Is Consistency Really The Key To Success?

[long post][homemaking][parenting][homeschooling] Have you ever read a book on how to be successful? I love books about success and self-development; it might even be my favorite genre.
Why? It's the cheapest way to get advice from people who not only know what they're talking about but who are also EAGER to share their methods to success with you! AND the awesome thing is you can read as many of these books as you want.
You can pick and choose which methods you think would be best to apply in your own life. But, unfortunately, nothing you read in these books is going to help you if you DON'T HAVE CONSISTENCY! And the funny thing is almost all of these books - well, actually, ALL the ones I read - share one same success method. Can you guess what it is? I think you already know ... It's CONSISTENCY!

Sadly, many people have a weird relationship with consistency. They know (at least in theory) that they should be consistent, but they don't think they have what it takes to be consistent. They look at successful people and think "They're different than me. I'm not capable of what they're capable of." (And when I say successful people, I don't mean those people on YouTube who are always showing off their fancy house and cars; I mean people who have something you wish you had whether it be confidence, a well-kept home, true joy, energy, etc.) How do I know this? Well, I used to think like that!

I had the hardest time with anything that had to do with routines. Actually, my life used to be quite the mess. I didn't even have the discipline to brush my teeth every day - let alone my kid's teeth! I knew I should be doing it but I didn't! (Honestly, I used to be a high-functioning train wreck. The teeth brushing thing is just one small example.) Then a reality check would slap me across the face. Like when my first child had multiple cavities in her teeth AT THE AGE OF TWO. I felt so ashamed and embarrassed. (I'm not excited to share this with you right now either, but I think it's important that I do.) The people at the dentist's office AND the man who had to pay the bill (my husband!) could see the evidence of my lack of consistency with something as simple as dental hygiene! (I know some people are just prone to cavities even if they brush regularly, but that was not the case here.) AND my poor baby had to pay for MY mistakes with pain. So sad.

So, what did I do with all that shame and embarrassment? I let it fuel my determination to FIX IT. I bought my baby multiple tooth brushes: one for each bathroom AND the kitchen sink, as well as one for the diaper bag so we could brush while out and about. I let her pick a mouth wash and a few bags of those cute easy flosser thingies for kids. I got on Facebook and told my friends about my daughter's new dental hygiene routine: "We're gonna brush right after each meal as well as when we wake up and before bed." Maybe if I presented myself in the right light I could feel redeemed for my failures.

Guess how long I stuck with my new routine? Any takers? Ok, fine I'll tell you. We stuck with the new "routine" for not one week, not three days, no ... WE NEVER EVEN GOT STARTED. All I did was go shopping. Yep, retail therapy and fake Facebook bragging. But I had the best intentions! I really was gonna try. Why did I fail? I had SUCH a good plan! (That was sarcasm.)

I'll tell you why I failed. I had a lot going on: I had some untreated and not-yet-diagnosed legit mental issues that stemmed from a deep-seated fear that I was not even aware of. And I was in denial. I was not kidding when I said my life was a mess. And I was not kidding when I said I was a high-functioning train wreck. (Read my About Me if you want to know more about that.) And now you're asking yourself, "Then why should I even take her advice?" You're gonna keep reading because you're here for a reason: you lack consistency too. Hopefully not as much as I did! But if you do, that's ok. My five simple steps will help you with that.

That tooth brushing (or lack of) story was from seven years ago. I'm not gonna pretend like my life is perfect now - we all have our struggles. But I have gone from not even brushing my own teeth regularly to making sure FOUR sets of teeth get brushed everyday! How's THAT for success? But in all seriousness, I've gone from having very VERY little control over my actions to having control over not only my actions but also my words, my thoughts, and my emotions. I'm healthy now and I've achieved SO MANY successes - all in one way or another because I was consistent. I'm not gonna lie to you and say I've reached every goal I've set, but I can tell you that every time I am consistent with something I achieve results.

For example ...

We just moved from Texas to Washington. We've been busy unpacking and getting to know the area. And then I suddenly decided to become a full-time blogger. The kids had also gotten into a habit of getting rowdy during bedtime, and it was causing my husband to lose sleep. I was letting blogging take priority over playing with the kids and cleaning, and we were keeping daddy up every night. It was time for a change.

The following steps can be applied to something you want to be consistent with. I will use my example from above to show what each step looks like.

1. Have a bottom-line. You can't want consistency for the sake of consistency. You have to have a goal behind it. What absolutely needs to happen? What is it that you really want? Take some time to think on this; this is the foundation of every subsequent step so you want it to be rock-solid.

     I want to play with my kids more. I want to keep at least the living room, kitchen, and bathroom tidy. I want the kids to be quiet at night.

2. Speak things that are not as though they are. Say, or at least think, "this is what happens everyday" even though it's not true yet. Have you ever thought "I told my friend I'd do such and such, so I better do it"? This is a similar concept, except you're accountable to yourself. You might think it's silly but don't knock it 'til you try it! Say it every day - bonus points for multiple times a day. You can write it down or type it where you'll see it often. This is the easiest step but it might also be the most powerful.

     I play with my kids. I keep my living room, kitchen, and bathroom tidy. My kids are quiet at night.

3. Think of one small, simple change that you can easily accomplish each day that will lead to meeting your goal. The trick here is to make it as small, as simple, and as easy as possible. It might take some creativity to think of it, but the more work you put in now, the easier it will be in the long run. If at all possible, link the new change to an existing habit or replace a bad habit with a similar but better one. This is a technique used by cognitive behavioral therapists because of how well it works. Speak these as though they were like we did in the previous step.

     I don't go on my phone or computer between 9 am and 1 pm (unless it's for an emergency or unless the kids and I are using it together). I Jojo-proofed the living room to prevent messes - this includes remembering and reminding others to keep the doors and baby gate closed. I quickly tidy up the living room, kitchen, and bathroom when hubby is on his way home and after he falls asleep. After brushing teeth, the kids lie down and quietly watch TV. (And see, this is where that bottom-line comes in handy. I usually encourage my children to read books in bed but sometimes that gets boring for them. Because I have a clearly defined bottom-line of helping them to be quiet at night, I can be okay with clicking on the TV which is more likely to work than giving them books. If the TV at night becomes a problem, I can address that later. But let's not let negative and limiting thinking cause us to give up before we even start.)

4. That one simple, easy change you came up with in step three? Do that everyday. If you do steps 1-3, step 4 will be easy peasy lemon squeezy.

5. Remember: sloppy success beats perfect failure. That means focus on what you're doing right.

     I might forget to speak my declarations one day. Jojo might get out of her baby-proofed area and make messes. The kids might get a jolt of energy that even TV can't pacify. Those are just hiccups. I might not- No. I DEFINITELY won't achieve perfection. But I know I can achieve success - even if it's a little sloppy. If you only have two choices would you rather fail perfectly or succeed sloppily? I pick succeed.

I wanna hear from you! What is your experience with consistency? Tell me in the comments. What struggles have you been experiencing? Maybe you have a bigger goal in mind - a huge vision! That's great! Consistency really will get you where you need to go. It's an indispensable skill to be able to stick with something positive whether it's big or small.

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