Ever wonder why sticking to a routine or keeping up with New Year’s resolutions feels so hard? A bit like you’re Sisyphus, constantly pushing a boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down. The struggle is real, and you’re not alone! We’ve all been there.
Maybe you set your mind on a goal, swore to stick to a plan, only to stop once your motivation fizzled out. Whether it’s learning a new language, controlling your spending, or becoming more active, staying consistently on track is hard. But do you know why? Well, psychology has a few answers for you. Let’s dive in, shall we?
The Brain’s Tug of War
According to neurologists, our minds tend to strongly lean towards what’s predictable. We’re hard-wired to enjoy what’s easy, safe, and comfortable over what’s not. Often, when we struggle to stay consistent, it’s because our goal is neither of these things. For example, exercising more; going to the gym seems like such a hassle when we could just lay in bed all night, watching TV like we usually do, right?
But like the famous BoJack Horseman quote goes, “It gets easier. Every day, it gets easier. But you have to do it every day. That’s the hard part.” That’s why self-help experts recommend “The 10-Minute Hack.” Commit to doing a task for just 10 minutes, and it won’t seem so exhausting anymore. Often, getting started is the hardest part, but once you do, everything seems more manageable.
The Instant Gratification Monkey
Another interesting thing about our brains is that we crave immediate reward. So when you’re trying to be consistent, it’ll suddenly come up with so many other more fun, easier things to do, like watch Netflix or go on social media. Studying, for example, is more about long-term gain than instant gratification. Do it for too long and you’ll suddenly start thinking to yourself – “Just one more episode won’t hurt” or “I’ll start studying after a quick scroll through Instagram.” So instead of trying to study continuously for hours, experts recommend taking short 5-15 minute breaks in-between to satisfy your need for immediate gratification. This is called the Pomodoro method, a well-recommended studying strategy.
When you’re struggling to stay consistent with something, share your goals with a friend or a partner. That way, you’ll have someone to hold you accountable for your progress. Because without accountability, it’s easy to succumb to the whims of the Instant Gratification Monkey or the allure of procrastination. This leads to inconsistency because there’s no external force gently nudging you back on track or acknowledging your achievements along the way. But when you know someone is rooting for you, expecting updates on your progress, it adds a layer of responsibility that can be a powerful motivator. The fear of letting your accountability partner down can be just the push you need to stick to your commitments even when the going gets tough.
Procrastination, No Preparation
If you’ve made it this far, you’ll hopefully already have a good idea about why we procrastinate. Any guesses? Yup, that’s right. The instant gratification monkey – our brain’s love for immediate satisfaction! Fortunately, there are plenty of techniques you can try to overcome your procrastination, like “Eat That Frog” (tackle the big stuff first) or “Atomic Habits” (small, doable steps). You can also do meditation or mindfulness to stay on track every time you feel yourself getting distracted. Whatever you do, just keep in mind that today’s tasks are either going to be tomorrow’s victories or headache. Skip the slacking; your future self deserves better than cleaning up your mess. Crush them now and your future self will thank you.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever abandoned a project because it didn’t meet your sky-high standards. We’ve all been there. The fear of not doing things perfectly can lead to not doing them at all. But being too afraid to make mistakes or fall short is only getting in the way of our own progress.
The fix? Embrace imperfection! Realize mistakes are stepping stones, not roadblocks. Break tasks into smaller, achievable chunks and learn to enjoy the process. You’ll not only ease the pressure on yourself but also foster a healthier, more productive mindset. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in one day.
So, there you have it, dear viewers! Consistency really is a tricky thing to master, but hopefully, unraveling these secrets together gave you a better idea on how to tackle it. Remember, it’s okay to stumble, take a break, or even take an unplanned detour sometimes. Be kind to yourself and simply start over. With a bit of patience, grit, and self-awareness, you can achieve anything you set your mind to. So, what habit are you trying to stay consistent with? Let us know in the comments down below!
- The Art of Improvement. How to Be Incredibly Consistent [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBzUJB8cLkI
- Dr. Alok Kanojia (HealthyGamerGG). Why It’s So Hard To Be Consistent [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKNRXuZWYYg
- Marie Forelo. How To Be Consistent: 5 Steps To Get Things Done, All The Time [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZNnKzVS1Yw
- Koehler, J. “Why Are Old Habits So Hard to Break?” Psychology Today. Retrieved 9 Feb 2024 from https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/beyond-school-walls/202304/why-are-old-habits-so-hard-to-break