“Even if I wanted to go my SCHEDULE Wouldn’t allow it!
One o’clock, Wallow in self pity
Four thirty, Stare into the abyss
Five o’clock, Solve world hunger; Tell no one
Five thirty, Jazzercise
Six thirty, dinner with me. I can’t cancel that again!
Seven o’clock, wrestle with my self-loathing…
Even with the social distancing and staying at home I’ve been doing, I’ve been busy. As each day comes to an end, I wonder what in the world I accomplished. I wonder how many other people have felt that way during the time they were at home. I had plans for all of the great cleaning things in the house, organizing thousands of photo files, and writing wonderful books. For instance, I completely missed Weed Your Garden Day on June 13th. What was I doing? It turns out, I, like The Grinch, had dinner with me that I couldn’t cancel, and I’m hoping to take control of my moments a little better in the weeks ahead so that I can stare into the abyss at four thirty and still make it to National Chocolate with Almonds Day when it rolls around on July 8th.
For the past few months, I’ve been posting on social media each day a calendar square for that date, some thoughts I’ve been having (because you know I have lots of those), and a look at historic events on that day. It’s one of the few things I’ve done consistently since mid-March. It has helped me remember what day it is, since many of the days seem to run together, and it has allowed me a place to share a brief thought that I hope will be helpful to someone else during this crazy time in our world. I wonder if you have anything you’ve been doing each day to give yourself a sense of consistency.
Just what is consistency, and why does it matter? “Consistent: marked by harmony, regularity, or steady continuity : free from variation or contradiction.” Being consistent is not easy, yet when we are able to achieve it in any part of our lives, it makes such a positive impact in other parts of our lives that we cannot overlook the value. We all know what inconsistency looks like: the parent who changes the rules based on the direction of the wind, the teacher who has one set of rules for one student and a different set for another, or the laws that apply to one neighbor but not the other. When others are inconsistent, it is unpleasant and leaves us unsure of what to expect. I know the 6:00 news comes on at 6:00, I can count on that. If they were inconsistent, they might not come on until 6:15 or not at all. Being inconsistent is disruptive and rude. This is why consistency matters.
I grew up with consistency. We ate breakfast at 6:30. On Mondays and Fridays we had bacon and eggs, on Tuesdays and Thursdays we had cereal, and on Wednesdays we had French toast or pancakes. My father came home from work at 4:30. We ate dinner then. That was our schedule, and however that might feel to you, it was comforting to me. I knew what to expect because my mother was consistent. I could use more of that in my life today. Remember, like the Grinch, I have a lot going on. But what, exactly, I’m not always sure. We know how inconsistency makes us feel, but what about the opposite — being consistent?
If you know anything about branding in the business world, you know the value of being consistent. Starbucks, Chick Fil a, and Burger King might be places you visit with some regularity. You can trust their menu is consistent from store to store and for the most part from city to city. When the kids were growing up, we knew which fast food places had kids’ meals and what toy was being offered. That mattered. I know that what I get at the Starbucks where I live can be ordered at the Starbucks when I travel, and I’m going to get the same item, made the same way. There is great comfort in being able to count on the consistency.
In our personal lives, being consistent is the key to success. We still can make changes in our choices,, and should, but we’ll know from having done it one way whether or not that is a helpful direction to continue. Consistency in a few areas can translate to consistency and achievement in other areas. What do you wish you were more consistent in doing? Want to wake up at 5:00 and take a walk each morning? Decide that is what you are going to do. Period. It isn’t a conversation you need to have with yourself of whether or not you want to do it, just do it. Kind of like “if you want to trust people, start by trusting,” if you want to be consistent, start by practicing something consistently. I want to wake up to a clean kitchen each day, so I’ll have to be consistent in cleaning the kitchen each night before I go to bed. Do you see, it isn’t about your schedule, it’s about your choices and actions.
Research has proven that consistency breeds success. For instance, a consistent sleep schedule makes a difference, proven more so by the ramifications of an inconsistent sleep schedule leading to issues with dementia, depression, heart disease, and diabetes. Seven hours of sleep seems to be a pretty magical number for the neurons to do their job, and this is one area where consistency is key. I hope that you will join me in making consistently good sleep a goal.
Whether it is something minor like making the bed each day (not so minor to me) or major like applying for five jobs each day when you are looking for change, achieving consistency means achieving success, and it begins with being consistent.