That is exactly how many days we have left in the year 2017! With this overwhelming thought, I’m starting to think about how my year 2017 has been: accomplishments, challenges, failures, lessons, etc. From these flurry of efforts, one thing stands out the most; learning about something I did not know before. When I say “learning”, I don’t mean the academic or technical knowledge, but more of a philosophical one: a lesson about ME.
The biggest lesson I had in the year 2017 is not some earth-shattering / prize worthy scientific discovery, rather, it was something of ordinary/everyday wisdom: CONSISTENCY, more precisely the POWER OF CONSISTENCY. Before you start questioning how the simple/mundane /everyday idea of doing (or not doing) routinely has anything to do with this year’s biggest lesson, please hear me out.
No Consistency No Success
A few months ago, I read an article with the title, no consistency no success in Linked in. I remember thinking how absurd to make a blanket statement like this-it implies somehow the method/ approach/skill set does not matter when it comes to success, rather it is all about grinding at work (aka “working hard” rather than “working smart”) However, I had to admit I was intrigued…who wouldn’t be? In order to have favourable results in any efforts, all I have to do is to do things routinely! That sounds easy. You see, at the time, I was having a difficulty with one of my “forever” life goals of trying to get up in the morning early, precisely at 5:30 AM. With running an architecture practice added to managing the daily “expanding” todo list for this online design magazine, my only available time to work seems to be morning hours, really early morning hours.
I have always been envious of people who can get up early in the morning in the past… the image of early morning exercise, coffee, on one hand, flipping newspapers on the other hand, and looking all presentable leaving home for work with the perfectly organized bag is a huge obsession of mine. I wanted to be one of those calm and cool people who can seize her day! However, the reality was far from it; my morning routine was more like this – snoozing the alarm clock more than 3 times, half sleepwalking towards the bathroom, brushing teeth/washing face/drinking coffee and then putting on clothes/ reading emails (all at the same time). Trust me, it can be done! I admit I am pretty good(?) at accomplishing my morning routine to under 25 minutes. With years of practicing this routine, I was convinced that I was forever doomed to my speedy (but scary) morning ways.
Same Routine Same Time
So imagine my interest in the article, No Consistency No Success. The author who is the business coach gave the example of how he helped his client’s business challenges with changing the client’s personal routines. He told the client to workout at the SAME TIME every day. Initially, the client thought he did not hear her problem correctly; it is her business challenges, not her exercise program. His explanation was simple:
“CONSISTENCY builds DISCIPLINE, disciplined action done consistently create SUCCESS.”
The idea of doing something steadily (exercise) even if is not related to her initial challenge (business problems) helps to build a momentum: confidence to tackle one challenge after another. In her case, a regular exercise program helped to create another consistent effort; contacting the new and past clients for more business opportunities on a consistent time basis. Guess what happened to her business! Started getting more business opportunities and it all started with her new exercise routine!
My coffee + alarm clock test
After reading the article. I decided to test the theory of consistency. I decided to come up with one routine task that can help me get to accomplishing my lifetime goal of getting up in the morning, precisely at 5:30 AM. I knew it has to be something I enjoy (very easy) to accomplish: COFFEE. I decided to incorporate my morning coffee to my glorious 5:30 AM alarm sound. I was ready!
It has been four months since I started my coffee experiment (AKA Operation 5:30 am), and I dare say it has been a pretty good effort so far. It does not always help me to get up, but it is getting easier… a lot easier than my past trials. One surprising element of consistent approach method is that my view towards efforts is also changing. In the past, I tend to think about things in black/white, yes/no, good/bad terms; either you succeed or you don’t. There are no trials. However, this time, I am learning that incremental success each day can make a huge difference over time!
I still cannot say I am succeeding at the Operation 5:30 AM at the 100% level, but more like 75% of the time. (ok, more like 70%). However, with this new found wisdom of incremental effort, I can say I am working towards getting to remaining 25-30%.
What was your year 2017 have been like? Anything you want to share? Successes and Failures? Biggest lessons? It is your time to tell us.