Have you ever had a goal that you consistently failed at? You told yourself you would start going to the gym a few days a week, yet you can't find the willpower to go at your scheduled time. You also said you would start your business, yet every time you start to get somewhere you slack off instead of staying the path to success.
I never knew why some goals were so much harder to accomplish than others until I realized that all of the goals that are difficult to accomplish require some level of consistency. But why is consistency so hard? Why can't we stick to the plans that will get us to the goals we want to accomplish?
First, let's explore the definition of consistency.
What is Consistency?
Consistency is defined as something done in the same way over time, especially so as to be fair or accurate.
In terms of accuracy, specifically consider the accuracy of your decision making. In other words, consistency in actions helps us to make accurate decisions over time. Not only does consistency tend to correlate with accurate decisions, it helps us to make faster decisions, which is what psychologists call a decision heuristic.
A decision heuristic happens when we act in a certain manner that produces acceptable results thus we tend to continue to act in that way. For this reason, it becomes easy for us make these decisions automatically and/or subconsciously instead of having to process information to make a decision.
As an illustration, consider the fact that when you wake up in the morning you decide to go to work. As a result of that decision, you most likely receive some form of payment. Because that payment is considered to be acceptable, whether desirable or not, you make that same decision every morning after that because you have a level of confidence that as a result of that decision you will receive an acceptable benefit. Yes you may consider calling out, but going to work is always something that you wake up prepared to do.
Why is the Decision Heuristic Important?
The decision heuristic requires one thing that is not always readily available: results.
When you consider things like healthy relationship building, entrepreneurship, and fitness plans they tend to be the most difficult things to accomplish. Why?
Because the results are not immediate and these results often require months and years of hard work. Therefore it becomes our responsibility to override the automatic decision-making process and continue the action even though there are no results to determine whether what you are doing is actually worth it.
This is why in tests like the marshmallow experiment, it was found that the children who were more adept at delayed gratification turned out to be more successful in the long run. The most desired situations like a stable relationship, six-pack abs, and one million dollars in revenue do not happen overnight. Therefore those of us with the ability to move past the decision heuristic and continue in action in spite of what they don't see have an upper hand on those who require immediate results to make decisions.
How to Ignore the Decision Heuristic
Once you understand the decision heuristic, you'll be able to fight against your natural instinct to only do things that produce immediate results so that you become more comfortable with the idea of delayed gratification. Discipline is the anecdote that provides you with the willpower to build until results fuel your decision heuristic.
Eventually, the positive feedback you receive will fuel your decision heuristic and help you to become more consistent in your actions subconsciously as opposed to consciously
Another method of ignoring this subconscious thought pattern? Make decisions that you are confident in or build confidence by increasing your competence in the area surrounding your goal. There is research that indicates confidence in choice helps a person to follow through on their actions. When you make a decision that you believe is good or beneficial, you tend to continue making that decision time and time again. Therefore, if you're confident in your end goal or the possibility of your success you are more likely to finish what you start.
All things considered, the best consistency is birthed from true commitment. If you want to be consistent you need to accept that your consistency may not birth the desired results immediately and that you may have to put more time into your vision before it comes to fruition. Consistency is hard, but not impossible. Stay committed to your goals and don't give up until you see results.