When one is struggling to get the job done in any given activity or endeavour, then consistency and discipline are the number one “codes of behaviour” you must adopt to reach that specific goal. Check with any entrepreneur, any self-made businessman or any self-improvement coach and the first advice you will get from them is that you must be fully consistent and disciplined, in case you want to reach the top 1%.
And while this apply mostly to business, it can also be extended to any activity of your life, in which you want to get better and improve. Let us look at some examples:
You have always dreamt to be a virtuous guitar player, whose skills and performance would almost match up with the ones of your musical references such as Hendrix, Clapton or Page. You know you have talent and also a good ear, but you know better than anybody that it is not enough. So not only you hire a private teacher to help you perfecting your technique but you also join a local band, whom you can play every weekend with. And you keep practising every day, until your fingers bleed, just to start all over again on the next day.
But let us say your biggest dream is to speak Spanish like Javier Bardem. You love the language, its accent and how the words sound. In addition, you have always had a fondness for the Spanish culture and history, including how it spread to the American continent. And of course, you also have the fetish of the Latinas, so you want to communicate with them in their mother tongue, in other that you reach the most attractive ones (who rarely speak English). So instead of just going to a couple of classes per week, you enrol in an intensive course, you find a tandem partner to practise every Saturday and you also make sure you keep the Spanish television tuned every evening while you have dinner.
Or maybe you just want to become the next Mr. Universe. Or at least, to get as leaner and ripped as you can, in order that you not only feel good with yourself but also impress girls when you take your t-shirt off. So you know that hitting the gym like all your friends do won’t do shit. You know you have to lift hard and take it really serious. Basically, you need to treat it as a second job, where failure is not an option. So you stick to your five trainings per week, plus a strict diet plan and nights spent with a good rest in bed. Your friends call you boring and claim that life is much more than just your body, but you do not care, because you know it is the only way to get results.
The above situations are pure examples of what it is to apply consistence and discipline with no excuses, in order that you achieve your goals. Basically, there is no other option than to follow what you have set for yourself, where everything else is a big distraction, an irrelevant white noise in the background.
And this is indeed the way only to succeed: in such a competitive world, where many are trying and struggling for the same thing, congesting markets and tempting possible prospects and customer with endless possibilities, you will only stand out if you present results in a consistent way.
And while this in theory is indeed the only way, the reality can be a total different beast.
The dangerous trap
When you set goals for yourself and decide to embark on a trip to fulfil them, everything else is put in the background. You stop looking at the big picture, just to fully focus on the small daily tasks which will lead you, eventually, to the big yearly victories. And by doing this, your consistence and discipline applied on a certain area of your life will soon become a habit, the key element to success.
So these habits start to be a part of your life which will then be deployed in automatic pilot, where you fulfil your tasks everyday. But this can also become your biggest trap and where the problem resides.
Let me give you a clear instance of what I am trying to explain:
For many years, I was going to the gym with the objective of gaining muscle mass to get bigger. As I was also doing Capoeira and Karate five times per week, lifting weights was the perfect anaerobic complement, since I would then gain the extra strength and power necessary to perform better and faster in both martial arts.
So not only I was not missing a workout (I was going three times per week) but I was really dedicated to it, buying the necessary supplements and applying the training recommendations the trainers were giving me.
However, I had absolutely no idea of what I was doing! And while their help at the gym was useful, they were not my personal trainers, so there were many times which they were not exactly paying attention to what I was doing (actually, I did not want that either, as I was wanted to be independent while training).
And so I kept applying my methods for many years in a row and, even if I was lean as hell – as I was doing a lot of both martial arts plus that I have a very thin structure – I was not getting the results I wanted. Until I then started reading and informing myself on this topic and eventually reached a point where I got much more satisfied with my body. Had I not made a switch some when in time and today I would perhaps be in the same underachieved form as I was back when I was around 25 years old.
The crucial review on the state of things
There are some conclusions one may draw from the above story but I would like to highlight the most important ones:
First, understand that a habit is the KEY to every successful endeavour, so you have indeed to create them in order that you achieve your goals. However, if you create the habit of going three days per week to McDonald’s, even if you take care of your body in the other four days, then you are just being totally incongruous.
So but maybe you say: ok, so I have read that McDonald’s is harmful for my health and that salads with tomato, corn and lettuce are the perfect substitute for it. So you suddenly start eating salad everyday, while you keep hitting the gym four or five times per week, hard and committed.
It may look great in paper but the reality is that you are not achieving the physique you want, far from that! But somehow you keep doing it, just because you truly believe that you are on the right track.
But the fitness example does not convince you? Ok, so let us say that you start a new job, where you have to do some analysis, benchmarking and comparisons in a specific market. From the beginning you create some models and charts using Microsoft Office and in one year from now, you do it almost automatically, anytime the competitors launch new products. However, by any reason, the sales of your company keep being just average, and neither you nor anyone in the commercial department understands why. After all, you are a professional who has been doing these comparisons everyday for a year already, so there must be other factors which have nothing to do with your work.
But what you overlooked from the beginning was to add certain factors which also influence the market and you though they did not. And it is only after you attending a workshop on industrial marketing that you understand that your analysis have just been too simplistic.
So basically doing the same thing for many years does not make you a specialist. In the limit, it will only make you used to it.
That is why you must stop once in a while and assess your results. I am not say a week or even one month after, but eventually 3 or 6 months are the perfect time frame to check whether you are indeed on the right track.
You started hitting the gym to gain more muscle but after 3 months you have only increased 1kg of your body weight? Time to change the way you train and to eat more, my friend.
You have started a business which has been doing fine from the beginning so you keep applying the same winning formula? Well, except that some new guys appeared and soon will totally burst your online product so, if you do not start creating something new or refreshing your marketing strategy, soon your sales will be close to zero and you will be just blaming SEO and google.
You go out every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, hitting as many bars and clubs as you can and approaching women like a champ. But somehow, in 95% of the cases, you simply go home empty-handed and with empty pockets. “Hey, but sometimes I am not just lucky or the club is packed with too many guys”. You have a point here and can actually have plenty of influence in your results. But most likely scenario is that you are just using the same strategy of getting drunk and approaching “cold” every night, when you should actually meet some bouncers and barmen of some cool bars and stick to them.
I could go over and over about more examples but I believe you have gotten the point. If you go fish everyday a whale with a fishing rod, you will arrive home everyday with just the rod and with nothing to feed your family. So understand that using the same tools over and over again may not make you proficient on a specific matter. So in case you do not see clear results after a while, stop and turn your wheel into another direction.