Society has led us to believe that to achieve consistency, the key is never to miss. That means never missing a workout, eating “unhealthy foods, or missing a deadline. No matter what you are doing, you must be perfect if you want to be consistent.
Consistency doesn’t equal perfection
This “ never miss” mentality is not the secret to consistency. It is the secret to failure. Never is an all-encompassing word that shows little compassion, understanding, or room for growth.
Yet, it is how we learn to operate. We start a new workout routine, are committed, show up without missing for weeks, and then something happens. Perhaps you are too tired from work or going through something difficult in your personal life or even an injury. You skip a workout.
Failure looms above your head. I missed everything I worked for is gone because it wasn’t perfect.
The Secret to Consistency
Here is where the real secret to consistency comes in. It’s not about never missing; it’s about not missing twice. That’s sustainable. That’s giving yourself room to breathe and be human. We don’t miss twice because we create a pattern.
My experience with consistency
I’ll use myself as an example. In 2023, I set myself a goal to run every week at least once. I started with a realistic plan I knew I could accomplish even when my motivation was nowhere to be found.
I was doing great, getting in two or even three weekly runs. I could feel myself getting faster and being able to cover longer distances. I was so happy with my progress.
Then, one week after, I ran 10 kilometers, my longest distance this year. I was swamped with work, and I didn’t run.
I’m not going to lie. According to society’s definition of consistency, I failed. Then, I took a moment and remembered my definition. As soon as I realized I had missed once, I panicked and felt like a failure.
The following week every single day went by, I thought about running, but I felt heavy and slow. I didn’t want to. It had been so long since my last run. Before I knew it was Sunday, this was my last chance. I had only missed once; I had an opportunity, a choice: to make this a pattern or not.
I took stock of the resources available to me to make running more manageable for me:
- Enlist help and support from people close to me
- Pick a good running location
- Select a playlist that I would find motivating
I put on my running shoes, and I went out. I put one foot in front of the other. Yes, I felt heavy and slow at first. But, soon after, I felt exhilarated and full of energy. The support, the music, and the beautiful day filled me with energy. I didn’t create a pattern; I chose to run. That thought pushed me all the way.
How to apply in everyday life
Remember that feelings and thoughts are not facts. We often believe what our inner voice tells us without questioning it, and unfortunately, that inner voice can be pretty critical.
My inner voice was telling me that I was a failure for missing. I wasn’t a failure, far from it. Yet I could catch it and realize that it wasn’t correct.
When these feelings and thoughts pop up, create awareness around them and find evidence that proves them wrong. This will develop more compassion for yourself and allow you to continue to grow and foster more positive thoughts and feelings about yourself.
Tiara HoqueePsychologist and Emotional Intelligence Coach