Consistency is Boring (but Effective)
I have been on a workout spree for the last three weeks. My sleep has improved because I’m able to wake up early enough to get these workouts in. I’m also tired enough at night that I’m able to fall asleep at a decent hour.
What changed? I started a new workout program. This program is simple and effective. Its effectiveness lies within its simplicity. The program consists of two different workouts that I cycle through every two days. The workouts are always the same. It’s boring. But do not conflate “boring” and “ineffective.” It is anything but that.
This got me thinking: “what makes this simplistic approach so effective?” If I can answer that, I’m sure I can apply it to other aspects of my life.
The simplicity enables disciplined consistency. There is no overthinking required. In many cases, thinking isn’t required. Just do.
We can apply this simplistic approach to any area of our lives. With the fast pace of today’s information environment, it’s easy to get distracted. With the interconnectedness that social media affords, it’s easy to see what other people are doing. That triggers our competitive nature and we can’t help but compare our boring lives (we’re our own worst critics aren’t we?) to our friends’ extravagant and adventurous lives. At least that’s what they show us.
Simplifying could mean a reduction in the mindless social media scrolling. It could also mean reducing an ambitous reading program to its bare essentials (whatever that is). It could mean keeping to a consistent writing schedule in the morning with the understanding that you’ll push other tasks to later in the day. It will always mean a tradeoff. You will tradeoff entertaining uses of your time to tasks that add value.
If you think you can have it all, you are setting yourself up for failure. There will always be a tradeoff. Accept that fact.
Here are some ideas to consider when simplifying:
- Understand that you can’t have it all. You are trading off immediate gratification for something more effective in the longer term.
- Review your goals. Reduce if necessary. You must make tough decisions here. We can’t accomplish it all. Take some time to figure out what you want and then establish a bare bones plan to get from your current station to the goal. Naturally, the unnecessary (but oftentimes pleasurable) things should fall by the wayside.
- Establish goals if you haven’t done so. Without an objective, we’re flying blindly by the seat of our pants. This may require some deep thinking. It will definitely require some tough choices because your time is scarce and you’re trying to use that scarce resource most effectively.
- Know your “why.” I tried to stay away from clichés, but you can’t knock the simplicity of this phrase. You’ll need this because there will be tons of distractions pulling you in every direction. These distractions will derail you from you every making progress on your goals.
- Establish a periodic (i.e., weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc…) review of your goals. You can’t make meaningful progress on something you don’t track. This review could take many forms. One form for me is a written document in my note-taking system. A journal works as well. The important part is writing something down.