I’ll be the first to admit – sometimes life seems tough, and that’s because it is. As I discussed in an earlier blog post the road to success is never linear.
“As a human being, I realize how important it is to understand that the road to success, no matter what the goal, is a rocky one. There will be bumps, there will be obstacles, and you may even trip and fall once or twice (or a hundred times), but as long as you never stop moving forward, you’re making progress and things WILL turn around. You may not see results day to day, week to week, or even month to month, but with persistence, perseverance, grit and a little bit of faith, progress is inevitable.”
This post is about how to stay the course when life gets tough and I’ll do my best to explain why I think it pretty much comes down to one word: consistency.
Before I continue I should note that while I discuss “bad days” in this blog, I am using that term to denote literal bad days as well as anything in life that is tough (adversity, obstacles, set-backs, mistakes, slumps, ruts, etc.).
I think most of us have an intuitive sense of what it means to be consistent. However, for the sake of being thorough, let’s define “being consistent” as adhering to something (principles, behaviors, etc.) over time (i.e. acting or doing something in a similar manner over time).
For some reason consistency seems to take a backseat to intensity in modern society and I can see why; consistency isn’t glamorous, consistency isn’t exciting and consistency sure as heck isn’t easy.
But, consistency is what gets results.
As a borderline gym addict, I feel that exercise is beautiful example of why consistency trumps intensity.
Let’s say it’s been a while and you decide that you want to get back in shape so you go to the gym for the first time in a while. You grab your gym clothes, head over to the gym, blast some – insert favorite music here – and put yourself through the most intense workout you’ve ever endured.
You gave it your all – you’re exhausted.
You get home from the gym, walk into the bathroom, take your shirt off and look in the mirror… and…. nothing – you look exactly the same as before your workout. A bit discouraged you decide to stick with it and you crush another workout the next day. Again, you rush home to check for progress in the mirror and again… nothing – you look exactly the same.
You repeat this process for couple more days and still don’t see any results. Discouraged, frustrated and upset you conclude that exercise must not work for you – even though deep down you know that it does. Can you point out the flaw in this logic?
Exercise, like most things in life takes time and consistency to reap rewards.
The lesson here is twofold and applies to all areas of life, not just the gym.
1. Intensity isn’t the answer. It’s consistency that gets us to where we want to be, whether it is in the gym, in the workplace, in school and anywhere else in life. 2. Don’t give up when you don’t see progress. Change takes time and its imperative that you have faith, stay the course and keep grinding.
I think Simon Sinek does an excellent job of putting consistency into perspective in an interview with Tom Bilyeu of Impact Theory.
“It’s not about intensity, it’s about consistency…. if all you do is go to the dentist twice a year, your teeth will fall out. You have to brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes…” Simon Sinek
If you’re interested in hearing the rest of Simon’s interview, I would highly suggest checking it out here.
If the importance of being consistent still hasn’t quite clicked, I’m hopeful that this math analogy will make some sense. Don’t worry, I promise this is some pretty basic math that everyone can appreciate.
On a graph with a lot of data points (days), we can see that some days will be better than other and that over time, we can create a line that best matches the overall trend of our days.
If we take a close look, we can see that the line is an average of all the data points (days). In other words, the overall trend is affected by the sum of all of the data points (days) not just one by itself.
If you haven’t gotten the point yet, let me be about as straightforward as I can. One point can’t define the slope of a line.
Using the line analogy, we can put bad days into perspective. We all have bad days. We all make mistakes. We all face obstacles.
But, those bad days don’t define us. What defines us is what we do in response to those tough days. What defines us is what we do day-in and day-out. What defines us is our action over time. So no matter what happens. No matter how bad of a day you had. No matter what you’re dealing with.
Keep moving forward, accumulate those “good days” and trend upward.
While I know this is all easier said than done, here are some things I’ve found helpful for shaking off a tough day.
- Know that growth, change and results take time. Understanding that progress and change take time is one way to help put a single bad day (or even string of bad days or weeks or even months) into perspective – we are defined over the course of an entire lifetime – don’t let a few bad days, weeks or even months hold you down.
- Believe in what you’re doing. If you truly believe that what you’re striving for is worthwhile, commit yourself and stay the course. Have faith and trust the process (shout out to the 76er’s).
- There are only two things we have complete control over in this life: attitude and effort. Wake up each morning knowing that you get to make a conscious decision about your attitude and your effort. Choose to have a good day. Choose to see the best in people. Choose to run the day and give your absolute best effort to everything you do.
- Use your support system; ask for help, its ok. Trust me, I’ve been there. I’ve been down in the dumps and I’ve felt like I was alone in my struggle and suffering. No matter how small or large the issue, problem, setback, etc., don’t be afraid to lean on your support network for a little or big pick-me-up; there is absolutely zero shame in that.
On that note, if anyone out there (whether I know you or not) needs someone to talk to, or any encouragement, please feel free to reach out to me – I’d be honored and more than happy to help in any way I can!
Before closing, I feel that I should also point out that not only is consistency effective for making change, but consistency is admirable.
On the surface, being consistent seems pretty straightforward. However, beneath the surface, it becomes obvious that being consistent encompasses a host of other admirable traits – effort, commitment, dedication, accountability and perseverance just to name a few. Because of the deep-seated roots of what it takes to be consistent;
Consistency is comforting – people who are consistent are dependable and people like that.
Being consistent will not only earn you results but it will also earn you trust and respect. Being consistent is effective, admirable and as about straightforward as it gets as long as you’re willing to put in the work.
Being consistent is the simplest and surest way to get what you want. Whether it’s pursuing a concrete goal, trying to make a life change or just trying to be a better person, consistency over time is more powerful than anything else out there.
Having lived in Philadelphia for the past 18 months I feel obligated to incorporate at least one Rocky quote into a blog and there feels like no better time than now.
“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!” Sylvester Stallone, Rocky Balboa
It’s not always going to be easy.
You’re going to get knocked down.
Get back up. Be relentless. Be consistent.
You will come out stronger on the other side.
Thank you for reading!
Joe Rinaldi, PT, DPT