Something I have always struggled with is consistency. Building lasting habits and follow-through in my life. Whether it comes to exercise, writing, or self-care, it seems that every time, my self-discipline lasts for a week, a month if I’m lucky, before everything falls of the rails once more and I’m thrown back to square one.
Needless to say, it’s a frustrating cycle, leading to some very toxic self-talk often involving the word ‘lazy’ (among others.) And it’s one that I’m still learning to navigate. Some of the strategies that have worked for me include setting many alarms, keeping a diligent calendar, lists upon lists upon lists, working with a wonderful life coach, and giving myself extra-large time-cushions prior to events.
My biggest struggle has always been with self-directed projects. When someone else is counting on me to get it done, I am nearly guaranteed to meet the appropriate deadline. Attribute it to stress, or people-pleasing, or a desire to be seen as reliable and professional. It’s why I’m fully capable of organizing others’ lives (in my work as a PA, for example,) and completely at sea when it comes to my own.
I’ve tried to combat this by reverse-engineering my self-directed tasks and enlisting a friend or family member to hold me accountable. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen great success for myself through this method, but I do recommend giving it a try if it seems appealing to you. Another strategy that I sometimes use is to simply have someone else around while I work. Whether they are doing their own work or not, having a second presence there helps to keep me on task. Perhaps because it prevents me from getting side-tracked as easily. I view it as a form of passive-accountability, and when I’m able to ask for it and act on it, it’s highly effective.
My purpose in writing this post is partially to express a (hopefully) relatable experience for others, and to make some suggestions based on personal strategies I’ve tried. But mainly it’s to let you know that whatever you’re struggling with, I think it’s completely ok if you haven’t achieved consistency yet.
I have no idea how I come across as a personality, but I’ve been referred to as ‘responsible’ and ‘organized’ more times than I can count. Well, if you take anything away from this, know that no matter how put together someone appears, they could be struggling to apply those exact same skills to their own life.
Personally, I think it’s ok if you never get there. I’m not even sure it’s possible. I don’t say this to be morbid, but rather to foster a more forgiving environment when it comes to myself. I’m not sure there’s a person alive who eats healthy and goes to bed on time every single day of their life. I don’t even think that’s what I want.
The biggest change that I would still like to see in my own life is when it comes to creative projects, in my case writing. I have yet to understand why I can’t seem to build a lasting routine: whether it’s an issue with priorities, lack of motivation, unmet needs elsewhere in my life, writers block, or any number of other possibilities.
Even when it comes to this blog, I’ve already spent far too much time worrying about whether I’ll be able to post regularly. Current strategy: write when I feel like it. No not in a minute. Not once I finish this. Now. Right now, when I feel like it. So far so good.
Of course, this only works when you’re able to control and set your own schedule, which is a freedom I am very lucky to have right now, however much it results in my making the lifestyle choices of an opossum (a nocturnal creature that I had never seen prior to moving to Toronto.)
The point that I’m trying to make is that maybe it’s more normal than we’re led to believe to go through periods of high/low motivation and varying consistency. That said, if you experience a huge amount of unpleasant fluctuation then there could be other contributing factors (mental health, par exemple – speaking from experience.)
Ironically, my motivation is quite high at the moment, hence the publishing of this post. Not to be negative, but when it eventually dwindles, my goal is to approach it not with frustration, but with compassion, and I wish the same for you.
TL;DR: Consistency is hard and no matter how on top of it someone seems externally they could still be dealing with internal/personal struggle. Different strategies work for different people. I want to be kinder to myself and less frustrated when experiencing periods of low motivation.