We have seen the advertisements; three monthly payments of 19.99 to achieve magical results—the body of your dreams. We want a successful life; but are misled by remarkable promises of results without remarkable effort—simple and fast. DO THIS; RECEIVE THAT. Marketing creates want. “You need this,” they tell us. Companies research what people want and then market and sell it (for a profit). By increasing the want, they increase the market. If enough people want something, someone will offer it. We bounce around the hollow promises of wellness without the necessary consistency to actually achieve the success we seek. We need to find a legitimate path and then consistently follow it. The rewards will eventually follow.
We want to feel better, achieve more, and work less. Marketers know this. The well-being industry has exploded into a multi-billion-dollar industry, wrenching money from our pockets by promising happiness with ease. While promises tantalize desires for happiness, requiring little effort, the results usually fall short of expectation, leaving us disappointed and discouraged.
Consistency and Change
Significant change, toppling entrenching habits, demands more than a magical cure. Before beginning any program to change, we must prepare for the insignificant results likely to follow. Benefits stubbornly wait for consistency before blessing our lives; change first arrives in small imperceptible drops, slowly accumulating. But over the years, changes pour in, soaking us with opportunity and joys. Evaluating progress early in legitimate processes is difficult.
Albert Ellis wrote that he explains to his clients that they have “enormous constructivist tendencies to change themselves, as long as they work and practice consistently at doing so.” He continues, “But I also explain that they have innate and learned self-defeating tendencies that interfere with their constructive abilities” (2002). One of our biggest obstacles to success is our inability to stay consistent. We run into a little resistance, we stumble and then excuse our quitting, externalizing the cause for our failure.
Consistency is the key to success. Angela Duckworth PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, supports this finding through interviews of successful high achievers. She found that, “high achievers often talk about commitment of a different kind. Rather than intensity, what comes up again and again in their remarks is the idea of consistency over time” (2018, location 879).
How To Be Consistent
There are several things we can do to encourage consistency. Above all, we must remember that consistency is a mindset.
First, we must realize that consistency does not mean never failing. We can’t hold magical expectations of perfection and not experience disappointments. “There are no absolutes in behavioral change. We never achieve perfect patience or generosity or empathy or humility (you pick the virtue). It’s nothing to be ashamed of. The best we can hope for is a consistency in our effort—a persistence of striving” (2015). It’s the persistent striving that gets the reward.
Second, we need a clear picture of the end goal. We lose sight of the goal behaviors quickly fall off. We lose the consistency. Accordingly, we must recommit to the goal daily. One and done commitments lose their motivational power. Write the goal down and review it daily.
Third, we must constantly evaluate our progress. We accomplish this through reflection and records. A journal may assist in this step. Write it down or it will be forgotten.
Lastly, we must enlist the help of outside resources. Keeping our goals privately hidden in our mind so we don’t face shame for failure is preparing to fail. Any significant achievement requires the assistance and support of others. They motivate, holding us to our commitments.
Complexity and Change
The complexity of life blurs direct correlations. Our minds manipulate facts, confuse feelings, and bias results. A simple musing over costs and benefits succumbs to hope, pessimism and present moods; exploiting assessments to produce the answer we prefer.
A single compassionate act, even when properly motivated, may not be rewarded. Those unfamiliar with a new commitment to kindness may suspiciously view our benevolence as manipulative. Thoughtful decency may prompt a hurtful response. We need patience; change isn’t a single act. Transformations occur in the heart, eventually expressed in better action. We’re not faking action when a behavior is not natural; we’re showing commitment to new action that doesn’t flow easily. There is some substance to the oft used dictum, “fake it till you make it.”
For example, a compassionate life, sprouting from character, doesn’t grant immunity from sorrow; but does, however, build connections. Over time, as compassion blossoms, we experience the delights of living, free from burdensome jealousies and vexing competitions. Strengthening connections provide toughness and vitality. The kind-hearted aren’t exempt from the pains of disloyalty; but they do have additional support to work through the emotional injures when disloyalty strikes.
Books on Consistency
In order to grow, we must sift through the hubris of misguided advice, giving attention not to be deceived by alluring promises. Marketing won’t stop, relentlessly casting in their lines when the fish keep biting (buying). We will constantly be bombarded with promises of ease. Step back before you succumb to the seductive offers, recognize the emotional pull, and then engage life in a constructive way.
Our growth will come by consistently making healthier choices, abandoning the ridiculous in exchange for the proven. We do this through mindfulness, understanding our feelings, identifying influences, and maintaining a clear vision of the desired future. As awareness improves, so does skilled responses.
The path of improved living requires a life time commitment; never mastered from mindless dabbling. We can be persistent, mindful, and skilled at living our lives. We can enjoy the moment while preparing for the future. Spare the 19.99, and soak in the current beauties surrounding you. Here, in the peace of the moment, we expand, love and live.
Duckworth, A. (2018). Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. Scribner; Illustrated edition.
Ellis, Albert (2002). Overcoming Resistance: A Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy Integrated Approach. Springer Publishing Company; 2nd edition.
Goldsmith, Marshall; Reiter, Mark (2015). Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts – Becoming the Person You Want to Be. Currency; First Edition.