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How to Take Consistent Action: 7 Powerful Tips


Image by vramak (license).

“In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently.”
Anthony Robbins

Maybe the biggest problem people have when trying to improve something in their lives is that they never take much action at all.

Perhaps the second biggest problem is that they don’t take consistent action over a longer time period.

Now, consistency isn’t really the sexiest or most exciting word in personal development. But it is, coupled with time, what will give you real results in your life. Sticking with the program and doing something consistently – and not just when you feel inspired or something like that – is very, very powerful.

To me it’s also – at least at the moment – one of the most frustrating parts of personal development. Some days go great. Some days really don’t. Quite a few days wind up somewhere in between.

I’ve been able to become more consistent in many areas and there is no thing as perfection where every day is plain awesome. So no point in striving for some illusory perfection in any part of life. And variation and setbacks are stimulating and valuable parts of life. But still, improvements can be made.

These tips can be used to make it easier to get through the period that is needed to establish a new habit in your life (about 21-45 days or so in my experience). They can also be used after a habit is established because even then you will have bad days or slip up.

1. Use a morning ritual.

This is perhaps the most powerful tip I have found so far in this area. You simply set up a routine in the morning that you do as soon as you wake up. This works so well because what you do early in the day often sets the context for your day. As humans we have a strong tendency to want to be consistent with what we have done before. That’s one big reason why a bad start often leads to a bad day and a good start often leads to a good day. Read all about my and other people’s morning rituals in this article.

2. Do things even if you don’t feel like it.

Your inner voice and feelings can be disregarded if you like. You can do whatever you want to do anyway.

3. Don’t hurt yourself.

Realize that when you disappoint yourself and don’t think and do as you really deep down want to you hurt yourself by lowering your self esteem. Whatever you do during your day sends signals back to yourself about what kind of person you are. Do the right thing like being effective, kind or go to the gym and you feel good. Get lazy, negative or just plain mean and you tend to feel worse after a while. You don’t get away, there is no escaping yourself. And there is always a price to pay. This is a powerful motivator to become a better person.

4. Focus on and take responsibility for the process, not the potential results.

I use this when I workout. I don’t take responsibility for the results in my mind. I take responsibility for showing up and doing my workout. The results – 26 pounds lost during this spring – has come anyway from that consistent action. And this makes it easier for me to take this action when I know that is all I need to focus on. Instead of using half of the energy and focus I have available on hoping that I “reach my goal real, real soon”.

Focus on the process and you will be a lot more relaxed and prone to continue than if you stare yourself blind on the potential results that never come as quickly as you want to and puts you on an emotional rollercoaster from day to day.

5. Find and do what you love or like to do.

It always easier to stick with the program if you love or at least like what you are doing every week. So experiment and find what suits you best.

6. Let go of old self images.

A few years ago I saw myself as someone who didn’t eat healthy food or was athletic and worked out. Even when I started to do that a bit more I still kinda felt like the person I used to feel like when I was living in an unhealthy way.  Over time I started to think more and more of myself as someone who was healthy. But I still shifted back and forth between the two self-images of being a healthy person and an unhealthy person.

So since sometime around the beginning of this year I let go of that past image of myself that felt kinda comfortable but didn’t help me. Since then, as my self-image as a healthy person has become consistent in my mind, I find it much easier to work out and eat healthy food. It seems like the natural thing for me to do now.

7. Use reminders in your environment.

I have been posting about this concept for years now. What you do is simply to write down what you really want to make into a habit or a natural part of your life on a post-it, on your screensaver on the computer etc.

At the moment I use a small whiteboard on my wall that has stuff like “I make $5000/month” and “Remember to have fun” written down on it. I have found this to be very useful to keep myself on track, to keep my focus on the essential stuff and not get so distracted by everything around me.

What is your best tip for taking more consistent action?

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  • M.S June 19, 2009, 4:59 pm

    another great article … go mr. henrik
    i like this one very much .. full of valuable information and actions waiting to be done by us …

    morning ritual.
    just do it
    motivate urself
    process
    improved self-image
    vision board
    … &voila !!

  • Sun-shine June 20, 2009, 3:46 am

    Hi Henrik,

    good stuff as usual!!!!
    1. How do you put notes on the screen saver?
    2. how do you use twitter as reminders
    Am going to start with post- its.

    Have a wonderful day!

    • Henrik Edberg June 23, 2009, 4:15 pm

      Thanks!

      1. I don’t really know, maybe there is some program at download.com?
      2. I haven’t got a clue about that one either. :) But there is probably some way to do it.

  • Louis Williamson June 20, 2009, 7:05 pm

    Hi Heinrik,
    This is the first time I have come across your blog and have spent the last 30 minutes looking through it. It is really insightful, I love the content. This article has hit the nail on the head for many reasons. You’re so right about consistency! I – like many people – find it hard to establish a level of consistency over time. Point #1 is something I can relate to – when my day starts badly it all seems to have gone belly-up by midday :(
    Keep up the great work, i’ll definitely be on the subscription list.

    Louis

  • Chris Phone June 21, 2009, 1:48 am

    Nice tips, I like about don’t hurt yourself and set morning routine. Good night routine is important too. The happier you are when you go to bad, the better dreams you will have and happier will be when you wake up.

  • Jannie Funster June 21, 2009, 7:23 pm

    What an amazing blog to have Stumbled Upon.

    All points so good, it’s hard do tknow where to start. Number 6 and losing old self images is a great one. Clean the slate. From this moment onwards – that’s what we have!

  • Ann June 23, 2009, 5:19 pm

    This really a great post. It sure got me on my feet knowing that I wont achieve anything if I dont take action. Though the palns may be plenty, it will only work if I move- take action. God Bless you Heinrik.

    Can I share this on my blog?

  • Business Communication June 26, 2009, 1:18 am

    I enjoy this blog for its topics and insights as well. Yes, share it!

  • N June 29, 2009, 6:37 am

    I stumbled on your site when i googled ‘fear in life’. I am really happy I found your blog and will be reading it to help my path in becoming the person I want to be.
    I liked your last tip (which is a common tip for achieving goals) posting what you want around your house.I have never done this because I do not feel comfortable with others reading them, but I know it can help me.
    Any tips?

  • YourNetBiz | Chris Marper June 29, 2009, 11:38 am

    Great post. I watched a behind the scenes programme on a UFC fighter recently who trained in Karate all his life. His father made him rise at 5am every morning. The reason… he said your first battle of the day is with yourself. If you can beat yourself wanting to stay in bed then you can beat anybody. (I’m still struggling with that early start though). The early morning routine is so true, if it doesn’t flow then the rest of the day goes bad.

  • Dr. Jennifer Howard July 3, 2009, 1:23 am

    Yes, consistency and discipline need to be part of overall strategy in personal development. To truly change, grow, and become all that we came to be we want to stay focused on our overall life goals. Our deeper passion for our purpose needs to be at the forefront in planning our daily goal. These 7 tips (1) Use a morning ritual, (2) Do things even if you don’t feel like it, (3) Don’t hurt yourself, (4) Focus on and take responsibility for the process, not the potential results, (5) Find and do what you love or like to do (6) Let go of old self images, (7) Use reminders in your environment are so helpful.

    Thanks

    Dr. Jennifer Howard

  • Full Contact Living July 7, 2009, 10:20 pm

    Only just discovered this blog, but this is definitely one of my favourite posts!

    Love the early starts too. I used to hate them, but now by the time the rest of the world is getting up, I’ve had a 4 hours head start. That’s about half a working day for most people! And it’s just such a great time of day too, whatever the weather.

    And I totally buy into “You can do anything you want to do”.

    Solid gold, sir!

  • Joy August 12, 2009, 5:59 am

    Great post. I especially like # 5 – Find and Do What You Love To Do. Thanks for sharing, and keep up the fabulous work.

  • zsa zsa December 11, 2009, 2:08 pm

    I totally agree with what you said that what you do early in the day often sets the context for your day. Starting the day fresh, energized and with lots of positivity is what we should all aim for. I would also like to add that it’s always great to begin the day with exercise, such as yoga. =) Great tips, thanks for sharing! Keep ‘em coming!

  • Bryan April 12, 2010, 10:35 am

    Great ideas!

    I’ve found it useful to use a reward system. If you usually can’t stick with something for more than a week or two then every two weeks reward yourself with a little gift or treat. After a while you might forget about rewarding yourself but by then you’ve already created a new habit.

  • zar May 25, 2010, 1:45 am

    hey great ideas n tips i would be thankful to u if u culd give me ur email adress m 21 years old girl and i have been struggling for da past 3 years to b cosistent and it just dunt work…i have been trying to do a split and get a better body but due to lack of consistency i keep failing and now at this age i have actually given up but ur ideas motivated me. It would be a great help if you could be in touch i need some motivation and support……