Have you ever heard the saying, “Consistent action creates consistent results?” In my experience, truer words have never been spoken. When you do something consistently, you begin to create new neural pathways in your brain — and over time, your brain begins to change its structure and these habits become second nature. You are literally rewiring your brain every time you repeat an activity, until your brain begins to recognize this pattern and accept it.
Think about the first time you ever tried to speak another language. My native language is French, so this is something I relate to. It can be very challenging to learn new words, memorize the grammar rules and understand the accent someone else is using. But over time, with many hours of studying and practice, your vocabulary grows and your ability to have a conversation improves. You are able to progress because you’ve committed time and consistency to your practice — and you’ve built new neural pathways in your brain, and eventually it has committed them to memory. By remaining dedicated to your goal, the task that was once so hard to accomplish becomes your new normal. You simply wouldn’t find this same success if you only spoke the new language a few times a year and never practiced in between.
Now let’s apply this concept to fitness and eating right: When you’re training your body in the gym or striving to make healthy food choices, you’re also training your brain to accept these new behaviors. The more regularly you work out and eat right, the greater your brain’s ability to latch on to these new behaviors and turn them into a lifelong habit. Soon, meal prepping becomes a Sunday night ritual and going to the gym at 5:30 a.m. becomes something you look forward to.
I believe that most people fail not because of lack of talent or access to the right tools but because they lack the discipline to show up every day. So you get people who get very excited about a project, work really hard for two weeks, and then they put the project aside and don’t make any progress. But for those who keep going and stay the course, they’re bound to succeed because they are putting in consistent work to make it happen.
Perfection: The Enemy of Consistency
So how does consistency relate to perfection? Nobody is perfect. Consistency in the long run is much more important than being 100 percent perfect for one month and then falling off the wagon. Also, perfection is unrealistic. If you set yourself up to expect perfection, you’ll be disappointed when you make a mistake, and this could cause you to give up entirely.
There’s a misconception that in order to be healthy, you have to be perfect. People assume that because I’m a professional athlete, I never eat cupcakes or pizza, and that’s simply not true. I’d go crazy. There’s no way I’d be able to be as focused as I am if I can’t let go once in a while and treat myself. The key word is “treat” — if you cheat every day, then it’s not a treat but a habit. And that’s what we want to avoid. After you have your treat, you can enjoy the satisfaction, understand that it’s not the end of the world, and then get right back on track with your next meal.
One of the easiest ways to build consistency is to prepare in advance. I like making a list before going to bed of all the things I’ll do the next morning to stay focused on my commitment because it helps me stick to my routine and schedule.
So give up the notion that perfection is the only way to succeed, and instead focus on showing up each day, giving it maximum effort and consistently working toward your goal.
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