Consistency is the Hard Part

The one thing I consistently fail to account for when planning trips, especially shorter ones, is the disruption it will cause to my routine. For over a hundred days in a row, I wrote a blog post every day, did a Chinese lesson, worked on SETT, and a few other things for which I hold myself accountable.

I went to Peru for ten days, and although I started off strong, jamming in the blog post and Chinese lessons on my flights and bus ride to the Andes, once I started hiking I stopped doing those things. No real foul there, because breathing and walking had become difficult first priorities. When I got back to civilization, still in Peru, I resumed working hard on SETT, but I stopped doing Chinese lessons. I was practicing Spanish every day, though, so that made it okay. I wrote a monster blog post about Peru and sort of let myself coast on that. After all, it was a lot longer than my average post.

I got back to San Francisco and had only a week before I was going to Mexico. That week was great. I felt bad about being off schedule, so I used that as motivation to get back on. I rated three of those days as As and four as Bs, which is a pretty solid week. Next there are ten days completely missing from my schedule. I remember them, though. I worked on SETT every day while I was in Mexico, at a reduced capacity, as expected. I did a couple Chinese lessons, but was speaking Spanish, and fell behind on blog posts. Maybe I wrote four during those ten days.

Again, I got back and got back on schedule, but this time with less consistency. One day I gave myself an F and didn’t even write any notes on the day. A few others I got Ds. There are As and Bs, too, but not as many as there should be.

Two weeks later I left for China, where I stayed for three weeks. I worked hard on SETT the whole time, but barely wrote any blog posts. Worst of all, I didn’t keep a daily log. Then I got back, and like magic, my habit of daily tracking was gone. So were Chinese lessons, and so was blogging.

I’ve been back for a couple weeks now and I don’t think I’ve written any blog posts besides the gear post. I haven’t tracked a single day. I’ve done good work on SETT, but it’s my overwhelmingly major priority, so that’s sort of a given at this point.

I go through this whole sequence not to flagellate myself, but to think about it and examine what went wrong. I accept that I’ll make mistakes, but my rule for myself is that when I make a mistake I own up to it, figure out what went wrong, and get back on the horse.

So I’m in the saddle today. I kept my daily accountability journal, planned my day, and wrote this blog post. I haven’t done a language lesson because I’m going to switch back to Japanese focus for a few months before going there and I haven’t worked out a game plan yet.

What went wrong? I forgot about the most important thing– consistency. It’s WAY better to do a terrible job on habits than to not do them at all. Better than not recording a day is recording it with blanks. Better than that is recording it with guesses. Better than not writing a blog post is writing a paragraph on my phone about how I ran out of time or motivation or whatever. Better than that is writing a really bad post that never makes it to the light of day. At least these actions keep the consistency. That’s the hard part.

You could have an incredible day today. You could tackle the most important thing on your todo list with all of your attention. You could handle those half dozen errands that have been piling up. You could write a great blog post. You could call the people who are waiting for calls back. That’s the easy part. I’m sure we’ve all had manic days like that where everything just clicks and we feel superhuman.

But how do you get a week like that? You work on it every day. Some days you perform at an A, others at a D, but as the weeks and months and years pass by, your average inches upwards along with your standards. Eventually you have a week that feels like a B or a C, but if you had looked at it a year prior you would have called it a definite A.

I’ve been really consistent about two things, blogging and programming. I have tons of work to do on both, and wouldn’t claim to be an expert on either, but that’s how my progression has been. An average blog post now is better than my best ones used to be. The amount of useful work I can add to SETT per day is probably 3-5x what it was two years ago.

Not always, but very often the hardest parts of things are the most valuable parts. That’s true of performance. One of the hard parts of it is consistency, but consistency is the very foundation of high performance. Keep chugging away, putting in work, getting better, and eventually you’re good. Keep at it and you’re great. Then excellent.

So consistency is the hard part, but it’s also the good part. There’s a meta element to this, that the more consistent you get about being consistent on things, the easier it becomes to maintain that consistency. That’s how you really accelerate, compounding the wins you’re creating.

As for me? I’m back to being consistent on a few of my things, and today is day one. Again.

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