One year when running the Boston Marathon, I had the opportunity to meet Olympic Gold medalist and running great, Frank Shorter and spoke with him for several minutes about my training as I aimed to take my marathon running to the next level. His advice was simple and summed up in just 3 words, “consistency is key”. He meant that I could do all kinds of fancy training and work outs but what it really came down to was being consistent with my training and routine. He wasn’t only referring to my running but also my nutrition, my rest, my hydration, my self-care, etc. He didn’t indicate that I needed to train every day, two or three times a day, but that I needed to establish healthy running and lifestyle habits to help me work toward my goals.
His advice may have been some of the best, albeit simplest, advice I have ever received. I quickly realized that it was great advice not only for my running career but also for my life in general. Whenever I have had a big goal to work toward, I have been able to be much more successful through consistent work. For example, when writing my book, I was able to make so much more progress when being consistent in my writing. When I prioritized an hour or so of writing each day, it became habit and I was able to get into a much better rhythm and flow. When other things got in the way/took priority over my writing, I felt like I lost momentum and it was that much harder to start again.
I believe the advice can be put into practice in all aspects of life, be consistent with practicing a new skill, be consistent with relationships, be consistent with sleep, with nutrition, with studying, with reading, with exercise, etc. It seems as one good habit develops, others more easily follow. Many people often confuse consistency with getting a “streak” going. While a streak can be one way to be consistent it is not the only way and may not always be the best way. For example, a consistent built-in day off during a hard training regimen can be much more beneficial than simply slogging through a work out with a tired body just to say you did it. Likewise, a day off from writing can give new ideas a chance to flourish, and a break from learning a new skill/task allows learning and retention to occur.
So, as you look to establish positive habits and routines in all aspects of your life, simply remember, consistency is the key!