Ever run hot and cold on projects? Spend 10 hours on something only to not touch it again for months?
Then wonder why you never seem to make any real progress?
I’ve been there.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ve witnessed the starting and stopping in action.
The answer is a simple one. To be successful at anything, you need to work at it. Consistently. Like everyday kind of consistently.
But the benefits of consistent action go beyond just accomplishing your goals.
Consistency builds Confidence
I think my favourite reason for doing something every day is how it builds confidence. As you stick at something – even ten minutes a day – you gain esteem from following through on your commitment. You build belief realising you actually have it in you to be consistent day after day.
This confidence overflows into the rest of your life. You make the effort to exercise daily so you make better eating choices to not undo your good efforts. You spend thirty minutes per day writing for your blog so you put in the effort to schedule social media to promote it. One good choice leads to many more good choices.
Beyond making you more inclined to make better decisions, the increase in confidence helps expand your horizons. You’re more willing to put yourself out there and try new things, say yes to new experiences. Not find excuses to back out of things that excite and scare you in equal measure. You have faith in yourself so you go for it, attack every opportunity.
Consistency builds Momentum
The key to making daily action succeed is to keep your commitment laughably small. To the point of ridiculous. Two minutes of meditation. Ten press-ups. Five points on your gratitude journal. So small that you think ‘there’s no way I won’t manage to do that every single day’. Over time you can increase your commitment but at the start, until you’re really well established, the commitment must be minuscule.
Then the magic happens. You’ve overcome two of the biggest challenges, deciding what to do and starting. Some days all you will manage is your two minutes or ten reps. But on other days (and I’d say more days than not), now that you’ve started you’ll do more. A hundred words turn into an entire blog post. Smoothie for breakfast turns becomes healthy eating all day. Part of the reason your commitment can be so, so small is that you can always do more if you feel like it. But the more important reason for making it tiny is to make the barrier to completing your daily action insignificant.
And you’re building momentum into your day. Whether you end up doing more of your committed to task or whether the fact you’ve accomplished something motivates you to accomplish something else is beside the point. Your daily action has kick-started your productivity and you are smashing your day. That brings success.
Not only do you get the daily win of overcoming inertia to be productive but you benefit from the compounding effect of doing something every day. Stretching turns into long-term flexibility and mobility. Daily social media posting becomes a community. You have the opportunity to try new things and learn from those experiments. Your skill sets and experience grow. All from completing one laughably small task every day.
Consistency builds Focus
Focusing on achieving one action every single day provides clarity. You have one priority for the day. It’s less overwhelming than considering your entire to-do list. You’ll always think of more things to add to the list (after all we’re always improving and refining things) which makes it easy to feel like you’re never getting ahead. If you’re anything like me, that gets overwhelming and you end up procrastinating. So take the pressure off. Focus on one task.
Having a single aim gives you an inbuilt quick win for every day. You can easily tick your task off your list and give yourself a pat on the back. Well done you! And no doubt that satisfaction motivates you to do more or do something else. Winning.
Committing to your Consistent Action
Now I have you convinced that you need a daily action let’s help you figure one out.
Think about your main goal at the moment. What are you trying to accomplish? Maybe get more flexible, drink more water, more gratitude, write more, read more, meditate more. Could be any area of your life -work, hobby, health, social life.
If you are tossing up between a couple of different options, here’s your dealbreaker. Why do you want to achieve your goal? Think about it for each option you’re considering. Which reasoning speaks to you more strongly? Pick that area. A stronger reason will help with your stick-ability and I really want your first time trying this to be a success.
Once you’ve settled on a goal or area of improvement that your commitment falls into, I suggest you brainstorm some actions then use the following guidelines to refine your ideas.
- I’ve said this already but cannot overemphasize it enough, keep your commitment super super small! Take whatever you’ve come up with and halve it. Yes it really needs to be that tiny.
- Only pick one thing! I know that making such a small commitment makes it tempting to make several because surely it can’t be that hard to do those six things. Just stick with one.
- Make sure your action is clearly defined. An easy yes I did it or no I didn’t. No room for fudging it. Ten reps, one hundred words, five minutes. All easily measurable.
- Your action should be adding in rather removing or not doing something. This is about doing something rather than willpower. If you do want to remove something from your life, for example, watch less Netflix or eat less chocolate, then decide what you want to replace it with and focus your action on what you’re adding in.
For those of you that are feeling distinctly uncomfortable with how small the commitment in, here’s your reprieve. After three weeks, that’s 21 consecutive days, no cutting corners here, you can increase the commitment or add a second action. A word of warning though. A life of only daily actions doesn’t sound like much fun so if you need an upper limit, no more than three actions totalling half an hour of time.
At this point, you may or may not have arrived at one action. If you have, hurray it’s time to commit!
If not, take your shortlist and ask yourself a couple of questions. Firstly, which of these activities excite me the most? Secondly, which of these activities would move me the closest to my goal? By thinking about what you’ll enjoy and what will be effective you can select the activity that you are most likely to stick with. Enjoyment will get you through initially and then the results will keep you going.
There you have it! A commitment. To take action. Every day for a least the next 21 days. A tiny, insignificant action that will build into one of the biggest changes in your life.