The Art of Consistency
Lately on this blog we’ve nodded at new year’s resolutions, self-reflection, and changing things, people and ourselves. It still being January – marked in some parts of the world as Mental Wellness Month – in today’s blog post we’ll be examining how consistency can help us in our journey of growth and wellness. Thanks once again to Teyhou Smyth, our Centre therapist working out of London, for another thoughtful and practical article. Read it below and share with us on social media how you plan on being consistent this year.
Just how “routine” is your routine? Do you find yourself experiencing the same day over and over again?
No one likes to be tied too closely to a schedule, but there’s something to be said for consistency.
There is comfort and stability in sameness.
But too much repetition can result in rigidity, if one isn’t careful.
Life balance is a frequently used term in our culture in recent years. You hear it everywhere, from cereal commercials to doctor’s offices. It is a ubiquitous term and it certainly applies to the topic of consistency and adaptability.
Why Consistency Is Important
On the surface, it may seem as though consistency is a synonym for “boring.” No one wants to get into such a rut that they end up doing the exact same thing, everyday for the entirety of their lives. That sounds quite depressing, indeed.
Consistency doesn’t exclude adventure. It simply means that in our day to day lives we are able to maintain a steady direction; we are imbedded in a structure that stabilizes and offers a solid foundation to our days.
Consistency is important in a number of ways.
Consistency can teach us a great deal about what we value in life. Our habits and the tasks we make time for regularly should line up with our values.
If we examine our daily lives and notice a lot of time spent on things that don’t reflect our values, that is a good indication that things need to change.
Developing consistency across a variety of aspects of life (work, diet, exercise and self-care for example) creates a level of stability that enables us to focus on other important factors in life.
If these parts of our lives are stable and consistent, we can pay attention to other details and become less mired down by daily fluctuations in routine.
When we have consistency in the basics (getting out of bed at a consistent time daily, having a work schedule that is fairly steady, eating whole foods and exercising) it takes the guess-work out of each day, to a degree.
This type of stability decreases anxiety levels. A frenetic, ever-changing daily routine can be exciting in some ways, but can also promote a sense of instability and chaos.
Improves self-control and mastery:
Creating a pattern of consistency in life offers us the opportunity to practice greater self-control and willpower.
When we commit ourselves to consistency, we are dedicating ourselves to living in a particular way that we deem valuable.
Sticking to a pattern of behavior can be challenging, yet it builds our inner discipline “muscle” and is self-perpetuating.
It’s never too late to increase consistency levels in our lives. Even if we have lived decades with a pattern of inconsistency, we are not wed to it. All of us have the capacity to elect more stability in day to day life. It can seem like a daunting task, but there are some concrete ways to get started.
Evaluate your needs:
A good way to start building consistency is to determine the areas of your life that you are dissatisfied with.
Are you struggling with a certain aspect of life that keeps you tethered to a frenetic lifestyle? For example, sometimes if we are dissatisfied with ourselves or with a certain part of our lives, it can be challenging to commit to it consistently. Sometimes self-esteem challenges can also play into a difficulty committing to consistency. Evaluate your struggles in day to day life and determine the parts that are giving you the most grief.
Take Small steps:
Develop some baby steps toward consistency in the challenging aspects of life. If you are having a difficult time feeling motivated to exercise, for example, it may be connected to feeling badly about yourself or your body.
Work on creating a simple exercise routine that you can stick to consistently. Set yourself up for success. If you notice yourself trying to justify moving away from consistency, ask yourself what is contributing to it; what are the underlying elements of self-sabotage.
Keep it simple:
Resist the urge to develop an elaborate plan for consistency and structure. The more elaborate the plan, the less likely it is to work. Establish simple daily routines that bring your life stability.
Consider easier tasks such as starting a consistent bedtime routine and taking a daily walk. When you feel those things are mastered, set more complex goals for consistency, such as self-care for the mind, body and spirit.
Write it down and tell someone:
When we are setting goals for ourselves, writing it down and telling someone else about it makes it more likely that we will succeed. External accountability helps keep us motivated, it’s human nature.
Each of us has our own gauge of internal flexibility.
When we dedicate ourselves to a particular task or set of expectations, we respond according to our own inner gauge. Some struggle with establishing consistency and structure; people who are closer to this end of the spectrum are often far more flexible internally.
This high level of flexibility can be a benefit in some ways (perhaps more easy-going, less prone to anxiety).
It can also have its own set of challenges, including issues with focus, productivity and willpower.
Those on the other end of the spectrum thrive on consistency and structure. The upside to this side of the spectrum is reliability, focus and organization. The downside of this end of the spectrum is a higher propensity for anxiety, rigidity in thought and frequently struggling with external changes in life.
As we strive to move toward consistency in life, it is crucial that we continue to reflect on the art of balance.
Adaptability is a necessary trait for us to foster within ourselves.
If we become too rigid in our structure and consistency, it impacts our quality of life. On the other hand, if we become too lax in our self-discipline, we run the risk of declining self-respect, lack of motivation and decreased quality of life. Like in all else, moderation is key.
Check in with yourself to stay in a moderate zone with your levels of consistency. Ask yourself, “am I veering too far in one direction with my thinking?” (Thinking in extremes and behaving accordingly?)
“Am I living a balanced life that honors my values and the needs of my mind, body and spirit?”
Be patient with your journey toward consistency and balance. Healthy patterns are built over time and offer lasting benefits.
[This blog post originally appeared on Teyhou’s website www.livingwithfinesse.com]