I have a great app, called TimeHop, that reminds me each day of what I’ve posted on social media one year ago, two years ago, and so on. The other day it reminded me of a word I’d chosen to represent all my good intentions for one particular year: consistency.
The promise included running regularly, writing daily, doing a better job of avoiding the foods that make me feel unwell, etc…
However, I obviously didn’t pay much attention to the promise to myself because years later consistency is still my weakness. Other than yoga classes, exercise is an on-and-off thing. Writing regularly became writing almost never. And I still battle daily the urge to eat foods that cause me health problems.
Why is this so?
Leo Babauta over at Zen Habits wrote a great article about this issue in his post 10 Reasons Why We Don’t Stick to Things. In summary, the ten reasons are:
- We don’t take it seriously.
- We just forget.
- We run from discomfort or uncertainty.
- We give in to temptation, out of habit.
- We rationalize.
- We renegotiate.
- We dislike the experience and avoid things we dislike.
- We forget why it’s important.
- We get down on ourselves or give up in disappointment.
- There are too many barriers.
I’m guilty of all ten reasons. Let’s take my health as an example: While do not have celiac disease, I am very sensitive to gluten. When I include gluten in my diet, I suffer from fibromyalgia-like symptoms (I get brain fog, I hurt all over, and I become increasingly inflexible), my rosacea flares up, and I gain weight as if I were eating double the calories I’m consuming.
- And yet, when faced with eating better, I say “m’eh, tomorrow” as if my health wasn’t important.
- Put a shortbread cookie in front of me and it’s in my mouth before I remember that I’m not supposed to eat it.
- Given that the anti-gluten craze is at an all-time high, I feel uncomfortable telling people I can’t eat it because I don’t want them to think I’m some sort of food fad follower.
- I adore anything that is wheat-based: bread, cake, pie, cookies, pizza — you name it; if it has wheat it in, I love it.
- My favorite rationalization is that “one day won’t hurt me” but then one becomes two, or three and then a month.
- I also tell my body that it’s overreacting and that a little gluten won’t hurt it, that tomorrow I’ll do better.
- I’m not a fruit fan, and hate having to make myself other food, or choose not to eat out. It’s too awkward and uncomfortable to make healthy choices.
- And once I’m off gluten for a while and feeling fantastic, I completely forget what it’s like to be in pain and fuzzy-headed.
- When all of the above reasons for not avoiding gluten don’t work and I indulge on pizza and sandwiches, I tell myself that it’s impossible and I should just learn to live in discomfort.
- And finally, Spain has a bread-based culinary culture. While there are more and more non-gluten options available, they are usually more expensive and rather cardboard-like in taste and texture. As a foodie, eating healthily is a nigh impossible task.
I could run through the same exercise with my fitness regime, my writing, and to be honest, with any goal I’ve set myself. When it comes down to the word consistency, however, all ten reasons are excuses. There’s only one question I have to ask myself.
How much do I really want this?
I’ve achieved a lot of goals in my life, and difficult ones at that. And in every case, the success has come from being able to answer this question with the following:
I don’t just want this, I am driven to follow this path to the end.
If consistency is a challenge for you as well, perhaps the words of others might help you create that drive for success that you’re currently lacking.