My Circus Life Episode 80: The Consistency Challenge
Today I broadcast Episode 80 of My Circus Life, a (mostly) weekly livestream in which I share the life lessons I learn in training on flying trapeze and trampoline.
Today’s show was about the challenge of consistency.
Consistency challenges us on two fronts:
- How do we achieve consistency?
- Once we have consistency, how do we keep from falling into a rut?
The Short Answer: It’s Complicated
Through my experience in cultivating daily streaks across a number of desired activities, I’ve learned that this is a complicated endeavor with a lot of pieces.
In fact, I created an entire program around this, which addresses both of these challenges. This program is the foundation of The Ritual Revolution, my movement for living a life rooted in intention instead of reaction.
So obviously, I’m not going to give you all the answers here. If you have something you want to do consistently, and you want to learn more, you can register for The Ritual Revolution interest list.
In today’s show I shared a couple of tips.
Let’s start with how to achieve consistency in the first place.
That’s the problem that most people ask me to help them solve:
I want to do X, and I do it sometimes, but I don’t do it consistently. How can I do it consistently?
One of the ways to become consistent is to practice. Of course, it’s not enough to practice. You have to practice the right things, in the right way.
Poor practice and poor technique may create consistency in actions that don’t produce the results you want.
(2) Do it Messy
Another way I cultivate consistency is to “do it messy.” Consistency is a practice in letting go. In my daily blogging practice, I commit to published over perfect. Sometimes, it’s published over proofread. That’s far from ideal, but it keeps the streak alive.
Don’t Break the Chain
Jerry Seinfeld talks about how he writes at least one joke a day. He puts an X on the calendar when he writes a joke. The goal is to keep the chain of X’s unbroken. There is a lot of momentum in that chain. I do what I need to do to keep the chain unbroken
I get out of the house and go to the gym even if I can’t do a full workout and even if I’m exhausted. I go, partly, to go. The act of doing it maintains the consistency of the practice.
Once you’ve achieved a level of consistency, the challenge becomes maintaining that consistency.
Sometimes routine can become routine.
– Some people like this. They enjoy eating the same breakfast every day for years. They want life to be completely predictable.
I am not one of those people. My driving need is variety. I went into business for myself because I wanted the excitement of every day being different.
The risk of consistency is that it can lead to complacency. If you’re always doing the same thing, you deprive yourself of the opportunity to try new approaches. You lose the opportunity to grow.
How do you keep your routine from becoming a rut?
One of my strategies is a technique that I call bucketing, or consistency containers. (Because I really just have an unhealthy obsession with alliteration.)
The idea is that I maintain a consistent container for the type of activity, but within that container, I can vary the specifics.
For example, my morning workouts have recently fallen into a bit of a rut. That doesn’t mean I stop the workouts. Instead, I shake it up by doing something different in the container of my fitness first ritual. Maybe that means signing up for a class or getting back into the pool for a morning swim.
It’s a way to take a fresh approach to something I do daily.