Successful people are not born great. They chose to do what makes them great rather than settling for what is convenient and feels good. We have the same choice to make in our lives: will we settle for what’s easy or work for what is rewarding? In the home, at work, on the field, or in the classroom, the secret to every form of success is consistency. Building healthy habits is vital for long-term success. Small consistent steps forward will take you further than inconsistent leaps ever will.
Looking back at the most successful times of my life, I noticed the same two practices at play: consistency and productivity. Those two elements are unnatural to maintain on our own. I asked myself what allowed me, a phenomenal procrastinator, to maintain such high levels of consistency and productivity in these seasons? The answer: Accountability.
I recognize that each of us varies in terms of what motivates us and what keeps us motivated. I need accountability. I need the extrinsic motivation that accountability provides. I deeply admire people like my husband and little sister with the sheer will to better themselves for themselves, requiring no extrinsic motivation; however, I recognize that’s not me. Instead of hating that about myself, I choose to embrace what makes me great, and that is accountability. I am learning to hold myself accountable and not for the sake of others. I can be incredibly tenacious for others but rarely for myself.
This pep talk is for those who need accountability to do things for ourselves by ourselves. Every day, I have to repeat various mantras to motivate, sustain, and challenge myself to stay consistent and productive. To be great we first must accept who we are and how we were created. We cannot resent the gifts and mindsets that come naturally to others and not ourselves. Instead, we must create habits that invite what we desire into our lives. I once heard that hard work beats talent when talent does not work hard.
One day, I decided to note the small habits that invited accountability and consistency in my life regularly. I pinned down eight habits that help me get the ball rolling or keep it rolling. I have the personality type that once I’m in motion, I stay in motion, but the moment I stop, it’s very difficult to get started again. Routine and accountability systems keep many people going.
8 habits to help you become more productive and consistent:
1. A great day starts the night before: Plan your day the night before, noting only must-do items and things that have the most impact on goal progression. Planning your day saves time and starves procrastination. Along with this, practice good sleep habits. Good sleep is necessary for productivity. I suggest investing in a great pillow and a sound machine.
2. Our morning routine dictates your day: The days I lack routine and a plan are the hardest days to get started and stay moving. Set strong and healthy morning habits, like working out, daily reading or prayer, and eating a healthy breakfast.
3. Acknowledge your feelings: Admit when it’s hard, cry when you feel like it, and rest when you need it. Feel what you feel, and when you’re ready, let go and keep moving. Break the I-don’t-feel-like- it mindset. Feel it, release it, and get back at it.
4. Journal your progress: This might look like writing down a win each day, noting the things you did when you didn’t want to do them and how it made you feel when you were finished. It might mean taking pictures to show physical progress, keeping a gratitude journal, summarizing your day in three sentences, or noting anything that will later reveal your progress spiritually, physically, mentally, or emotionally.
5. Create a mantra: Make a fight song, write a mantra, string together certain affirmations you need to hear, or find something to repeat to yourself every time you feel like giving in. Find a way to live up, not give up.
6. Find or create accountability: This will look different for everyone. I have different people in different areas of life that keep me accountable and motivated. My mentor challenges me to do things that make me uncomfortable but promote growth. My sister and I hold each other accountable for practicing healthy lifestyles. Being a part of a small group motivates me to stay in God’s Word. I keep myself accountable with to-do lists, vision boards, prayer and progress journals, and goal casting.
7. Use sticky notes with quotes or reminders: I find ways to remind myself that results don’t come in a day; they come with consistency. I remind myself that I don’t have to be perfect; I only have to commit to being better each day. I place sticky notes in strategic spaces to keep me motivated.
8. Stop saying “I never” and “I always”: They permit you to give up before you try. You can become disciplined by being consistent and you can become consistent by being disciplined. You will suffer the pain of discipline or regret; one will take you where you want to go and the other will keep you where you are.
Healthy habits of accountability invite consistency. Consistent habits lead to results that invite productivity. Acknowledging your shortcomings will allow you to create habits and accountability where you need them, so you can get where you want to be without excuses. Every time I want to make an excuse, I remind myself that we are the sum of our excuses. Remember, you don’t have to be perfect, but you must be willing. To live the powerful, meaningful life you desire, you must create and maintain powerful habits that invite consistency and productivity. If you change nothing, nothing changes.