In January I chose my word of the year – consistency. The first quarter of 2017 has proved humbling. I’ve concluded I still have much to learn when it comes to possessing the discipline to continue with a plan or habit. The last 3 months have taught me it is so easy to miss a day of a certain habit I am trying to incorporate in my life and then realize shirking one Tuesday translates to giving myself permission to skip the entire month. I’ve learned I cannot take breaks with the habits I am trying to master because one missed day somehow pushes me to start over again, not immediately, but some unspecified time next month. This translates to living a haphazard life and I realize some days certain events, like the car repair, the sick child or the unexpected “something” will wreak havoc on my schedule, but I also am cognizant that these interruptions evolve into convenient excuses.
Writing these words led me to reread Mark Manson’s “What Do You Really Want Out of Life?,” and the following excerpt, “If you find yourself wanting something month after month, year after year, yet nothing happens and you never come any closer to it, then maybe what you actually want is a fantasy, an idealization, an image and a false promise. Maybe what you want isn’t what you want, you just enjoy wanting. Maybe you don’t actually want it at all.”
I sat down and examined why I hadn’t remained consistent with a certain habit and most of the time it was because I sabotaged myself. My willpower wasn’t strong enough or I didn’t sleep well the night before or I hadn’t rose early in the morning or fill in the _______________________. I reevaluated my list and decided if I wanted to succeed at meeting some of my goals, I’d have to change my ways. I read once, that doing the same things over and over will lead to the same results. So much of these words makes sense, but I believe as we age, we tend to give in to who we are and instituting any kind of change (whether small or large) requires a gargantuan effort. It isn’t easy to think about what the change needs to be, implementing it and then following through, especially amidst all our other responsibilities – work, parenting and managing a household, and living a life.
In late December, I’d toyed with the idea of bullet journaling. I’ve always responded well to writing things down as opposed to logging items digitally. I am still a Luddite when it comes to calendaring too. My favorite calendar is still the At-A-Glance spiral notebook I’ve sported since I was in college. A visual map is important for my mind to quantify what needs to be done and I love putting a line through my completed tasks. Sometimes I even write a task I’ve finished, just to cross it out.
Thanks to my friend Nina Badzin and her post about bullet journaling, I started tracking my monthly goals as well as my weekly and daily tasks. Although I’ve had many failures at meeting some of my goals, I’ve also had some consistent success. I’ve meditated more in the last 3 months than my entire life, my to-read pile is slowly turning into books I’ve finished and I’ve been more consistent with my running and exercise in general. The places were I need help center on drinking more water, abstaining from my soda consumption and working consistently on my manuscript. Knowing exactly where I need to improve is increasing my awareness on mindfulness and whether or not I want a particular goal enough. I’ve realized then it is likely time to reevaluate my goal and not necessarily make myself feel bad for my lack of discipline.
Over and over, through studying successful people, listening to their habits and what they believe is the catalyst for achieving goals a common thread emerges – they are consistent with whatever they need to do to achieve those goals. These people are talented (there is no doubt), but they have the ability to recognize that setting consistent goals and following-through is a tangible and practical way to get there. When they suffer a setback, they don’t give up, but start again.
Do you bullet journal or do you have some tips on being consistent? I’d love to hear from you.