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The Art of Consistency

Photo by Lori Andrews

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

There’s a lot to be said in that proverb and quite a bit to think about.

The biggest lesson I take out of those six little words is consistency. Consistency is something I never really liked. In fact, I’ve always found it boring. It’s so….well….consistent. But I’ve come to learn that big goals require three things: a plan, commitment and consistency.

But I have always been a do it now, get it done, and move on kind of girl. Life was always too short to just keep plugging along at something day after day after day.

But…here is what I am learning: If you don’t keep plugging away regularly at something big, you won’t reach the goal. Plain and simple.

As life flies, by the fact of not committing to being consistent in something, it won’t ever happen. Today’s quote, “A year from now you’ll wish you had started today” is a retool of building Rome and truer words were never spoken.

Consistency REALLY works

So I gave consistency a hard look and decided to give it a go. And you know what? I found it really worked.

I’ve always admired people who ran marathons but I could never imagine myself doing it. Because at any given moment, I knew I couldn’t run a marathon, I could never see myself doing it in the future. I could never imagine a slow, consistent working towards this kind of a goal. 26.2 miles was an unfathomable dream that, in my mind, would never happen.

That’s why big dreams remain big dreams. They are simply too big of a bite to take. So it comes down to small bites. Another quote comes to mind and is applicable here. It’s about “eating the elephant one bite at a time.”

Start Small but With a Big Plan in Mind

So I decided to plan a smaller goal. I would run a 1/2 marathon and I actually set the date. Then I put a plan in motion and told everyone I was going to do it. I needed to become accountable to the goal.

It scared the hell out of me. But as I ran day after day with the support of my friends, I actually started to see myself reaching the goal. By setting realistic intermediate goals, it helped me to become consistent.

And here’s the thing…I completed that goal one week ahead of schedule. I actually watched myself run 13.1 miles. I couldn’t believe it. This consistency thing was actually working!

So I decided to get brave and set the next goal–a full marathon two months later. I continued to amaze myself and I realized that consistency was becoming an upward spiral.

The more I did the more I was motivated to do. I was becoming addicted to running and I felt like a gazillion bucks!

A week later I hit the 15-mile mark. I did it! It wasn’t necessarily pretty but I completed it and it felt great, well after the foot soak and massage! That day I truly realized that this goal was accomplishable.

The goal had become part of my daily routine so it was not all consuming but it was important. And by working at it daily, I knew I could reach it.

I came to realize that there was no other way to accomplish a big goal. You can’t build Rome in a day and you can’t run a marathon without consistent training.

Where Can This Fit in Your Life?

So now extrapolating this, I could see other areas of life where I wasn’t performing due to a lack of consistency.

If I came clean with myself, I could see that the reason for not reaching big goals was simply a lack of either a plan, commitment or consistency. In my case, the culprit is generally consistency.

For those of us who are antsy to get things done now, who don’t want to put in the time or wait for our dreams, it is a difficult task–this consistency thing. And as I grew into middle age and started hearing–ever clearer–the tick of the time clock, it made me even more anxious to not want to put in the time and the consistency.

But the reality is that great empires take time, businesses take time, becoming an expert in anything takes time, running takes time.

For many people getting started is the hard part, for others, the course of action is the sticking point. For many, many people consistency is the bugger all.

If you find that being consistent is difficult, perhaps you need to back up and rethink the goal. Perhaps the goal is not important enough to warrant the investment in time.

The Steps to Accomplishment

  1. Set a big goal.
  2. Break it down into small goals.
  3. Become accountable. Tell everyone your goal.
  4. Begin and celebrate the little accomplishments along the way.
  5. Watch consistency become a great motivator and a huge upward spiral.
  6. Celebrate!!

Choose and Move – Consistently

So decide the goal, make the commitment and create the plan. Then do it consistently and as you move down the road towards the goal the easier it will be to find the path and stay the course.

Next thing you know, you’ll sit back, survey what you’ve built and look upon Rome….or the finish line at 26.2miles.

* How about you? How has consistency moved you towards your big dreams? Or has a lack of consistency kept you from reaching the stars? Tell us your stories in the comment section below.

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Carin Kiphart
About the author

Carin Kiphart, “Mantagirl” is one of the world’s top expedition leaders and was inducted into the prestigious Explorers Club in 2006. She is an underwater naturalist and passionate author of all things adventure and travel. At TheAdventureCouple.com she and her husband, Sharkman, share with the world keys to a more exciting, fulfilling and purpose driven life through adventure. Her latest book, Travel Like a Pro is available on her website.

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9 thoughts on The Art of Consistency

  1. Great advice. I can totally vouch and say that it works well also. I keep blog goals and as long as I set small milestones to reach my overall goal, I know that the end goal won’t seem as daunting. Plus, it’s achievable!

  2. Sometimes just merely sticking with something leads to success.

  3. Great post and advice. The first 3 steps are what I do. I will need to incorporate step 4-6.

  4. Hi Carin and Tina – great reminders here, thanks! I have been trying to build consistency into my life – one month at a time for now (see 30 day challenge website). Carin it sounds like we have a lot in common – running, diving, traveling, etc and I look forward to hearing more about your adventures. And maybe I will see you both at #WDS2013? :)

  5. Great thoughts here. Many times we get so focused on achieving our goals that sometimes we forget to look back on celebrate things we have accomplished on the way.

    Being focused is great, but don’t forget to celebrate your successes along the way. Mahalo for sharing Carin.

    Aloha and A hui hou!

  6. Yes. Practicing consistency is not glamorous, and popular culture will always try to seduce us with bright shiny objects. But our deep inner lives and our goals can burn brighter than those objects. That’s the thrust of my own writing.

    Good job on doing the marathon. I’m a lifelong runner, but my longest outing has been a half-marathon. I respect your discipline. And consistency :).

  7. Definitely not a strength of mine… how many books or stories still remain unfinished because I have not mastered the art of consistency? Great post.

  8. I love the marathon story, straight to the point that consistent and persistent will prevail every time. Breaking things into bite size morsels, turns those out of touch dreams into realized successes.

  9. Great post. Anything worth doing definitely requires a plan, commitment, and consistency. I think the real secret sauce is “enjoyment.” Sprinkle that on top of your plan and you will be more likely to commit and keep consistent. For anyone hatching up a plan, make it an enjoyable plan.

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