The Tortoise and The Hare
Struggling with consistency? Set lower expectations for yourself.
We all know Aesop's fable, 'The Tortoise and the Hare' right?
The moral summarised is 'slow and steady wins the race'. It's a story of the importance of consistency.
The Hare has the ability to win the race, but he got distracted. His decisions were sporadic. He lacked discipline. He rested on his laurels. He didn't keep at a consistent pace which ultimately lost him the race, despite being the faster animal.
Consistency is both a blessing and a curse and it needs to be approached with caution and this is a lesson I have learned the hard way.
We live in a day and age where it is hard to be consistent. It's been written about so many times before, so I am not going to pitch the idea that our lives are full of distractions from social media and easy access to entertainment. Things crop up that have higher priorities than our goals. We go through waves of positive and negative mindset which impacts how we are able to focus. Life happens and we can't help that.
Consistency is not straight forward. Many of us think that being consistent means showing up the same time each week and committing the same amount of hours and energy to 'the cause', but this isn't correct.
We are way too critical on ourselves for how consistent we are with our consistency (inception!). If you set the expectations of yourself too high, you open yourself up to disappointment when those high standards are not met.
When I was starting off building a writing habit, I would commit to being continuous in my writing by vowing to myself to release two articles a week. If I didn't meet that criteria for whatever reason, I would find it as an excuse to give up. "I have lost my consistency, I am unable to do this".. whereas in hindsight, finding the will to continue where I left off would have still been making steady and tangible progress towards a goal in the longer term. It seems obvious when you think about it - but for many people it is genuinely a problem. Maybe you wanted to lose weight or gain muscle. Maybe you wanted to learn a new skill that required a lot of practice. We so often give up because we miss out on a completely fake internal measure we have set for ourselves.
The goal I set to write more was initiated several years ago and I have made very little progress since - how frustrating now to look back in retrospect and just to see that even a small amount each week would have added up to so much!
That is true consistency. Aiming to work towards something in particular over the long term and chipping away at it little by little. Frequency and duration doesn't really come into play. As long as you are showing up and intentional, then over time that dedication will be compounded and you will reap the rewards.
I watched a beautiful video by HINDZ on "soft productivity". There was a section of the video that really resonated with me about commitment and it highlights the effectiveness of just setting a small goal and sticking to it over the long term.
Our culture celebrates quick wins and overnight success'. The reality is that for 99.9% of us, these freak occurrences are just not going to happen and we need to work hard on something for a sustained duration to achieve success.
Last month I set the intention once more to write regularly. I promised myself to release at least one piece of content a week - which is very attainable. Anything I achieve over that threshold is over achieving, therefore. The boost to my mentality and motivation has been insane. It no longer is a pressure filled race against the clock to get a couple of articles released and potentially risking quality to hit my quota - it's not a case of everything I do is above my own expectations so I enjoy doing it more and feel more motivated to do so.
Honestly - it sounds counter-intuitive, but setting lower expectations has been one of the best pieces of advice I have ever given myself. It has enabled me to make initially slower progress - but this progress compounds. Once you stop chasing numbers and focusing on quick wins, the higher the quality of whatever you are producing becomes.
My time dedicated each week to writing has been variable, some weeks I have done a couple of hours, and some I have done over ten, but the fact that I am doing something is 1000x more productive than not doing anything at all.
So, if you are having trouble with consistency - is there a lesson you can learn from our good friends Tortoise and Hare? Could you move slower to move faster in the long term?
Has consistency let you down in the past? And how can you better harmonise with it?
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