While sometimes boring and mundane, showing up every single day has been the single most powerful factor for results making in my life so far...
- The two relatively successful companies I've co-founded have been a result of dogged persistence rather than any kind of entrepreneurial brilliance.
- In a somewhat different domain, my progression to a 400lb squat came about from sheer determination rather than genetic ability. It took me the best part of half a decade and countless jugular popping training sessions to take these chicken legs to the "intermediate" bracket of official strength standards.
- My first successful online site only blossomed after 12 months of posting mostly every day and my ability to put together a half decent video only started to appear after a hundred, or so, less than stellar appearances.
I could reel off further evidence, but it's increasingly clear to me that small, but consistent, daily progress over (often) years is the most reliable way for me to create results in my life.
Of course I'm not the only one who's noticed this phenomenon. Plenty of successful people have written books attributing their success to the same thing:-
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
- The 1% Rule by Tommy Baker
- Peak by Anders Ericsson
- The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod
- The Slight Edge by Jeff Olsen
- The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Consistent daily focused effort is boring but extremely powerful.
And that's why in 2019 I want to take it to more of an extreme than I ever have before.
Consistency will be the key theme for my entire year.
Aren't you already consistent?
I've had periods of consistency in some areas. Usually I'll have two or three of these per year and they'll last anything from one to three months.
In other areas I'm doggedly consistent. I've been pretty much working out at least three times per week for 15 years, for example.
It's not a bad foundation, but now I'm shooting for the sweet spot of well-rounded consistency across many disciplines at once...for a year.
"What would my life look life after one year if I executed, every single day, without failure?"
That's the question I want to answer at the end of this year.
What does this mean, specifically?
It means doing the following, every single day:-
- My daily writing ritual (this is made up of answering questions about the type of person I am, writing down my goals, writing some affirmations and providing status updates on where I'm at with my objectives)
- At least 2 hours of deep, focused work. At the moment, I'm filling this time by writing specifications documents for my software company. In the future, though, this activity may be replaced by something else. The important thing is that I focus my attention on something, without distraction, for at least 2 hours daily.
- Reading personal development books while taking notes. I have 59 books to get through this year in order to complete the personal development challenge I set for myself a few years ago. That's five books a month.
- Consuming a healthy, green shake. My daily shake that consists of kale, spinach, almond milk, frozen berries, banana (or some other kind of fruit), turmeric, black pepper, ginger and flaxseeds is often the daily task that gives me the most resistance. This power shake, inspired by a great book "How not to die", will hopefully keep me alive for a while.
On top of these daily habits, I'll also be aiming to:-
- lift weights three times per week
- practice my pool game (billiards) three times per week
- create two self development videos per week (from March)
- bring back my habit of daily meditation
- create one blog post for Warrior Habits each week
These commitments are all on top of any other stuff I need to take care off while looking after the two companies that I co-founded and just generally living my life.
Monthly Consistency Reports
This year will be the first time that I've introduced a monthly "consistency" review to my schedule.
I think this will be a worthwhile additional practice that allows me to "total up" my consistency score for the month, while giving me a chance to journal and reflect on how the previous month has gone.
I'm a bit of a track-a-holic. But it's one addiction I'm happy to have. I've noticed that tracking is crucial for keeping me focused so these monthly reports are going to be key to keeping me on the straight and narrow.
My "Consistency System"
For a few years now, I've been developing my so-called consistency system. This system comprises of a number of things that I deliberately do, most of them (not all) every day, to execute my habits even on days when I really don't want to.
This system involves
- A morning routine
- A daily writing ritual
- A system for dumping ideas and tracking daily tasks
- Making sure I have a streamlined environment
- Various tracking mechanisms and scorecards
- A daily schedule/routine with triggers and rewards
- Minimum commitments
- Implementation intentions
- Emotional kickstarting techniques for bad days!
- Journaling when I'm overwhelmed or notice some interesting thought patterns/emotions (CBT type stuff)
- Living by a philosophy or Code of Conduct that I've created for myself
I'm confident that after a few years of practising these techniques, I'm at the point where I can keep myself consistently productive for an entire year.
Of course there will be ups and downs, blips in the road, unforeseen circumstances and life will likely get in the way every now and then. But the important thing is to not drop the ball for long.
I aim to hit all my habits every single day, but accept I'm being slightly idealistic. In absence of a home run, I'm focused on making sure I never miss twice.
Embrace the Boredom
I've come to realise that too many people, myself included, are operating at the whim of whatever emotion bubbles its way up to the surface of consciousness. It's a dangerous place to live, perfectly captured by Jonathan Haidt's infamous metaphor.
- You don't feel like working so you procrastinate.
- You're bored writing so you lose interest and find something else to focus on
- You're scared of what they think so you don't contribute to the meeting
- You're afraid of failure so you postpone the launch
Mel Robbins calls out it perfectly in her book "The Five Second Rule":
"I don't know when we all bought into the idea that in order to change you must 'feel' eager or 'feel' motivated to act. It's complete garbage. The moment it's time to assert yourself, you will not feel motivated. In fact, you won't feel like doing anything at all."
When feelings take precedence, nothing gets done. Waiting to feel good, motivated or positive about a change or action that you must take is a recipe for procrastination and a life of inactivity.
While, on the surface, I'm aiming to be more consistent, at a deeper level I'm aiming to make the emotionally hard decision more often than I've ever done before with a bias towards action.
Notice the feelings, accept them, and do it anyway.
This practice, and I use that word "practice" deliberately because it's a skill that can be learned, is very difficult at first. But, just like anything you practice, it gets easier with time.
This is quite a serious challenge for me.
The last time I tried something similar to this, I worked my way up to an unbroken chain of 43. Not bad, but nowhere near a whole year.
Since then, I've developed my thinking and my system. I feel ready to take on this new challenge.
I'm intrigued to see if I my system is mature enough to pull this off. I'm also curious what I can produce and what kind of results a year of consistency might bring.
I'll document the whole process on this blog so stay tuned for my monthly updates.