“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 will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” -Calvin Coolidge
In his book On Writing, Stephen King told a little story about a spike he had nailed into his bedroom wall when he was younger.
He originally had a small nail, but pretty soon, the nail wouldn’t hold the weight of all the rejection letters he had received for his writing. “By the time I was 14, the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled on it,” he wrote. “I replaced the nail with a spike and kept writing.”
It’s not easy to be consistent, especially in the face of seemingly endless failures. In fact, many people just come to the belief that being consistent is impossible.
I hear this a lot in my personal coaching. The #1 problem my clients have is trying (and failing) to be consistent. There seem to be so many obstacles to success, they say. I’ve tried too many times, and it just doesn’t work, they tell me. Many of my clients have come to me and have outright said they don’t even believe they can succeed. That’s how long they’ve been struggling.
I get it. I’ve spent years of my life trying and failing, trying and failing. It adds up. It’s easy to begin believing it’s hopeless.
But the truth is, you can become consistent in anything. Any goal you have: waking up early, eating healthy, going to the gym, writing your book…you can become consistent in all your actions so that these goals go from “eventually” to a solid, concrete timeline.
I know what you’re thinking. “No way is this article going to make me consistent. I’ve tried too many times.” I know what you mean — that’s exactly the kind of thing I used to say.
In his book How To Be An Adult, David Richo wrote: “Psychological work is a linear chronology leading us from problem to solution, from inadequacy to competence, from dysfunction to high level functioning.”
After doing the “psychological work” myself, I’ve learned how to be consistent in any area of my life:
Consistently wake up at 5AM (even on weekends)
Consistently write every week for 18+ months in a row
Consistently write to finish my first book (coming out next year!)
Consistently work to create multiple online courses (earning me thousands of dollars/month)
Consistently read 1 book/week
Consistently read the Bible almost every day
Consistently exercise 2–3 times/week
Consistently save up and pay off enormous debt and loans
If you can be consistent, you can achieve anything — it’s only a matter of time. Consistency spreads into every other area of your life too: reading a book every week forces my TV time down. Waking up at 5AM all the time forces me to go to bed early. Playing basketball 2–3 times/week forces me to drink less beer.
Here’s what you need to do build unstoppable consistency.
Consistency Will Make You Feel Like a Loser
“Success comes through sustained effort. (The key word in that sentence is not ‘effort.’ It’s ‘sustained.’)” Todd Brison
If I told you that you needed to write 41 articles before one of them went viral, would you write that many?
How about that you needed to go to the gym 41 times before you noticed any weight loss? Or 41 asks before you got your first client?
Most people wouldn’t do the work.
Talented, attractive, lucky people are everywhere. Everywhere. They’re all over my feed, peppered all throughout my community and friend groups. They’re freaking amazing at this one thing.
But rarely is any one of them a consistent person.
That is why eventually, they will fail.
And that is why you will succeed.
Consistent people are extremely rare. If you can learn to cultivate consistency in your work, you’ll eventually beat any talent, luck, skill, and even quality — just by being consistent.
Consistency will make you feel like a loser. All the time you’ll spend working, trying, failing, trying again, failing again, trying again and failing again will make you think you’re a loser.
You’ll feel like a nobody who sucks and isn’t good for anything and should just quit because you’ll never be good enough.
At least, that’s how I feel.
Being consistent is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to become.
I’ve been blogging for over 5 years now. For the first 4.5 years, no one read my stuff. In 54 months, I’d accumulated a grand total of 178 subscribers.
I wasn’t consistent. I’d write and blog furiously for a few weeks, then lose motivation and disappear entirely. I wouldn’t write for like, 3–4 months. Then, I’d watch Gladiator or Saving Private Ryan get inspired again and write another few posts. Then I’d lose interest and give in to boredom, and stop writing again.
No wonder nobody ever read my stuff!
About 16 months ago, I finally decided to become consistent. I started publishing every single day, building trust with my readers and honing my craft. I became a student of my craft. I bought courses, books, and applied what I’d learned.
Since then, everything has changed. I quit my full-time job and work from home now, as a full-time writer. I’ve gained about 30,000+ new subscribers. I average about 200,000+ views/month, consistently. I signed my first book deal. I get emails every week from readers telling me how powerful and helpful my articles are.
This sounds crazy, but it’s true: I’ve made more money from my blog today than I’ve made in the first 4.5 years combined.
This is the reward for being consistent. But consistency will make you feel like a loser, while you’re in it. Just remember — you have to shovel through 10,000 pounds of crap before you strike gold. Most people will never have the consistency to overcome the tedious repetition that long.
“Repetition can be boring or tedious — which is why so few people ever master anything.” -Hal Elrod
There’s a ton of gold down there — are you willing to keep shoveling until you get there?
What Most People Get Wrong About Consistency
Consistency is a bit like a million dollars. Everyone wants it, everyone knows it will make their life better, but it seems impossible to ever achieve it.
Here’s a lesson I’ve learned about being consistent — you have to actually want to change. There’s a refreshingly honest prayer by St. Augustine written nearly 2,000 years ago. He is praying to the Lord to take away his sexual lust:
“Lord, make me chaste — but not yet!”
I can relate. Growing up, I became heavily addicted to pornography and lust. All throughout my teenage years, I prayed the first half of Augustine’s prayer, not even aware I was praying the second half at the same time.
If you want to change an integral part of your life — your mindset, your beliefs, your choices, your actions — you have to actually want it.
Many people simply don’t want to change yet. Another personal example: a while back, I really thought I “should” go to the gym and exercise. I’d try for months, but after a while, I realized I simply wanted to eat burritos and drink craft beer more. That’s OK. I didn’t really want to go to the gym (at least then), and I would never make real progress until I fully committed.
This is what author John Assaraf meant when he said:
“If you’re ‘interested’, you come up with stories, excuses, reasons, and circumstances about why you can’t or why you won’t. If you’re committed, those go out the window. You just do whatever it takes.”
Do you really want to change? Or are you still holding onto the past?
Do you really want to pay the price to improve? Or are you not quite ready yet?
Stop wasting time trying to make yourself change when deep down, you don’t want to yet. Commit first, then take action.
How To Be Consistent At Anything
“Small, seemingly inconsistent steps completed consistently over time will create a radical difference.” -Darren Hardy
Best-selling author and finance guru Ramit Sethi gave a specific, actionable step to changing any behavior and start becoming consistent:
Floss one tooth.
Flossing your teeth isn’t hard, but most people still go to the dentist and have to admit they don’t floss at all (or if you’re like me, you lie and say you do). If you have trouble starting, just floss one tooth. It’ll take literally 8 seconds.
What happens is this: you’re flossing that one tooth, and after a few times, you floss another couple teeth. The ball starts rolling a little. Momentum is created. With a little focus and effort, you floss more and more teeth every time.
Best-selling author David Kadavy has a similar prescription for all you writers who can’t seem to write. Kadavy says you should write for just 10 minutes, totally committed and focused writing. Only 10 minutes. After that, you can go back to the TV or Instagram or napping.
But what happens during those 10 minutes? I’ve experienced it firsthand. It’s very easy for that 10 minutes to turn into 20 minutes. Every time it’s happened, it becomes easier to write for longer.
How do you be consistent?
Start with flossing one tooth. It’s not a trick — just go and floss one tooth tonight, then go to bed. See what happens.
Start with writing for 10 minutes. Seriously — after those 600 seconds, go back to watching TV. See what happens.
“Most people knock on the door of their dreams once, then run away before anyone has a chance to the open the door. But if you keep knocking, persistently and endlessly, eventually the door will open.” -Les Brown
It’s hard to be consistent. But if you can do it, you can earn millions of dollars, write best-selling books, open your own business — literally anything. It’s just a matter of time for people who are disciplined.
It’s not easy, but that’s exactly the point. Top-tier achievements like these have tough entry barriers. Most people give up a few steps on the rocky path up the mountain.
But I learned to be consistent, and that’s exactly how I got to write a book, open my own business, and become a full-time successful writer. I’m living my dream, and it was only possible through sustained discipline.
Start small. Floss one tooth, write one page. Do what you can. Remember — for every day you keep going, thousands of others quit.