In performing better work, getting fitter, eating healthier or achieving some level of success in most areas of life, a large number of people realise that being consistent pays off. Everyone wants to achieve greatness or successful results in various endeavours but few people manage to be consistent in their pursuit of such goals. In cases where success is not the end-result, the lack of consistency is often identified as the root cause of failure.
The Hamburg nights
This story is repeated so often you have probably seen it before, but it serves as a great example for showing the value of consistency. In the early 1960s a British band would perform for 8 hours a day, 7 days a week, near military bases in Hamburg, Germany. They did this for 270 days over 18 months. The band needed to put food on the table and they were also committed to a contract they had signed. The band eventually managed to achieve some commercial success in 1964 and by that time they had consistently performed over 1200 times. That is more than the amount of times most bands get to perform over their whole careers. This was extraordinary and definitely not an overnight success. When this band first left for Germany, they weren’t very good. But by the time their Hamburg stints ended, they sounded like no other band in the world. This band, arguably the most successful British band of all time was the Beatles. The Beatles went on to write amazing hits like She Loves You or I Want to Hold Your Hand within a year of coming back from Hamburg and also came up with groundbreaking songs outside the rock ‘n’ roll genre of Hamburg like Yesterday or Eleanor Rigby.
Just as it did for the Beatles, being consistent in your efforts eventually pays off.
How to become consistent?
- Be Realistic. Start with a small goal that is achievable, and gain momentum from there.
- Schedule things and set up automatic reminders. You can be motivated, but if you forget to do the work then you will not make any progress. Setup triggers that work with your life, link your goals to an already existing behavior.
- Your environment should support your goal. If you want to avoid distractions for example, ensure your phone’s notifications are turned off or are on silent when you are working, or if you are a student you can go and work in the library as opposed to your room.
- Hold yourself accountable and develop yourself further by getting “accountability buddies.” These are buddies who will help you get back on track when you break your consistency.
- Track your behaviour so you can see if you are really working on your goals consistently. Last year, for a few months I kept 4 retrospective calendars to track important goals I had set for myself. At the end of each month I had a clear visual report of whether I was being consistent or not.
Consistency is a fantastic trait and one that you should definitely work to cultivate. Remember, however, that it’s a trait that can take time to practice. Amazingly, consistency not only elevates you to higher levels of success, it also makes your work so much easier.