Consistency: A Daily Practice
If you follow me on Instagram and have been watching my stories recently, you’ll know I’ve gotten into a habit of something called “morning pages”. This morning ritual was recommended to me years ago when I was reading a book called “The Artist’s Way.” At the time, I started incorporating the habit and, when it got hard and I didn’t “feel” like it, I fell off track. Sound familiar?
Years have passed since I initially read about the practice. Since then, one of my favorite authors, Hannah Brencher, reiterated a simple fact: Writers write. Period. If I want to produce more work, share more with my readers, and practice writing, all I have to do is write. So, I decided to incorporate morning pages back into my day. Yay, how fun! I romanticized the thing, dreaming of the profound thoughts I would have each morning and the powerful content I would be able to produce. The idea was exciting and I was committed to really making it last.
Being a perfectionist, “really making it last” went from 0 to 100 in one romanticized decision. That’s the thing about being a perfectionist – expectations are always at the extreme. Isn’t that the inherent struggle in being a perfectionist? The goal is to be perfect. Not good, not consistent, it’s much more of a mechanization of any act. Work, work, work. Only when I can literally say writing is my full time work and I produce content every single day would I be able to confidently say that I am a writer. Who knows, even that may not be good enough! That is the pain of perfectionism. But, unrealistic expectations are a guaranteed route to failure.
What will work are simplified, realistic expectations. What will work is slowly incorporating something new and staying the path when it stops being fun. That is the kindness that can counter the pressure to be perfect. From that perspective, I can already be proud of the fact that I am journaling 6 days a week. 2-3 pages each morning to keep practicing writing. I have that one down. Next? Writing a blog each week for you to read. The best part about journaling each morning is that I’m puling blog content directly from what I’m writing about each day. I don’t have to sit in front of my computer feeling frustrated because inspiration isn’t striking exactly when I want it to. All I have to do is flip through the pages I’ve written and write even more about what I’ve learned or what I’ve been working on. Consistent writing makes producing content easier. Those mentors I’ve been learning from actually know what they’re talking about! Funny, huh?
In the process of building consistency, there’s comes a turning point that is more important to maintaining the habit than anything else. It’s the moment when the novelty has worn off, when the discomfort is great and that one thought pops into your head, “I don’t really want to do this anymore.” That is the make or break moment when you have to have an internal pep talk. In that moment, you’ll think of all the things you’d rather be doing. Scrolling social, making something to eat, watching Netflix, running that errand, making a beverage and hanging out, watching Tik-Tok…. the list goes on. It would be easier to do those things. It would be more fun to do those things. It would be more comfortable, less challenging.
The habit you’re trying to build is on the other side of that thought. You have to choose to push through and stay put. You have to keep your seat in the chair, your phone on the table or in the other room, your to-do list out of your head. You have to stay. You have to focus and keep going. Pushing through the point of discomfort and into the work is going to make you better. You will get stronger and you’ll begin the transformation of moving from who you are now to who you want to be. It will not be easy. If you’re looking for easy, keep doing what you’ve been doing. You’ll find yourself in a cycle of sameness that will keep you comfortable and, let’s be honest, saying the same things you’ve always said to yourself.
But, if you really want something different for your life, stay the course. Impulsivity does not have to be the great determinate of your life. You can choose to align your intentions and your behavior. It’s not always easy and the novelty has a tendency to wear off pretty quickly, but your capabilities far exceed your doubts if you can practice staying in your seat.
So, how can you strengthen the habit of staying?
- Set realistic expectations. When you decide to add a habit to your lifestyle, 0 to 100 doesn’t work. Pick one thing and start there. Want to read more? Pick one book from a genre that will hold your attention. Then, determine the format that you can maintain. I love holding books and turning pages, so I prefer the physical book. You might prefer listening. Get yourself an audiobook. Do what will work for you, then expand from there.
- Ditch the shame. You cannot shame yourself into a new habit. Berating yourself doesn’t help, it causes more hurt. Just keep trying until you find something that feels right. You don’t have to stay in a “one size fits all” mindset believing that you’ll love it just because everyone else does. Keep trying until you discover the thing that works for you and be kind to yourself in the process.
- Stay. Stay put. If you know you want to do something, like writing more, keep doing the thing. Write. Then write some more. Then read. Then keep writing. Stay in your chair until the timer goes off or you’ve hit the word count or you’ve reached the bottom of the page. Stay in the discomfort and keep going.
- Quit the comparison. The shame game and the comparison game kill so many dreams, derail so much progress, and cause significant pain for so many, perfectionists especially. Your process is your process and comparing your journey to that of anyone else is only going to hurt you. It may plant some doubt and, when a flame of doubt becomes a fire, you’ll burn the whole dream to the ground. Unfollow, unfriend, or leave the phone in another room. You have to defend your own growth in this process. Build your mote around your castle and stay there until you feel it’s safe to lower the bridge.