Do you have a problem with consistency? I know I do. I often do not do what I know is best and even when I do, it is not in any kind of predictable pattern. Whether it’s working out, sleeping, or how I respond to disappointment, consistency is vital.
I want to be more consistent and I bet you do too, but I find myself being consistently inconsistent. Sometimes I allow distractions to disrupt any chance at being consistent and other times I simply lack the motivation to be consistent. Comparison might be the greatest cause of my inconsistency. I spend too much time thinking, “What would he do?” or “I should be doing what she’s doing,” rather than just being myself consistently.
Consistent is hard.
The problem with consistency is that you have to be consistent. Consistent is boring. Consistent is unromantic. Consistent is predictable. But we need consistent. Consistency produces peace of mind and perhaps the greatest benefit to consistency is that when you’re consistent, people know they can trust you. Consistency if life-giving.
Consistency is also key to progress. I hear leaders regularly ask how to gain momentum and how to reach the next level. Second only to the level of passion in the people at the top, a consistent strategy for delivery is perhaps the next most important piece to seeing progress. I recently heard pastor and author Jud Wilhite say, “Momentum is the great exaggerator…makes you look better than you are when you have it and worse than you are when you don’t.” Developing rhythms to consistently deliver leads to momentum in an organization and in life overall.
Here are four ingredients I have learned to be very important when striving for consistency.
The funny part of this conversation is that we often times lack consistency around needs that are never a surprise. There is not a day in my life I’m surprised that I have to eat multiple meals, but how often do you find yourself asking, “What am I going to eat for dinner?” at dinner time! If you’re like me, you run around all day every day addressing what feels like the most pressing need at any given moment. We respond to this email, get the kids to that practice, order a pizza because we didn’t plan for the known need of a meal. Like it was a giant surprise we were going to be hungry…again!
Consistency doesn’t happen accidentally. Start with the need and then work your way backward…from there to here. Set some goals. What steps will get you there? When and how will you take those steps? To extend the hunger illustration, you can plan to spend 30 minutes every Sunday afternoon planning your meals for the coming week. Then you make a grocery list according to the meals planned. Then you schedule when you will prepare the meals. All of a sudden, your hunger no longer puts you in a panic.
No! Say it with me now…no! Feels so good, doesn’t it?? Consistency is made much more difficult by more. Perhaps we lack consistency because we are simply trying to do or maintain too much? Getting rid of some stuff and declining activities or appointments will give you the ability to reorient those resources toward being more consistent. I’ve written in the past about the need to steward time well.
Tell a friend or colleague that you are trying to be more consistent. Then share with him or her the behavioral patterns you are planning to implement in order to achieve greater consistency. If he or she knows you well, then this person can help guide the whole process. You will be more likely to stick with the plans if you share them with others, rather than keeping them in your head.
Maybe we’re not consistent because we’re stretched too thin. Related to simplifying, we have to quiet our soul and create boundaries around our spirit. When we feel rundown, we think that we need a vacation, but real rest and rejuvenation is only found in a greater source of life. Jesus tells us, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” In Psalm 37, King David writes, “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him…” Rest is most rejuvenating when it is in the Lord. So how’s your soul and how are you consistently finding rest in the grace, mercy and love of God?
These are just a few considerations for being more consistent, delivering regularly, and gaining the trust of others. What are some ingredients that you have found helpful to gain greater consistency in your life?