There’s something you want to achieve. There’s that skill you want to get better at, or that aspect of your life you want to improve. Setting personal or professional goals is common. Achieving them, unfortunately, is not. But it only takes mastering one skill to get you where you’ve always wanted to be.
I started this blog by writing whenever I felt like it. A burst of creativity would strike on a Saturday morning, after downing a mug of strong coffee. Sometimes I felt compelled to spill words onto a page just before bed, afraid I might loose them if I closed my eyes to sleep. I created content on an inconsistent basis, always unsure whether I’d be able to scrounge together enough bits for a blog post each week.
Then I set a time and a place where I could commit to putting words on paper every day (okay, just Monday-Friday), even if they weren’t the best words. I started writing every day at 7:30am.
The One Skill
The one skill you need to become better at something is consistency. You need to show up everyday and do the work- especially when you don’t feel like it.
When I started writing every day at 7:30am, I became a better writer. Some mornings I would spit words out like I never wanted to see them again, but soon enough I found ways to transform those same words into sentences, and sentences into blog posts that I wanted to gobble back up.
By building a morning ritual that I didn’t have to think about, consistency became easier- it was just a part of my routine.
Why It’s Not Easy
Except, it’s not that easy. There will be days when you don’t feel like showing up. If you resolve to study for a standardized test each day after school, there will be days when you’d rather read your car’s operation manual than open that textbook. If you declare a new gym regimen, there will be workouts you don’t feel like finishing. When it’s time to write, there will be words that escape you, sentences that betray you, blog posts that are so terrible they’ll never see the light of day.
But stepping up in exactly these moments, these annoying or painful spurts that are bound to pierce any new regimen, that’s what will propel you exponentially toward success.
Why It’s Worth It
You’ll never look back on days, months, or years of consistent effort and regret it. You won’t regret committing to what you’re passionate about instead of merely saying you have a passion.
Your goal is too important to simply work on it when it’s convenient. It deserves consistent attention in your routine, even if that means giving up something else (like those extra 10 minutes of sleep no one remembers anyway). Consistency is about turning your goals into your reality.
How To Be Consistent
1. Decide what your goals are
Take some time to figure out exactly what you are working for and why. This sounds obvious, but the purpose behind your consistent practice is the foundation to achieving your goals. If you gain some clarity about your “why” in addition to your “what”, getting whatever that is will become much easier.
2. Set a schedule based on actions
Set a schedule based on steps you can take to achieve your goal, not the goal itself. Don’t strive for a certain score on your practice test or a certain amount of weight loss. “Get a 340 on the GRE” is not a step you can take. “Study two chapters every day” is a step you can take in pursuit of that overall goal. Worry about showing up every day- don’t worry about the results just yet.
3. Stick to your schedule for three days
Don’t think about how hard it will be to follow a schedule for a month or a year. Just follow it for the next couple of days. Tomorrow, don’t let any distractions stop you from taking that one step at that time you’ve set. Then do it the next day, and the next.
Feeling good on day four? Keep going.
4. Make it FUN!
It’s important to somewhat enjoy the process, or you will never be consistent enough to see the results. Head to a new café to study, try a new workout class, light some candles and listen to music while you write (and, coffee). You’ll need plenty of backup on those inevitable days that you feel like stopping.
How I’m Doing This
- My goal is to become a better writer, food photographer, and cook. I want to achieve these goals because writing brings me satisfaction, photography is essential to this site, cooking is the greatest joy in my world and I’d love to inspire you to create delicious meals too. I want nothing more than to help you daily, in life and in the kitchen.
- My schedule is simple: I write every morning at 7:30am, Monday through Friday. I publish one new blog post every Wednesday on this site.
- I started this schedule on a Monday. Then I did it on Tuesday, then again on Wednesday. Two months later, it’s still not easy to show up, but at least it is a consistent part of my routine.
- To make writing a little more interesting, I turned my bedroom into a space I enjoyed- string lights, plenty of photos, scented candles, and a softly-lit lamp. Writing is a lot more fun when you’re in an environment you love.
You Are Not Alone
Share your goals with your friends and family (and me!!) and, not only will you be held accountable, but you’ll gain a few cheerleaders to push you on those days you don’t feel like sticking to your schedule.
You and I are both looking to improve in some way; you wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t. Maybe we want to become stronger or healthier, more creative, more skilled, better friends or family members. We’re in this together and I’d love to help you however I can.
What goals are you working towards?