Consistent practice (to eat an elephant)

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Why aren’t more people reaching for big, big goals in life? Don’t we all have those dreams that seem too huge and impossible to ever become more than just a dream? When you start to think about all the tasks you’d have to do, all the things that would have to line up to ever have a chance of making it all work, it can quickly become a bit overwhelming. It might be too much for you to even know where to start.

Of course, there are also many people out there who are unstoppable forces, and who have a focus and drive like you’ve never seen, and these people are reaching goals and creating new ones as though it was a sport. How do they do it?

I want to break this formula down for you to one simple concept that you can grab onto because I’m telling you, once you do, your goals are within reach.

The answer is consistent practice.

What does that mean?

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Consistent practice is the discipline of showing up to the work table over and over and over again, every single day. You chip away and chip away at that goal. You put one foot in front of the other. Every. Single. Day.

  • How do you write a book?
  • How do you become a well-known artist and earn a decent living through what you create?
  • How do you pay off your mortgage?
  • How do you lose weight and become healthy and strong?

The answer is consistent practice. Showing up to the table every day is the action that creates big goal success. Now, I’m not here to try to hype you up about this. Reaching goals can be attainable, even really huge goals. But I want to ground you in reality, because reaching goals requires a strong set of self disciplines. There’s no get-there-quick scheme going on here.

If you want to reach your goals, you’re going to have to put the work in time after time after time. You have to continue showing up.

Consistency is a self discipline that relies on some others quite heavily, like:

  • honesty
  • diligence
  • commitment
  • reliability
  • time management
  • delayed gratification
  • determination
  • dedication

Putting each of these disciplines into practice in your life, making them a part of your self identity and reinforcing them with every decision you make, supports you in reaching for your goals. Strong self disciplines form a framework in your life that keeps things together, keeps you directed and focussed, and helps you to navigate bumps along the road.

So we’ve talked about the consistency, but what about the practice? If consistency is the framework, practice is the action in the equation. Practice for you means directing energy and effort towards your goal. It’s the muscle that propels you forward.

Now, to be able to put the practice in, you need to know what you’re doing, and that requires a little refinement and a clear understanding of the goal. Refining the goal itself will mainly mean specifying a timeframe within which you’d like to complete it, but you may also add other parameters (for example, if I want to lose weight, the amount of weight would be one parameter, and the timeframe would be another).

So, let’s say I want to pay off my mortgage. I know already that the term of the loan is 30 years and I have about 28 years left of that term. I decide that I’d really like to pay it off in 20 years instead, meaning I have 18 years left to reach this goal. I’ve put some time limits on this goal, and now I have a defined end point. This allows me to figure out the rate at which I need to be moving in order to reach my goal.

Once you have refined your goal to include the necessary specificity, your next action point is to break the goal down into much smaller actions. In the example above, let’s say that I don’t totally understand my current mortgage structure yet, and I really need to speak to someone about how it works. That becomes an action point in my plan. Or, let’s say that I know my current budget won’t have room to cover any additional mortgage payments. Adjusting my budget becomes an action point in my plan.

So, you have a goal.

1. Add specificity

2. Break down to much smaller goals, as small as necessary

3. Begin to work steadily towards your smaller goals

4. Continue to work persistently and consistently through each small step.

This is the ‘practice’ part of consistent practice.

I know that the action of working towards a goal is not easy, and I’m not trying to give the impression that it is. The biggest reason why many people have lofty goals that they never achieve and perhaps never even begin working towards is because it is not easy.

But, it is doable. You can do it but you have to take complete responsibility for yourself and your self discipline. The key to unlocking your goals actually is quite simple, but the responsibility is yours to turn that key.

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