Are you consistently inconsistent?
I think we can all agree that in order to get results in any area of our lives - and keep those results - we have to be consistent. Not perfect, but consistent. Whether it’s relationships, health, finances or work, what we consistently do (or don’t do) will determine what results we produce.
Notice I didn’t define whether the results in the above mentioned areas were positive or negative. I think many of us could agree that wherever we lack the kind of results we desire, it can be linked to inconsistency in doing the “right” things.
Here are some examples of consistency that produces positive results:
- Consistently saving money for our kid’s college or our retirement fund.
- Consistently going to the gym 3-5 times a week.
- Consistently scheduling a fun and romantic date night with our spouse every two weeks.
- Consistently being valuable and productive at work.
- Consistently eating healthy and drinking water.
- Consistently spending time with the Lord.
But then we get bored, right? We start to think that perhaps it isn’t that big of a deal to have a little fun, take a break, spice things up and do things a little bit differently. Or perhaps we get really exhausted and overcommitted and we start telling ourselves that it’s just too much effort to do x, y and z - so we default to something simpler. We trade our consistent behaviors for some inconsistent ones such as:
- skipping the gym a once or twice a week to work late or meet up with some friends for a drink and appetizers.
- drinking a glass or two of wine at night when we have a really stressful week.
- booking that $4000 trip to Mexico for 10 days and pull it out of the savings account.
- deciding to stay in and do what you do every night - watch our favorite TV series - instead of going on date night.
- spending time on social media at work and doing the bare minimum to get our paycheck.
- trading the time in the morning we usually devote to spending time in the word of God for checking emails and watching CNN.
None of these things are inherently wrong. But what we do consistently determines what we get. There’s no way around it. And sometimes our inconsistencies become our consistencies when we default to what “feels” good, easy and socially acceptable. In the moment it “feels” like the “right” decision but before we know it we sabotage the very things we value and desire most.
Let me switch gears for a minute, because I want to distinguish between perfection and consistency.
One of the biggest pieces of the freedom I now experience in my health was letting go of having to be perfect. I can remember the feelings of guilt when I would skip one workout during the week or the feelings of disappointment if my workouts didn’t feel that way I wanted them to. I also remember counting the calories of my bagel with cream cheese and large cappuccino and making a mental note to “make up for those calories” at my next meal. This mentality is what fueled my battle with bulimia. There was something addictive and fulfilling about being “perfect” all day and then at the end of the day binging (by stuffing my face with copious amounts of food) and then purging (yes sticking my finger down my throat and you know…) and feeling like all of that failure was erased, and now I was perfect again.
But the shame didn’t go away. I was horrified at the thought of someone finding out that who they thought I was, wasn’t who I really was - I was a fake. I was mortified to imagine people finding out how I really felt about myself and how I talked to myself - because then they might view me that same way too. So I did my best to appear (on the outside with how I looked, talked and achieved) to have it all together. But this was exhausting and lonely.
I realize now that my inconsistencies that I viewed as failures were actually “mini breaks” away from my daunting and restrictive road of perfection. I NEEDED them. I couldn’t mentally or emotionally survive without them - even though they were a form of mental and emotional torture.
Can anyone relate? (Please tell me I am not the only one!)
Let me pull this together now. We want to be consistent because we know doing the right things consistently will produce the results we desire in life. But we struggle with inconsistency and sabotage ourselves because we get tired, bored, curious, frustrated or impatient with the burden of being perfectly consistent. In the moment, we may feel good and entitled about our inconsistencies and the much needed break, but soon we realize that the feelings of euphoria are short-lived and the results really aren’t what we thought it would be. Repeat this cycle over and over and we can quickly become frustrated and stuck.
The key to balancing the fine line between having the freedom to be imperfect and not sabotaging everything you desire in life is intentionality. Most of us DEFAULT to our self-sabotaging behavior without ever intentionally making a decision. When we do this - we play the victim whether we like it or not. When we are inconsistent it has to come from a place of intention if you wish to stay in control.
Here is where the principle of 80/20 enters. I love to eat healthy, drink lots of water, workout, spend time with the Lord and empower women. I also enjoy pizza, wine, vegging out on the couch and dancing until my feet hurt at a concert. If I’m not being intentional - all of these latter things could sabotage what I desire for my health and life. But if I am intentional - they can actually enhance my life.
Here’s some examples of intentionality versus default (survival) mode.
- I don’t choose to eat pizza because it’s my default dinner because I didn’t go to the grocery store or I am too exhausted. I plan a whole night around pizza night that involve spending time with my daughter, Berlyn, while watching one of our favorite Disney movies and making a large batch of popcorn.
- I don’t skip a workout because I slept in or I picked up my phone five minutes before I was suppose to leave for the gym. I may choose to not go to a workout because I have an opportunity to speak or if my body needs a break.
- If Berlyn wakes up early and I miss my devotional time, I listen to a podcast while I am preparing breakfast and Berlyn is watching cartoons. If that doesn’t happen - it will happen during her nap time or right after she goes to bed.
- I get on Facebook for very specific reasons related to my business and keeping my family and friends up to date with Berlyn’s childhood. I do not randomly scroll through and watch the highlights of other people’s lives so I can get caught in the trap of comparison.
- I don’t choose to drink so I can numb myself and forget all my troubles. I love deep and authentic conversations and a glass of wine is a fun way to accentuate that experience. I also intentionally don’t drink alone.
All of these are examples of things that are not “perfect” in my journey. They are decisions I make that are inconsistencies in my journey that enhance my journey - not detract from it. In a future blog, I am going to dive deeper into this topic to explore the root beneath this whole process. But for now, I would like for you to explore these questions:
- What are the top four priorities in your life?
- What are the things you need to do consistently to produce results in these areas?
- What are the inconsistencies that creep into your life?
- What are some ways to create intention around the need for the inconsistencies?
God bless you! If you are interested in a free coaching session with me, I would be honored to hear about your health journey and support you in getting a game plan for your emotional and physical health goals! Schedule here.