I am not consistent in areas of my life that are important to me. It’s been this way as far back as I can remember. I take on a new habit to learn a new skill or move my life in a different direction, but within days, or even hours, I’ve quit.
It must be a matter of willpower, right?
I give myself pep talks. I promise myself I’ll try harder. Those pep talks don’t last, and I inevitably break my promises. I know I must lack something that successful people possess.
Maybe I can find a tool that can help me.
I search for another book that I can read, different iPhone app, or a better plan that I can develop, which will allow me to be successful. As each of these hopes fail time and time again, I began to see myself as someone who loves to start new things, but lacks follow-through.
Here’s the reality: I am a consistent person.
I exercise every day. I drink a shake packed full of superfoods and antioxidants daily. I drink coffee religiously and follow a plant-based diet. I brush my teeth and shower most days. I shave every 3-4 days. I lace my shoes up when I put them on. I read, I do personal development. I carry out long conversations with myself in my head.
If I were to catalogue my week, or look back through my Snapchat stories, I could list dozens of things that I do consistently. My life is full of consistencies and follow-through. Sure, there may be certain things that I am not consistent with, but I am not an inconsistent person by nature.
So, what gives?
I understand the benefits of consistency. I’ve read The Compound Effect several times. I lost 70 pounds and eliminated the need for high cholesterol medications through consistent exercise and smart food choices. I have not been sick in years because I consistently give my body the nutrition it needs with my shake. I know from personal experience that taking consistent actions toward a commitment works.
Here’s the thing: Knowing doesn’t produce results. Taking action produces results.
I have a commitment to sharing on social media. And we’ve established that I have lots of experience with being consistent. I know that consistency produces results. I am even capable of taking the action that there is to take, I just can’t do it consistently. Why am I not being consistent in any area that is so vital to my joy and fulfillment?
There has to be something hidden from me. Some blind spot that I can’t see. I’ve recently gone to work on finding this blind spot, and here is what I have discovered:
It’s as simple and as complex as that. Simple, because fear is something that I can punch in the face. Complex, because it was so difficult to even recognize the fear.
Before making this discovery, there was no way in hell I would ever publicly admit to being afraid. But this year, I’ve shifted my relationship with fear from one of avoiding, ignoring and denying, to using fear as an indicator of where to apply myself in life.
Until now, I was never even confronted with telling others about my fear, because as far as I knew, I wasn’t dealing with fear. Like they say, what you don’t know can’t hurt you. But, truth is: it can rob you of the life you want.
I was unable to recognize or admit to myself that fear was the thing holding me back. If I momentarily suspected fear was at play, my Ego would step right in and nip that inquiry in the bud. After all, I am the hero of my own internal narrative, and heroes do not allow fear to drive either their actions or their reactions to life.
My fear is that I will become successful, that I will fulfill on my commitment to share and contribute to others.
Here is what my fear sounds like, if I let it run wild in the chambers of my mind:
“If my voice is heard, there will be expectations placed upon me. Just look at what happened to Richard Simmons when he tried to retire! I will have to show up every single day and participate in life. I’ll have to continue to work on myself as a human being, and to fail forward, and to do so publicly.”
“What if I run out of things to say? What if my writing and communication skills don’t improve? I know fulfilling on my commitment will mean doing live videos, and I will have to talk off of the top of my head, instead of editing my thoughts. I can’t do that!”
“Some – maybe many – people will disagree with me, some will make fun of me, others will say mean things about me. What happens when I say something stupid? Will I lose any respect I might have gained from putting myself out there?”
“People close to me have rejected and invalidated my views in the past. What if that happens again in the future, but on a massive scale?”
Wow, that’s a lot of hidden baggage to unpack! I’m terrified and exhausted by that future. I want to slam the lid back on that Pandora’s box! Forget I said anything! Nothing to see here!
I had no idea that was all lying under the surface, until I realized that it was fear that I was looking for.
I thought that my life was too busy, and that I lacked the self-discipline to keep my promises to myself. The real reason for my inconsistency – fear – was hidden from me.
We generally recognize our overt fears, the stick that is loud and painful on our backside. The other MO of fear, being the carrot, is more insidious. It is the whisper, not the shout. That whisper sounds like our own voice and it brainwashes us into believing that we are a certain type of person, a person not capable of taking the consistent actions that will lead us to a life we love. It rewards us with the safety and comfort of the familiar and known. Of staying where we are, instead of moving forward.
Fear shapes our psyche and causes us to avoid what it considers dangerous activities. The activities that create personal growth will cause us to fail along the way. It is safer for the Ego that we believe ourselves to be incapable of obtaining our desires, and thus, never even take the first step.
Fear drives us away from our dreams with procrastination and distraction. We allow TV shows, our phone notifications, and one urgent fire in our lives after another to prevent us from taking consistent action. Eventually, we forget that we even dreamed and dared to see something greater for ourselves and our lives.
Recognize your inconsistency and resistance for what it is:
Now, you can act against it. Don’t allow fear to lull you into the comfortable dialogue of all the reasons and excuses you use that keep you from taking the actions that will produce the results you want for your life.
That is my discovery, my heart, my contribution for today. I give it to you because I am afraid to do so. You can agree with it. You can disagree with it. You can like it, or think that it is foolish and silly. You can take action as a result of having read it, you can ignore it, or allow it to fade into the background of your busy life.
Of course I want to make a difference for you, but my success or failure today is, in a way, immaterial. Yesterday, I picked up my pen and captured my thoughts. Today, I composed this post and published it to my timeline. Tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, and the day after that, I will take action.
Where are you stuck in life? What promises to yourself do you consistently break? Look very closely, and see if there might be fear hidden there.
Fear is a bully, a shadow. Shine a light on it.
Disappear the invisible carrot that fear is dangling in front of you by setting aside comfort, anonymity and passivity. Comment below and tell us about an area of your life where you have not been consistent, where you can’t seem to make regular and steady progress toward your goal. Say what has stopped you in the past. Then, see your reasons and excuses for what they actually are: FEAR! Fear will always be a part of life, but you can change your relationship to it by recognizing it, seeing it for what it is, and taking action anyway.