Do you struggle with consistency?
Do you feel like if you could just be more consistent with your habits and routines, you’d be able to breakthrough?
If you’re like most of my coaching clients…
You know what you need to do.
You know when you need to do it.
You know how to do it.
But you just can’t get yourself to do it consistently.
It’s not your fault! Consistency is hard!
It’s hard to get to the gym every day.
It’s hard to publish a blog post every week.
It’s hard to make 25 sales calls per day.
When you finally start to get consistent then…
Kids get sick.
Bosses throw extra work at you.
A week goes by and you’ve fallen out of your routine and find yourself drifting again.
You know if you could just be consistent, you would break through the barrier that seems to be holding you back from your best life.
Why Is It So Hard to Be Consistent?
Everyone struggles with consistency. It’s what keeps me in business 🙂
For the past 5 years, I’ve successfully helped my clients create world-class consistency… which is why my business is growing 🙂
I helped Dr. Mark McLaughlin finally publish his book:
“Thanks for helping me to bring my best self to this project. You helped me solve an enigma that I have been struggling with for the past 5 years. Not only did I tap into my personal greatness as I pursued this endeavor, I left a legacy for my children and grandchildren. I will forever be indebted.”
-Dr. Mark McLaughlin
I helped Matt Thomas successfully transition his career:
“This has been life-changing. And it happened fast. It was almost instantaneous that things started to click.”
-Matt Thomas, entrepreneur
I helped Neal Ewers crush his goals:
“I’m shattering the goals I’ve set for myself already. I feel pretty much unstoppable. Every aspect of my life has been affected positively.”
-Neal Ewers, CEO, Beat the Streets Toronto
Truthfully, everyone struggles with consistency.
Sure, you have that friend who’s done 100 push-ups every day for a year but he’s inconsistent somewhere else. Don’t compare yourself to others. And don’t beat yourself up.
Where does the struggle to be consistent come from?
Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art and other bestselling books and novels, calls it Resistance with a capital “R.” Resistance, he says, is the universal force that works to stop us from completing the work that we are meant to do.
Resistance is impartial.
Michelangelo dealt with it.
So did Da Vinci.
Mozart did as well.
And so do you.
“Where there is a dream, there is resistance,” Pressfield says.
I call it “friction.”
Resistance comes from friction.
So, let’s talk about the secret to eliminating friction so that you can create world-class consistency.
Want to listen to the podcast episode that accompanies this blog post?
Find episodes #276 and #277 on your favorite podcast player or click “play” below.
Why Most People Fail at Being Consistent
Most people fail at being consistent because they lack a framework for dealing with Resistance. More specifically, they don’t address the friction that’s causing the Resistance.
You’re not consistent at getting to the gym because you’ve not addressed the friction.
You’re not consistent at publishing on your blog because you’ve not addressed the friction.
You’re not consistent at making sales calls because you’ve not addressed the friction.
The Inner Dialogue That Crushes Productivity and Consistency
Does this inner dialogue sound familiar?
“Ok… I have a lot to do today. Geez… before I can even start I have to open a spreadsheet, login to my CRM, sort through my lists, and create a call list before I can even make my first call.
Ok, before I do this, let me just fill up my coffee.”
(upon returning from filling up coffee)
“Ok, let me check my email real quick.”
(30 minutes later)
“Before I get busy, let me just check Facebook real quick.”
(15 minutes later)
“Ok, I’ll check the scores on ESPN then get right to work.”
(15 minutes later)
“Dang, it’s already 10 am and I haven’t even started. I’ll never have a productive day today. Ok… time to get to work… Let me just fill up my water first.”
These inner dialogues take place in a millisecond. It’s more of a subconscious feeling than a thought—fleeting yet powerful—that commands our actions.
These thoughts might be about working out or meditating or getting to bed on time.
Regardless of the scenario, only when you become aware of this unconscious dialogue are you able to fight it.
15 Tactics to Help You Be More Consistent
(1) Minimum Actionable Progress:
In their landmark book, Designing Your Work Life, Stanford design professors and co-authors Bill Burnett and Dave Evans use the term “Minimum Actionable Problem.” I use the term “Minimum Actionable Progress” or MAP. MAP is the smallest action you can take to make progress.
Many salespeople set a goal of making a certain number of calls per day—let’s say 25. They often fail because it’s a daunting task. However, when you identify the next minimum actionable progress it’s much more manageable.
MAP 1: Create a list of 50 prospects.
MAP 2: Make one phone call.
I have a client who did exactly this and increased his productivity 10x. In fact, he began creating the list of prospects the night before so that this friction was already overcome by the time he sat down at his desk.
Olympic wrestler and client Jake Herbert once told a group of my clients to “set the bar low.”
What? Set the bar low?!
And this was coming from an Olympian!
I was surprised to find this same message in the Designing Your Work Life book I mentioned above. Research shows that by setting the bar low, you are more likely to take action. And action creates momentum.
Set the bar low.
Make the minimum actionable progress.
How else can you reduce friction and create world-class consistency?
(2) The Five-Minute Rule:
The 5-Minute Rule states that you will commit to a task for at least five minutes. You give yourself permission to quit after five minutes as well.
With this tactic, you will overcome the friction of starting because you only have to do it for 5 minutes. Once you start you’re far less likely to stop.
My good friend and host of the Success Hotline, Dr. Rob Gilbert says, “It’s the start that stops most people.”
It’s true. But The Five-Minute Rule gets you started. And that makes all the difference.
Example of How to Use The Five-Minute Rule:
You want to workout but you’re always making excuses. By applying The Five-Minute Rule you commit to working out for just 5 minutes. That’s it.
If after five minutes you feel like continuing the workout, great. If not, you can stop. By allowing yourself the freedom to stop, you’ll be more likely to start. And you’ll find yourself working out more consistently.
(3) Write Clearly Defined Goals AND a Plan to Achieve Them.
Consistency requires not only goals (we’ve all set goals) but also a plan to achieve them.
Without a plan, goals are just wishes.
And a wish won’t compel you to execute consistently.
Here’s how to create a simple and actionable plan to achieve your goals:
First, download this free goal setting template. Fill it out for your first goal.
Then, create micro-goals for this month. That is, identify the steps can you take this month to achieve your goals?
For example, if you want to lose 20 lbs, your micro-goals might be:
- Hire a personal trainer.
- Block time on my calendar for getting to the gym on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 7 am.
Next, write your micro-goals on a Post-It Note and stick it where you’ll see it every day, for example, on your desk, your car’s dashboard, your bathroom mirror.
Finally, set a reminder in your Google or Outlook Calendar or on your phone to repeat this process again the first Monday of every month.
I cover this simple goal setting process in-depth over on this step-by-step guide to goal setting.
Goal setting alone will not make you consistent. Just like any athlete who relies on consistency to win championships, you also need peak performance routines.
(4) Peak Performance Routines and Consistency
It’s game 7 of the NBA Finals. Lebron James shows up before the game.
He’s not sure what kind of warm-up he’s going to do.
He’s not sure when he’ll get taped up.
He’s not sure what he’s going to eat.
We know that the man who is arguably the G.O.A.T. has routines that create world-class consistency.
Here’s Lebron James’ actual pre-game routine:
“When I come in,” James said, “I get dressed, shoot for half an hour and then do a stretching routine that lasts about 25 minutes, then go in the training room and get my legs worked on by the masseuses, and then I get taped. Most of the time I do media. Then I do the team meeting and prepare for the game.”
Mike Mancias, the Cavaliers’ assistant athletic trainer, stretches and tapes James.
“He wants the taping done the same way every time, nice and snug,” Mancias said. “He wants everything sharp, clean and routine.”
From NYT article “For James, Game-Day Quirks Evolve Into the Ritual.”
We know that the best athletes have routines that help them execute consistently.
“But I’m not competing every day, Jim. Most days are just showing up at the office.”
Well, for world-class athletes, that would be called training.
Here are some of Tom Brady’s performance routines before a training session:
“Brady wakes up at 5:30 a.m, and starts the day with a berry-and-banana smoothie. Then he meets his trainer, Guerrero, at around 8 a.m. on the beach.
Before working out, Guerrero gives Brady a four-minute massage that hits 20 muscle groups for about 20 seconds each. During the so-called “deep force” treatment, Guerrero Brady flexes and relaxes the muscle at a faster and faster pace while doing a movement, according to Men’s Health. The pre-workout massage is to help prepare Brady’s brain and body for impact, Guerrero said in an episode of the documentary series on Brady, “Tom vs. Time.”
Next, Brady starts a 40-minute workout with resistance bands. He doesn’t use weights because the focus is on speed, agility, and core stability, and heavy weights create short, tear prone muscle fibers built for quick bursts, according to Guerrero.”
From CNBC article: “NFL Start Tom Brady’s Exercise and Diet Routine for Optimal Performance.”
World-class performers have simple routines for game day and every day.
So, why not you?
A consistent routine begets consistent performance.
So, what are the morning routines that help you to be consistent?
I asked my clients the same question. My typical client is a successful, mid-career man. He feels like there’s more potential inside of him. He knows the clock is ticking and feels there’s no time left to underperform.
So, here’s what he does.
Here are the peak performance routines that my clients do to maximize their every-day performance.
- Wake-up: Early (between 5-6 am).
- Water: Drinking water soon after waking up.
- Exercise: Some form of morning exercise.
- Journaling: Setting their mind right for the day.
- Meditation: Creating awareness.
Simple yet powerful routines like these create consistency.
A word of caution about morning routines: Don’t just do them because you read it in an article or heard Joe Rogan talking about them.
In my interview with Tim Ferriss on the Success Through Failure podcast, he wisely advised that if you layered all of the morning routines that top performers do on top of one another, you’d be doing your morning routine until 3:00 in the afternoon!
Pick 2-3 routines.
Then, test to see what works best for you.
The hard part is figuring out what not to do.
How to Increase Focus and Minimize Distractions to Maximize Consistency
Distractions are a major cause of inconsistency. Take a hard stance against distractions. That means using technology wisely.
“Technology deployed for a very specific thing you care about, in a very structured way can give you really big benefits. Technology bound into your life casually, or used without rules in consideration has a way of sort of metastasizing its footprint in your cognitive life and making things worse.”
-Cal Newport on the Success Through Failure podcast (epis. #268)
As the author of over a dozen books, Cal Newport knows how to create a deep work environment. He leverages technology in ways that benefit him rather than distract him.
How Can Technology Help You Be Consistent?
Examples of How to Use Technology to Create World-Class Consistency:
(5) Notifications: Turn off notifications on your phone and turn it face down. Even the lighting up of the screen can distract you and suck you into the vortex of email, texting, and social media.
(6) Set Alarms: Use your phone to set timers, reminders, and alarms. If you want to meditate consistently, set a reminder every morning until it becomes a habit.
(7) Tracking: You can use apps like Productive or Streaks to help you track your habits so that you can increase consistency. Want some suggestions? This Time article offers the “5 Best Habit Tracking Apps.”
(8) Time block: Set a finite amount of time where you’ll work undisturbed.
No checking your phone.
No checking email.
Just executing on the thing you want to be consistent with.
You’ll find these defined work sessions to be incredibly productive.
Want to be more consistent at work?
(9) Close your door: If you work in an office environment, close your door to send a message to colleagues that you’re in need of undisturbed work time.
(10) How Accountability Can Help You Be More Consistent
When I was a wrestler at the University of Virginia, I had to go to practice every day. And practice wasn’t fun. If not for the accountability of my coaches and teammates, I wouldn’t have practiced consistently.
Accountability equals consistency.
Currently, I’m part of a men’s workout group called F3 (check out my podcast interview with the founder of F3 Dave “Dredd” Redding). F3 is totally free and I have no obligation to show up. However, there’s social accountability that has me waking up as early as 4:30 am for a workout… even when there’s snow on the ground.
Again… Accountability = Consistency
Want to be more consistent?
No one is coming to save you.
No one is going to give you permission.
It’s up to you to choose the hard thing.
(11) A Scary But Necessary Tactic for Creating World-Class Consistency
I once lost 22 lbs in 2.5 days to make weight for a wrestling competition.
It was hell.
By most standards, I probably should have been hospitalized. Thankfully, that kind of weight loss is no longer a part of the sport. But I chose to do this.
Because I’d made a commitment.
I committed to my team when I earned the starting spot.
Here’s another example.
Last December, I committed to running a marathon in April.
I signed up.
I paid the money.
I circled the date on my calendar.
I trained in sub-freezing temperatures.
I trained in the rain.
I trained alone when my training partner was out of town.
Then, it was canceled due to COVID.
Still, I trained.
Why? Because I made the commitment.
I ran the marathon.
No race officials.
No participation t-shirt.
My training partner and I mapped out a 26.2-mile course and ran our own marathon.
Making the commitment was the hard part.
(12) Consistency and Instant Negative Feedback
Quitting smoking is hard.
If you smoke cigarettes, you don’t get cancer for decades. But what if you got cancer 10 minutes after smoking a cigarette? Do you think it would be hard to quit?
Of course not!
This is what Dr. Robert Gilbert calls “instant negative feedback.”
The reason why people struggle to be consistent is because they don’t receive instant negative feedback.
If you don’t workout consistently, it takes months to gain 20 lbs.
If you don’t make sales calls consistently, it takes months before you feel the impact in your commission check.
If you don’t meditate consistently, the effects are intangible and certainly not instant.
What if you could manufacture instant negative feedback?
Identify something you absolutely do NOT want to do. Something that would be awful.
Maybe recording yourself singing a song and posting it on social media.
Or donating money to the opposing political party.
Or to the athletic department of your alma mater’s rival.
For me, that would be donating money to Virginia Tech Wrestling (I went to Virginia- Go Hoos!).
Whatever it is, it must be bad for you.
Doing 100 push-ups, for example, is actually good for you even if you don’t want to do it so you’re less likely to want to avoid doing them.
Now, if you don’t execute consistently—workout 5 days in a row, make 25 sales calls, get to bed by 10 am every weekday for a month—then follow through on the instant negative feedback.
I take it a step further and reduce friction by addressing the envelope, stamping it, and putting the money inside. I keep an envelope made out to Virginia Tech Wrestling inside my work bag and use it as instant negative feedback when there’s something I want to be consistent with.
(13) How Having Clear Core Values Increases Consistency
In my performance coaching program, Reveal Your Path, one of the tactics we use is to tether goals to one or more personal core values.
My clients don’t choose goals based on what’s parked in their neighbor’s driveway, what they see on social media, or what the mass media tells them they should want. My clients write down the core values (that they identify through our work together) that align with that specific goal.
By tethering core values to goals, the goal becomes deeply meaningful which increases consistency. This is how you set the right goals for yourself.
When you have the right goals—aligned goals—you’ll find yourself executing consistently.
(14) Create Belief: How Belief Creates Consistency
You must believe that what you want is possible. You must believe that consistent action is going to create the outcome that you want.
But how do you create belief?
You do this through positive self-talk, visualization, journaling, hiring a coach, and something I call a Cognitive Conversion. I talk more about this in episode #139 of the Success Through Failure podcast which you can listen to here.
In his book Atomic Habits, author James Clear talked about creating belief. He discussed the power of changing your identity so that you can execute your habits more consistently.
You must “be” the person now who works out consistently. Don’t wait until you’ve lost the 20 lbs to “be” that person. Find the piece of you now that eats, works out, and lives that lifestyle today.
Don’t overlook this tactic. I put it near the end of this article because it’s the glue that makes all of this work. If there’s any one thing you should double-down on, it’s this: Create belief.
Want more tactics for creating belief?
In episode #259 of the Success Through Failure podcast, I talk about “9 Weird Mindset Hacks That You Can Use to Break Limiting Beliefs.” You can listen to that episode here.
(15) Do It Anyway
We tend to want to wait until we “feel like it.”
We want to wait for the motivation.
You often won’t feel like it.
You often won’t have the motivation.
Do it anyway.
When all of the tactics shared here don’t work… and sometimes they won’t… simply do the thing anyway.
Mechanically do the thing. Whatever “the thing” is, just do it.
Peel off the band-aid.
Open the Word Doc and start typing.
Pick up the phone and start dialing.
Open up the CRM and start creating the list.
Pull out your credit card and commit to buying the book or signing up for the program.
Don’t wait. Mechanically, without emotion, do the thing now.
How to be Consistent in Work-Life Balance
Work-life balance is an enigma. Sometimes we feel in balance. Other times we are out of balance. Once again, consistency is hard. But when you have a plan, it gets much easier.
I go in-depth on work-life balance in this blog post.
Most people find themselves struggling to be consistent in one area more than the others. That is why you have to create multiple goals. When you follow the framework outlined in the post above, you’ll find yourself being more consistent with work-life balance.
Quick Tips for Consistency:
How to be Consistent in Working Out
- Layout your workout clothes the night before. (I actually wear mine to bed!)
- Hire a personal trainer. Investing money will increase your consistency!
- Commit to something big (5k, marathon, some kind of competition).
- Join F3: What is F3?
How to be Consistent in Sales
- Create peak performance routines. Your livelihood depends on your performance, just like a professional athlete. Think nutrition, sleep, and exercise.
- Measure and track your key performance indicators religiously. Metrics and stats!
- Block time on your calendar for your highest value work. If you don’t, email and minutia can and will creep in!
How to be Consistent in a Relationship
- Be mindful of your presence. You can set an alarm on your phone or recite a mantra to snap you into the moment rather than drifting into a conversation with negativity.
- Set goals. For example, “at least one date night per month” or “attend a relationship workshop together.”
- Block time for a weekly Productive Pause to discuss your plans for the week so that you’re both on the same page with commitments and have the same expectations.
How to be Consistent with Meditation
- Block time on your calendar for meditation.
- Download a meditation app in advance and choose the guided meditation. This reduces friction to getting started.
- Commit to a course or program. Investing money will increase your consistency.
How to be Consistent with Diet and Nutrition
- Tether your weight or fitness goal to a core value. What’s your “why” for this goal?
- Reduce friction by eliminating junk food from your environment (your home, office, or car).
- Commit to a goal and welcome accountability. Do this with a group. Tell a friend.
I could go on about how to be consistent in so many areas of your life.
I know you want to be more consistent in your life. You can apply for a free one-time coaching call with me. Click here to find a time on my calendar so that you can break through the fog and create the consistency, discipline, and focus that you need to achieve your goals.