Where We End Up Depends On Our Consistency

Photo by Hu Chen

We’re always reminded that we have to get in our “10,000 hours” in order to be good at something enough to truly be successful in it. Even right now, we know at least two people who adhere to this principle with their lives.

And if we look closely, there’s something much deeper at play that we tend to overlook. Putting 10,000 hours into something has nothing to do with the length of time we do it, but more or less, the growth that we achieve when we’re truly consistent with our passions.

Some of us are blessed with one gift that we can completely give our all to. Others have multiple that they’re trying to juggle. Both come with the limitations of time, social lives, emergencies, family, and other priorities that take precedent more often than not and balancing consistency and life can be among the hardest of tasks. We want to reach the precipice of our dreams, but the journey can feel so hard and the waves can overwhelm us.

So how do we do it? How do we reach our end goals while managing to live our lives in the process? It doesn’t mean having to sell out to our dreams. It means creating equilibrium between what we want and who we have to be.

Do It Until It Becomes Habit

On average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact.

In the short term, consistency may mean creating a routine in our lives so that it becomes a habit. While it’s uncomfortable, finding places in our day where we can lock in on learning and doing is essential to our growth in our passions. That won’t just happen. It takes a conscious effort and willpower.

Think about it, elite athletes don’t become elite by chance. They weren’t born elite. They had to lift appropriately, eat right daily, and learn constantly, using every day to create a consistent routine that affects their performances. That consistency, or what we call work ethic, is that driving force behind what they’re able to accomplish.

A common phrase that I’m sure we’ve heard used is that habit shapes our lifestyles. That’s 100% true. Our habits expose what we give our time too, whether it’s too much or not enough. Consistency can become a habit to us. When finding time for the right things becomes a part of nature, we’ll understand how to navigate the stream of balance so much better. We won’t have to force ourselves to put in work. It’ll simply be a part of us.

Focus On The Process

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education is not; the world is full of educated failures. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
— Calvin Coolidge

As children, we were always so enamored with what we could become. Firefighters, astronauts, teachers, doctors, and a wide assortment of people who could make a dent in the world. We knew nothing about the process, but we were all in and made sure to let everyone know about it. We still kind of hold on to those same childlike fantasies and one could argue that it can be to our detriment. Why? Because we get lost staring at the outcome and it discourages us about the process. Some of the things we’re reaching for can look so far away.

We ask ourselves:

  • What if this failure means that I should give up?
  • What will people think if they see me not doing well?
  • What if I try really hard and nothing happens?

The point of focusing on the process isn’t to distract us from the eventual outcome, but to show us that we are taking strides that wouldn’t be possible if we didn’t try at all. We can’t determine when the outcome we’re hoping for will happen, but we can control our perspective as we head towards it. The process is full of ups and downs, good days and bad days, powerful confidence and crippling insecurity.

A healthy view of failures and mistakes and an attitude of persistence, knowing that some days and seasons will be hard, has a way of shaping our outlook through our journey and whether or not we’ll be consistent enough to get to our end goal.

Consistency leads to continuous improvement. Continuous improvement leads to better consistency. It’s a cycle and to be a part of it takes a choice from us. It’s never been about putting in 10,000 hours worth of work. Where we end up has always been about how consistent to our passions we’re committed to being.

A writer and singer-songwriter centered around perspective and diversity. Words found on Medium’s Level and Marker. Follow me @JoshuaDairen on Twitter and IG.