Ever wonder why so many people make goals they never achieve? You see it all the time. In January, the gyms are full with people who want to change their lives. By February, most of these people have given up. But why? These people truly wanted to be in better shape, but so many of them failed.
I know from experience how hard it can be to achieve your goals. I’ve studied Chinese on-and-off for years. When I was 18, a friend suggested I study one Chinese character a day. I thought about it for a second, and imagined how long it would take me to learn 1,000 characters–nearly three years. That was far too slow for me, and so I started studying 20 characters a day–at that rate, I could learn the same amount in only 50 days.
I didn’t make it a single week.
It was hard, and I just wasn’t dedicated enough to do it. But strangely, one of the reasons I rejected one a day was that it just seemed too easy. I thought learning a language had to be hard–so I made it hard. Instead of integrating it into my life the easy way, I took the hard road and crashed and burned.
Fast forward to today. If I had taken his advice, I would know well over 1,000 characters by now. Instead, I’m still stuck at the level of a proficient beginner–I can order food and buy clothes, but can’t talk about complicated issues. I fell into the trap that so many people with goals fall into–they don’t integrate their goals into their life in a sustainable way. They don’t realize a simple truth: Consistency is more important than speed.
But how can you stay consistent? Here are 6 tips.
Get a partner
Whether you are going to the gym, learning an instrument, or practicing a language, getting a partner is key. A partner keeps you honest, and serves as a support. They know how hard it is to keep going through a rough spot, and they can help provide mental and emotional support. It’s also a great way to make a new friend, or deepen an existing friendship.
Write down your goals
If you don’t write your goals down, it’s far too easy to push them to the side, forget about them, or say “Ill do it tomorrow.” You are committing to a new lifestyle. Make the commitment to write it down.
Make it a routine
If you don’t make time for you goals, you’ll never achieve them. If you’re very busy, stick it into your schedule anyway. If you truly want to get it done, you’ll find a way to fit it in. And remember, it doesn’t have to be hard. Doing a little bit of jogging every day, or studying a little bit of Spanish everyday, will all lead to great results over time. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can transform your life in a week. It takes time. The good news is that you only need to take things one step at a time, at a pace that makes sense for your life.
Make your goals part of who you are
Saying to yourself “I’m a runner.” Is a much different mindset than, “I run to stay in shape.” The former is an identity change, where you move from your old self to a new self. The latter keeps your old identity—the one you wanted to change—completely intact, while simply adding a new aspect of yourself. If you want to make real change, you need to change yourself. You need to, as Michael Jackson said, start with the man (or woman) in the mirror.
Consistency over speed
Achieving your goals depends on you changing your habits. If you want to lose weight, you’ll have to cut out some sweets. If you want to read more, you need to make time for it. Whatever you do, stay consistent. Even if you make relatively little progress each time you work towards your goals, the fact that you are trying will help push you through. If you fall off the wagon every now and then, don’t sweat it. Pick yourself back up and keep trying, because being consistent is the most important part of achieving your goals.
Different strategies work for different people. Don’t worry what other people say, do what works for you. But remember, if you prioritize consistency, you are already well on your way to achieving great results. If you want to learn more about habits and how to change them, you might try reading The Power of Habit, which is a great book about how habits influence our lives.