When you’re in your late teens and early twenties, life isn’t exactly known for its consistency.
You might be struggling to meet the deadline for school assignments, spending a lot of time trying to land a job, or just figuring out what you want to do in life.
But I’ll let you in on a little secret: If you can learn how to stay consistent with your goals now, you’ll find the chaos that’s a natural part of this stage of life will begin to recede some.
And the sooner you learn why consistency is so important, the sooner you’ll be able to start reaping the benefits of being a consistent, reliable person.
And don’t worry: This article isn’t going to tell you to stop having fun and just eat, sleep, work, repeat.
Instead, we’ll explore the true meaning of consistency and how it can actually make life more exciting. And we’ll explore how to be consistent with practical strategies that will bring you closer to your goals in life sooner.
Why is consistency important?
If you haven’t thought about it before, it can be tough to grasp why consistency is so crucial. But whether it’s staying committed to your fitness journey, building your career, improving your mental health, or achieving literally any challenging goal, showing up and putting in the work consistently is how you’ll get there.
But there’s more to it than that. Let’s look at how this concept compares to other ideas that are (for better or worse) closely related.
Consistency vs. monotony
You might hear the phrase “be consistent” and conjure up images of a boring life. One where you always get eight hours of sleep, eat boring but healthy meals, go to some mind-numbing job day in and day out, and follow a strict schedule. But this isn’t what consistency is about at all.
Monotony is when you have to do the same thing over and over with no progress or excitement to help you stay motivated.
Consistency is much more than just going through the motions; it’s about focusing on what you want to achieve in life and then making a plan to get there. Consistency brings progress, and progress is what a happy life is all about.
Even if your goals are work-related, you can be consistent and find purpose at work simultaneously without sinking into a humdrum life of monotony.
Lack of consistency vs. spontaneity
The relationship between consistency and spontaneity is complicated.
In some ways, you may think that being consistent means you can’t be spontaneous. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Developing consistency helps you focus on goals and achieve them faster.
As a result, you’re making a lot more room to be spontaneous, go on adventures, and act on a whim.
Beware of people who discredit the idea of consistency; they may label themselves as “spontaneous” to cover up their unreliable behavior.
Consistency vs. reliability
Consistency and reliability are close cousins because becoming more consistent also means you’ll become more reliable.
Surely you’ve encountered an unreliable person in your life: A colleague who is late to everything, a flighty and forgetful relative, or a fair-weather friend. Perhaps you’ve even fallen into one of these roles in the past.
These kinds of people are harder to rely on, and that has consequences. They’ll be seen as less trustworthy, which can lead to fewer opportunities and connections in life.
On the other hand, consistent people are reliable people. They are the friends who are always there when you need them most, family members who listen to you and remember important things, and colleagues who can be trusted to do their work well and consistently.
Now that you understand the benefits of being consistent, let’s look at a few practical things you can do to improve your own consistency and how to maintain that consistency throughout life.
Spend time thinking about what you want in life
Consistency can only help you achieve your goals if you know what your goals are. So as scary as it may seem, your first step should be taking time to think about what you want in life.
That might seem overwhelming, but it’s vital for becoming more consistent. In order to maintain a healthy balance of consistency and spontaneity, you need to focus your efforts around achievable goals.
For example, let’s say you identify that one of your goals is to learn conversational Japanese so you can live there for a few months after college. You might develop consistency by downloading a language app and setting notifications to do it every day or attending a monthly meetup with other Japanese speakers. You can consistently put money aside for your travels as well.
By putting in the time and dedication to be consistent with learning the language, you can get to Japan sooner and be more spontaneous when you’re there.
But until you identify your goals in life, you won’t be able to decide where you need to practice consistency. So start answering this big question with some of these resources:
Learn about the psychology of forming healthy habits
The habits you form will either make or break your chances of achieving your goals in life.
Healthy habits—like a regular exercise routine, dedicating time to studying and learning, or calling your best friend every Friday night to decompress—help you stay focused and motivated, moving you ever closer to your goals.
But on the flip side, unhealthy habits (anything from too much screen time to smoking) are very hard to break.
There are many resources out there about forming healthy habits and breaking bad ones. In fact, these two activities often go hand-in-hand because often, the easiest way to break a bad habit is to replace it with a good one.
For example, if you want to quit vaping, you’ll no doubt face challenges as you feel withdrawal symptoms. So what can you do? Perhaps a vigorous walk around the block to get your blood pumping can distract you from your craving long enough to push forward.
Maybe you have a bad habit of staying up too late every night scrolling on your phone. So instead, you plug your phone in to charge in another room and do some light stretching before bed to prepare for sleep.
Do these kinds of things consistently to push through the urges and cravings that come with bad habits and develop healthy new ones that get you closer to what you want in life.
Surround yourself with other consistent people
Staying consistent with your goals is much easier when you surround yourself with people who share the same aspirations.
Seek out people who are working on their own goals and committed to making progress every day. These may be friends and family members you already know, or you may want to make new friends who share the same goals.
When you find a few good people who share your desire for consistency, consider asking one of them to be your accountability partner—someone who you check in with regularly to report on your progress and can help keep you on track (while you return the favor).
Also, be mindful of the people in your life who may be preventing you from staying consistent. These can be negative, unsupportive people who simply don’t understand why you’re trying to make changes in your life. While you don’t necessarily need to cut these people out of your life entirely (unless they show toxic traits), you may want to limit your contact with them while you focus on your goals.
Use tools to improve consistency
We live in the golden era of tools, apps, templates, and resources—and many of these are designed to help you stay consistent and on track with your goals.
For example, if your goal is to become more consistent with your time management, you might use an online timer like Toggl to see where your time is going and monitor your improvements.
Or you might consider bullet journaling, a system of organizing your thoughts and goals using a notebook and pen. It can be a great way to stay focused and on track, especially if you prefer to write things down rather than use digital tools.
Check out these other resources for more tools and methods:
Monitor your progress, celebrate wins, and adjust your strategy
As you embark on your journey to becoming more consistent, it’s important to pause once in a while and reflect on how you’re coming along. When you’ve achieved something—great or small—take a moment to celebrate however you feel like it.
This is one of the best ways to focus on progress not perfection, which is key to building a happy life. Look at the small steps you’re taking, and allow yourself to feel good about them, so you can stay motivated and on track when things get tough.
When and how you celebrate wins depends on what feels good and what aligns with your goals. If you’ve been working hard on building a side hustle, for example, you might have a little celebration (a visit to your favorite pizza place) when you set your website live, but a bigger celebration (a weekend getaway) when you make your first 10 sales.
And remember, the goals you’re setting now won’t stay the same, despite your consistency. You’ll learn lessons along the way, and sometimes you’ll fail with your consistency. And that’s all right. Just get up, brush yourself off, adjust your strategy, and keep going.