Success is often pictured as a grand moment of inspiration. You see it in the movies and press again and again.
And do you know why you see it in movies and media? Because it’s newsworthy! It’s rare and exciting.
A one-in-a-million story sure makes for some great entertainment, but it makes a lousy plan.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to pin my hopes and dreams on a one-in-a-million shot.
By all means, keep swinging for the fences… but don’t just sit around waiting for your ship to come in. If you actually want to make your dreams come true, you need to make consistent progress.
And that’s really the key… consistency. No matter how small the step, taking consistent steps forward is how you get to where you want to go.
But if consistency is so great, why are people so obsessed with intensity?
Aside from the aforementioned excitement factor, it’s because intensity is measurable in the short term whereas consistency takes time.
That’s why getting in shape is tough… if you exercise for 5 hours and look in the mirror, you’ll see no difference. If you eat right for a day… nothing. The first day of learning guitar is frustrating and miserable. It seems useless.
In the short term, doing the little things that are necessary for success often don’t show any results at all. So people give up. They quit. And their potential goes unfulfilled. They lose faith that they’re on the right path… that success is just ahead if they stick with it.
As with most things that have to do with success, it’s simple… but not easy. It’s hard to drag your butt to the gym or get started on good habits knowing that you won’t have much to show for it for a little while.
But here’s the thing… after that initial inertia, making the right choices and having the right habits not only moves you toward your goals… they make life easier and more enjoyable.
“There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision, and for whom the drinking of every cup, the time of rising and going to bed every day, and the beginning of every bit of work, are subjects of express volitional deliberation.” – William James
We all have a finite amount of energy. A finite amount of will-power and motivation. If you’re having to battle with every decision throughout the day you’re bound to start making some bad choices.
So how can we achieve consistency?
The answer is to set yourself up for success. We all have a limited about of energy in our tank each day. Use that energy to put systems in place that make your life easier rather than struggling all day long.
If you want to run in the morning. Have your shoes and clothes ready to go.
If you want to stop sleeping in. Set an alarm and put the alarm clock (or phone) across the room.
If you want to eat better, start with your grocery list.
By making your future choices ahead of time when you’re at your best, you set yourself up for success.
So use your energy wisely. Use your energy to build those habits and routines that are going to make your life easier in the long run. Because the “long run” isn’t as far off as you think. You’d probably be surprised how different things could be if you just knocked it out of the park for 30 days.
Once you get that taste of momentum, it’ll propel you forward. Over time, it gets easier and easier to make the right choices. In fact, it’s automatic.
Remember, once you form a habit, your mind is actually more comfortable doing it than not because of the neural pathways that get built in your brain. While motivational bursts are great to get you going, habits are more like setting your life on cruise control toward success.
So set up some systems in your life, be consistent, and keep moving forward no matter how small the step.
I’ll leave you with this. We don’t determine our future. We determine our habits, and our habits determine our future. Remember that, and you’ll be well on your way to the top.