If Consistency is King, then consider me the Queen ;)
But seriously... I'm really effing consistent and here's what I've learned from it.
A few years ago I qualified for a big CrossFit competition with a team of two other girls. There was a chance that I would have to handstand walk in the competition. Which I could NOT do. So I decided to learn.
Leading up to this competition, I would practice handstand walking every day I was at the gym. I even put little tape lines on the floor that designated my starting point and progressive best distances. So there were like 15 pieces of tape on the floor that had little dates and distances written on them so I could see my progress. (Which is really helpful, btw… if there’s a way for you to track and SEE progress over time, that can be super motivating to continue.)
I also hired a coach to write specific gymnastics focused programming for me that I could to try to be able to HS walk at the competition. It was challenging and totally outside of my comfort zone, but it was helpful!
As the workouts for the competition got announced, sure enough, there was handstand walking in it. But not just handstand walking where you accumulate the required distance… nope… there was a requirement that you HAD TO complete the walk in unbroken 10 foot chunks. GULP. That was not something I’d mastered yet (and even to this day 10 foot unbroken walks are not guaranteed!).
Overall, there was probably 5 months of handstand-related focus leading up to this competition. When the workout came, it included a bunch of rope climbs, a bunch of double unders (jump rope), and then each teammate had to do a 30 food HS walk…
AND I DID IT.
I remember completing each of the 10 foot sections successfully… and then I looked up at my friends in the stands, all of whom KNEW I had be working on this skill for months, and they cheered so loud and I actually put my hands together and did that little hand motion indicating success… haha, I have no idea how to explain that move, but I literally did this:
I felt amazing and very proud. It was literally the culmination of a lot of consistent hard work paying off when I needed it to.
And, although there wasn’t a specific competition that I was working towards after that, I continued to work on and include handstand practice in my fitness plans after that.
These days, I am by no means an expert at handstand stuff, BUT I could get myself through a workout where they’re required, AND I have a good enough base and knowledge of progressions to get inverted that I’m hosting a handstand workshop in a few weeks to help others. #HWPO ; )
In telling you this, I am NOT trying to brag or anything. Seriously. I am speaking to the merit of consistent work over time, finding ways to support yourself in growth (building things into your schedule, hiring a coach, getting an accountability buddy, etc.), and that we can’t just SAY we want to learn how to handstand walk, and never actually get upside down.
This story is just one example of consistency in my life.
When I really decide to work at something I do so consistently… almost to a fault.
There are pros and cons to this:
I usually make at least a little progress at whatever I’m working on.
I learn how to integrate habits into my routine that speak to what I’m working on. For example, getting my fitness in and eating well are pretty much non-negotiables at this point.
With consistent effort on many activities in my life, there are not many large swings that I have to come back from. For example, I’m a relatively consistent spender so I don’t typically have swings of debts and surpluses that impact my finances.
Consistent effort tends to compound on itself. More on this below.
It makes it really difficult for me to quit things, even if they’re not going well. I sometimes find myself just continuing to work at things, sometimes without any progress, just waiting for everything to fall in place… for too long.
I will sometimes opt to NOT complete required tasks, or put them off, to include some of those habits (For example, I sometimes put off actual work that I get paid to do just to go workout because the workout is a non-negotiable in my routine… this can be a positive and a negative.)
Similarly, in my past, I have let the consistency effort take precedent over other important values (family, work, sleep, etc)
It takes me a long time to learn some skills, so a lot of work is required!
I eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch almost every single day because I know it works for my food plan. This is a positive for me, but would be a con for many!
These pros and cons are mostly personal. But there is a general positive to consistent effort that I imagine is more universal.
Consistent effort compounds on itself.
I imagine you’re familiar with the idea of compounding interest? The fact that we continue to build interest on both our initial investments and on the added interest over time? That may not be the most appropriate financial language, but you get the idea.
A similar idea is likely true for your consistent efforts.
Let’s take fitness for example.
If you started a strength program today that included 3 workouts per week, you would not gain a significant amount of muscle in the first week. But, you would almost definitely see strength gains at the end of the first year. You may have shifted your lean muscle mass and body fat percentage to a more ideal spot for you. You may now be able to lift a certain amount of weight that you could not before.
And, if you continue to build on your program over time, even with “just” three days a week of work, you will likely continue to see results over time. Now, the muscle you build is admittedly different than in my compounding interest example, but byproducts of your work are the same… more lean muscle mass leads to a more efficient and higher metabolic rate. You protect yourself and your bones from injury as you age. You make it harder for yourself to lose the muscle mass and strength too, just by having it! You could even take time off from your strength program, and NOT have to start at zero when you picked it back up again, simply because of the consistent effort you started with.
To this point, the other day someone told me they were impressed with my performance in the CrossFit Open, especially given the fact that I “only” go to the gym 2 days a week. This is true, but I also do three days of shorter workouts/running at home! I certainly appreciate the compliment, AND I know that I am only able to perform well in an event like this because of the 10 prior years of consistent work and effort I’ve put into my fitness. Even though I’m not training at nearly the capacity that I used to, the base that I built is there and likely isn’t going away anytime soon!
I mean, heck, I really only got very good (or my best, at least!) at swimming my junior year of college… after 13 years of competing in the sport!
Here are the takeaways here:
Consistency really is king. If we continue to think about our efforts in fitness, nutrition, finances, work performance, etc, as temporary and not as things that we build into our lifestyles and habits that will not be nearly as effective as if we did.
Equally, making sure the things we’re consistently working on ARE ACTUALLY IMPORTANT to you is huge. This is one of the cons I mentioned above for me… I definitely have some things I include just because I think I should, and not because I think they’re actually important for me. Look at what cons come up around you consistent efforts and adjust as needed. I will work on this, too.
Which brings me to my next point, be reflective and audit yourself every once in a while. Your interest in or dedication to things may shift over time. Allow your efforts to shift as needed too. Also, there may be times when your consistent effort may not carry the same clout it once did, and at that point it makes sense to evaluate and adjust to form a new consistency.
Bottom line: Once you pick the thing you want to work on, commit to putting it into your schedule in a manner that fits your lifestyle (extreme approaches are hard to maintain and can lead to regression!), and stick with that approach for at least 2-3 months before you decide if it is or isn’t working. Continue to iterate from there.
And if you want any support in deciding what you’ll include in your consistencies, I’m definitely your girl. Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m here for you.
If you found this blog post or perspective helpful, please share it with others who may feel the same!
As always, thank you for reading and please share any comments or thoughts that you have!
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