“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”
Leonardo Da Vinci
One of the biggest and most common problems with improving your life or the success you want out of it is that you may not take consistent action over a longer time period.
Now, consistency isn't the sexiest or most exciting word. 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.
This is something I have struggled with a lot in the past. And on some days I still do. But over the years I have found a few things that really help me with this.
1. When you're taking action, focus only on the process.
I use this one, for example, when I do my workouts and when I write. I don’t take responsibility for the results in my mind.
I take responsibility for showing up and doing my workout/the writing. That's it.
The results come anyway from that consistent action. And this makes it easier for me to take this action because:
- I know that is all I need to focus on. And so my energy and attention is only focused in one direction and I do a better job.
- I feel a lot less pressure on myself. And so I'm more relaxed and prone to continue compared to if I stare myself blind on the potential results that never come as quickly as I may want and if I'm on an emotional roller coaster from day to day.
2. Remember why you are taking action.
Find your top priorities and reasons for why you are doing what you are doing.
It could be to provide for your family, to save up for traveling, to get the job you really want or to improve your self-confidence. Or something else.
To not lose track of why you are taking action and to stay focused:
- Write down your most important reasons. Take a few minutes, sit down with paper and a pen and write down the top 1-3 reasons for why you take action and want to keep doing that in your life right now.
- Put that note where you can see it every day. Like for example in your workspace or near your bed so that you see it every morning when you wake up.
3. Reminder: you don’t want to hurt yourself.
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, going to the gym or simply rest 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.
4. Take smaller steps on the days when the big ones seem to daunting.
On some days getting started with any of the the most important tasks may seem daunting. And so you start to procrastinate. When that happens, one thing that has worked for me is to be kind. To nudge myself forward instead of beating myself up.
So at such times I take:
- A small step. I may make a deal with myself to just work for 5 minutes on a piece of a bigger and more difficult task.
- An even smaller step. If that small step feels like too much and I start to procrastinate I make a deal with myself for 1 or 2 minutes of work.
Sometimes that results in a few dents put into a big task, a couple of smaller tasks being completed and many breaks being taken throughout the day.
And sometimes the easy start or restart to the day is all I need to get going again and to have a good and very productive time before the evening arrives.
Either way, I move forward instead of standing still.
5. Celebrate what you did today.
When you appreciate your good work you feel even better about your life and yourself. And over time taking more action with less inner resistance becomes possible and you associate action with more positive emotions than you may at this time.
- Take two minutes at the end of the day to think about what you can appreciate about what you did today. Or write down a couple of self-appreciative things in your journal.
- Have a tasty treat or a bigger celebration.
- Tell someone how nice something turned out, how you learned a good lesson or how proud you are over something important you did today.
Reward yourself for the things you did right today to strengthen your action taking habit.
And remember to be kind to yourself for the things you may have missed or not gotten done. No point in trying to beat yourself up. No point in trying to be perfect.
See what you can learn from it and perhaps try another solution tomorrow and see if that works better.