Commitment and Consistency: Tips for Following Through

by Tiago on October 2


This article is for the people who want to follow through on things but somehow always seem to stumble and fall.

Commitment and consistency are difficult for a lot of people. If you look back you will see that at some point in your life, you made some promises (to yourself) that you didn’t keep. Let’s say that you’ve decided to stick to a new diet, but after a week, you went off the rails.

This is normal. You’re not some special snowflake. This happens to a ton of people. Someone I know has been trying to stop smoking for more than thirty years. Still hasn’t done it.

As someone who (on certain things) struggles with being consistent, one of the things that has greatly helped me is the realization that I am not always the same person. Let me explain:

When you promise to yourself that you will do X, Y or Z, you are often in a specific state, a strong version of yourself if you will. But you are not always in this optimal state. Your mood, hormones and energy levels vary greatly throughout the day, and different parts of you take over at different times.

This is why it can be so difficult to, for example, maintain healthy eating habits. The conscious you understands the importance of eating healthy, and, when it is the part of you that is controlling you at that moment, you follow its advice.

But in real life, something will eventually happen. You’ll have a shitty day or you’ll sleep only four hours and another part of you takes over—let’s call it the fatigued you. The fatigued you does not agree with conscious you’s decisions. It sees a big, fat chocolate cake and eats it so it can feel better.

When you make a decision to do something that must be done for weeks, you are asking all parts of yourself to follow. If they do not all unanimously agree with your decision, then when the time comes when that part of you takes over, it will sabotage your efforts because it doesn’t want what the other parts of you want.

5 Tips to Stay Consistent and Committed

  1. Negotiate with all parties to form a government – Talk to each facet of your personality and explain your decision. It’s important to be somewhat specific here—vague instructions like “be healthy” won’t have much power. Once you’ve decided on something specific, several parts of you will disagree with you while others will agree. Negotiate with the parts of you that disagree with your decision and try to arrive at a compromise. This is what governments do.
  2. Believe in yourself – If you have a part of you that does not believe that it can realistically do something, it will try to sabotage everyone else to make sure that the status quo is maintained. It’s important that you talk to this part of yourself and convince it of the possibility that this goal might be achievable. You can do this by showing it data that proves that what you’re trying to do is achievable, or you can remind it of all the times you did achieve something, etc. Don’t let a lack of faith in yourself drag you down.
  3. Discipline is still important – You will, at times, have to invoke the police force of your mind to make sure that your internal government is running smoothly. Sometimes lazy you really just wants to do nothing for an unacceptable stretch of time. This is where you must apply force and use self-discipline to remind lazy you that the laws are there for a reason and that they must be followed for the good of the whole.
  4. Don’t focus on the negatives – A pragmatic part of you will look at all the reasons why something is not achievable. Shift its focus towards the positives to maintain your momentum.
  5. Start small – It can be hard to convince the various government members to undertake a large project, but it is much easier to convince them if you start with a smaller project or undertaking.

You may simply need to reevaluate what all parts of you really want and make sure that you find a way to get them to agree on something. If you can do that, then you’ll be able to make progress on your goals and finally stop yourself from sabotaging your own progress.

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Tiago uses his forbidden Internet skills to forge the basic framework of the Spiraling Up website. He teaches English in three languages on his English website. He was born in a small city in Portugal and now resides in Barcelona. His personal development journey started in 2006. He eats more lentils for lunch than you eat in a year. He’s also hilarious.

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