This article was originally published by Brien Dunphy on LinkedIn.
“𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘳𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘵 𝘰𝘧 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘩𝘶𝘮𝘢𝘯 𝘲𝘶𝘢𝘭𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘪𝘴 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘴𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘺.” - 𝘑𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘮𝘺 𝘉𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘮
Every year around this time a new class of freshmen enters colleges and universities around the world. Young, bright-eyed and full of promise, a new crop of students is excited for what’s to come. Some enter college with a goal and a major ready to be declared, while others see possibilities but haven’t quite yet landed on “the one.” It’s an exciting time full of promise and dreams.
Think back to your own young adulthood, were you excited for your future? Were you in awe of the possibilities on the horizon; all those hopes and dreams in your heart of what you could become? Now fast forward to today. Are you where you thought you would be? If not, why not?
It’s normal for dreams to change over time. As we grow and gain life experience, goals transform and some dreams are left behind. We also need to account for life’s unexpected twists and turns. Some dreams are meant to stay in childhood. But if you have unfulfilled dreams, let’s consider one possible reason why you haven’t achieved them.
For some, the answer lies in a lack of consistent action towards a goal.
Not achieving a career goal we set in our college years is one example, but what about the everyday smaller goals that we miss: those last 5 pounds, the promotion that you were passed over for, the side hustle you know will transform your career, the invention that you sketch out continually in your mind, the book idea that is within you, or the entrepreneurial dream you would pursue if only you had time? If there are unfulfilled dreams that you would still like to pursue, lack of consistency may be to blame for why many of your goals seem out of reach.
𝗖𝗼𝗻𝘀𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗲𝗳𝗳𝗼𝗿𝘁 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗽𝗲𝗹𝘀 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝘁𝗼 𝘀𝘂𝗰𝗰𝗲𝘀𝘀
It is not enough to “be talented.” You need more than talent to sustain success. Talent must meet consistency, discipline and self-leadership to create success. We tend to equate talent and potential and think that is enough to accomplish goals and we discount the value of consistency.
There are plenty of examples in life of wasted potential and ideas without action. Having vision without action, without consistent effort in a value direction, will not get you to your goals.
What you need to bridge the gap between talent and accomplishment is consistency. Consistency is both a mindset and a way of life. It is a way of being and according to 18th century English philosopher Jeremy Bentham, consistency is also “the rarest of all human qualities.”
𝗝𝘂𝘀𝘁 𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗿𝘁 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗿𝘁 𝘀𝗼𝗼𝗻
How can you become more consistent? The big thing is starting. What gets in the way of people being consistent is waiting for an internal energy and feelings to align with duty. We wait for motivation that never comes. 𝗝𝘂𝘀𝘁 𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗿𝘁. Momentum kicks in when you start. Take the first step and grow from there.
It may be unpleasant at first. Early steps often are. But like Mike Tyson said, “Do what you hate, like you love it.” Each step you take in the direction of your dreams gets you one step closer to your goals.
An important aspect about consistency is that it’s similar to compound interest, it grows exponentially. Leverage the mathematical reality of compound interest with consistency. It is only by plowing little by little that we are able to grow. It is by taking step after step that we move forward.
The key to being consistent is to have forethought and plan ahead for things to be consistent. Organize your life around consistency. Anticipate and eliminate distractions from what’s most important.
We each have limited bandwidth. There is great utility in auditing our lives (personally and professionally) to intentionally determine what we are investing in presently, and what investments we want to make consistently. It’s unreasonable to believe we can be consistent in everything at all times. Make a realistic appraisal assessment and determine what is important for you to be consistent with.
We need to vet our good intentions and prioritize what we are going to be consistent with and where we will be inconsistent. As grandma would often say, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
Finally, another important aspect of being consistent is to have the right cadence in what we assume daily. To achieve a goal we must do the right thing, in the right way, with the right cadence. Consider not just ‘“how often” but also the speed in which you do it. Anything worth doing takes time. Like the famous choreographer and dancer André De Shields once said “Slowly is the fastest way to get to where you want to be.” Begin now, go slow and start making progress towards those dreams.