our lives that we cannot ignore. Unless you are a cast-member on one of Discovery Channel’s shows about the Alaskan frontier, you will need to find ways to effectively interact, and communicate, with those around you. When it comes to these relationships, consistency is a key factor on both the personal and professional fronts.
Consistency breeds trust; trust is developed when our actions consistently meet the expectations of those around us. Trust is also developed from transparency, and both of these things will impact our personal and professional relationships. With consistent actions, people can learn to rely on us; this reliance is crucial for fostering strong relationships in all categories.
If your friends can rely on you to be present when needed, to show up when you say you will, to be available in any capacity, then this consistency in your actions will bolster these relationships. We want to be able to rely on our friends and family when we need the help of others. As we have discussed in the past, there is no such thing as a “self-made man” in the modern world; we all need the help and assistance of others on occasion. Being someone who can be relied upon is a positive character trait that we should all aspire to have.
In a professional sense, humans like to do business with people they can trust. This is why referrals are so important when it comes to acquiring new clients. How often do you first check the customer reviews on a product before you order it off Amazon? This is tied to consistency: we trust and accept the feedback of others so that we know what to expect from a company we are ordering products or services from. When given the choice between something with 5-star reviews or something with no reviews, how many of you can honestly say you would roll the dice?
When it comes to the emotional pillar, trust is critical for fostering our interactions and relationships with others. Strong personal relationships are founded in trust and require this transparency to grow. If you can’t be honest and fully transparent with your friends, you likely can’t do it with anyone. From a business standpoint, track records and reputations matter. All of these things require consistent, positive action to develop. If you are not consistent, then you cannot be trusted; the outside world will be less likely to interact with you if they don’t know how you will act in any given situation.
Consistent action yields consistent results
Whether we are trying to develop mentally, physically, or emotionally it becomes critical that we use consistent action as a driver for progress. If your thoughts and actions align and follow similar patterns then your results will also be similar. Your habits today will determine your reality 5 months or 5 years down the road. If you want to be successful, you need to focus on the consistent actions required for that success. Whether you are trying to develop mental resilience, forge physical strength, or build trust in your business partnerships, consistency is the thread that weaves it all together.