Sunday, March 20, 2022


Recently, I've been thinking a lot about consistency, mainly encouraged by two things. First, I've listened to the Dare to Lead podcast episodes in which BrenĂ© Brown speaks with James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits. Consistency and intensity played a big role in the conversation.

Second, I've had some beautifully inspiring conversations with my colleague Vernon Richards on how consistency can be key to a lot of things. One showcase example was his amazing series of "Ship 30 by 30" essays that had him write and publish posts each and every day. Check them out if you haven't already, they're truly insightful.

Overall, I can contribute lots of my own achievements to consistency. Not only my achievements, also my well-being - yet the same is true for the opposite as well. Be aware that this is just me speaking from my bubble here, things might look completely different in your context. Yet here's what's going on in my head about consistency.

Make Consistency Your Friend

Looking back, much of my success is rooted in consistently showing up and taking action. I've never been the best at what I do, yet whenever I did useful things consistently it paid off well for me. At work, this mostly shows when taking responsibility and also acting on my commitments. This can both create a perception of reliability, as I'm not only promising but also let action follow, as well as make me very visible - I'm showing myself through my contributions.

Another example would be trying consistently to improve things. It might be a tiny thing, yet if one tiny improvement is made every day, they add up. Make sure to check out GeePaw Hill and his approach of Many More Much Smaller Steps! Also, consistently delivering something good enough is a lot better than never delivering at all (and also never receiving feedback). This was a hard lesson to learn for me, yet allowed me to let go some of my unhelpful perfectionism - and the past years have proven over and over again that this is definitely the better way to go for me.

For my professional growth, consistency helped me a lot as well with my personal experimentation, my contributions to the community in various ways, even with just making time to learn and grow myself. Through consistently honing a skill - who would have thought - you gain lots of practice! Which again makes the next steps a bit easier. Also, I've built related habits for myself many years ago - tiny things I do every day that still help me achieve a lot. Not all of the things I tried worked out and became actual habits, yet once I figured what did work, I could keep them up for many years. And they paid off.

Looking into other areas of my life, consistency helped me a lot there as well. For example, doing a bit in the household every day does wonders for keeping things more under control than doing it sporadically in bursts. Or back in the day when I agreed to become a volleyball coach. I sticked to it over a longer period, and hence draw a lot of lessons for life and personal growth out of it. When consistently exercising, it's not as hard to do it anymore. When I stick to my sleep rhythm consistently, I'm feeling a lot better. Self-care in general! Since my last personal challenges, I made it a point to make time for certain activities that I only do for my own joy and pleasure - every week. Friends noticed I don't make much progress with these activities - yet the thing is, this way I do make progress at all while otherwise I would miss out completely.

As a side note, I do value consistency in general. I notice that when reviewing things, consistency (respectively its non-existence) is one of the aspects that usually sticks out to me, whether it was in focus of the review or not. When products are mostly consistent, I perceive them as more well-rounded than if they would not be. If texts use and spell terms consistently, they flow better and I don't stumble when reading.

On the other hand, whenever I let go of consistency that helped me (e.g. by dropping activities or postponing tasks), things quickly get overwhelming and I feel I'm losing my grasp. I observe this for example with all my private messages and notifications - if this pile grows too big, I feel its crushing weight. The more it grows, the less I want to face it and hence keep it growing. If instead I make sure to respond to some each day, it stays manageable. Also, when letting go of consistency, it gets so much harder to start again - like exercising, or just writing this blog post. I haven't been as consistent with blogging the last years as I had been before. Sustainable pace can really do wonders. That being said, I don't think we should keep up doing things just because we've always did them. We need to think about purpose, what's helpful and what not.

One of the worst things for me personally happened when I stopped showing up as I used to. I faced this with volleyball the hard way. I've put a lot into this sport for so many years and also had quite some personal achievements there. Yet as soon as I stopped showing up consistently and putting in that effort, I've taken myself out of the game - especially mentally. The more I put myself to the rim, the more I was put there as well by everyone else. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy - one that really hurt, more than I can say. Especially realizing I had a big part in that myself. And it was and still is really hard to pull myself out of there and show up again - consistently.

Be Aware of Impact

So, consistency is great, right? Well, as with everything, this depends a lot on what impact my actions have. If I do something consistently that's harming others or myself, I'd argue consistency works against people. A system, which is designed to maintain itself, might be consistent yet not necessarily be good at all. If I consistently overwork myself, my health will deteriorate. Yet also if I consistently grab a task at work, I'm contributing to creating a silo - this task might not be picked up by anyone else anymore, they might not be able to build up the required knowledge and skill to do it, and I'm stuck with it. Despite being consistent, the impact of our actions might not be desirable.

In my experience, the more consistent our behaviors or habits, the less energy it costs to keep them up. Independent from the impact they might have. Therefore, let's have a look at what we do consistently, which impact this has on us and everyone else, and if this fits to our values and what we want to achieve.

What about changing our behaviors to have different impact then? Isn't consistency contradicting change? While it might sound like it, they can instead even play into each other's hands. Just think of all the continuous improvement approaches and how to make consistent change.

The bottom line for me is that consistency is just an aspect that can work either way. So, let's make good use of consistency and have it work in our favor.

Look for Opportunities

Am I going back to consistently writing blog posts? Well, I don't know yet. I tried last year and it didn't work out then. If anything, we'll find out together. Fortunately, there are many other ways I can make consistency work for myself, every day.

Yet what about you? Think about opportunities where consistency would help you in your life. How might it look like if you started doing things consistently? And what's stopping you from trying it out?