Need Help Being More Consistent? Learn to Stick to Your Word

Photo by Nicholas Bui on Unsplash

I’ll be the first to admit that I struggle with consistency. I have a terrible habit of starting and stopping things, for whatever reason seems justifiable at the time.

And yes, I know the proven tricks for staying consistent. Like writing down your goals each day, sticking to a routine and doing things even when you don’t feel motivated (because motivation is fleeting). And I believe these strategies are useful and can certainly power your consistency.

But I also believe that in some — if not all — cases of inconsistency, something deeper is at play:

A lack of self-trust.

Consider that setting a goal is like making a promise to yourself. You’re committing to do X in order to improve Y. For example, you may plan to work out three days a week in order to improve your health or fitness.

Now think of this in terms of your external relationships. When you make a promise to your friend or significant other, it’s your chance to further build up the relationship by fulfilling said promise.

But if you’re dishonest or unreliable, it instead has a negative effect. They may no longer trust your word and may perceive your promises as “crying wolf.”

Let’s bring this home. If you’re constantly making promises to yourself — ie. setting goals — and never following through, you’re likely damaging your relationship with yourself.

You’ll stop believing in your own ideas, visions and goals because evidence shows they’ll never manifest. You no longer trust yourself to stay motivated enough, passionate enough, consistent enough to see this goal through to the end. And you’ve unknowingly trained your body to adapt to never completing something.

Your self thinks you’re unreliable. And it’s easy to become paralyzed by this unnerving truth.

The good news is that self-trust can be repaired, just like trust can be repaired in your relationships with others. But your self is going to need proof that you can actually stay committed. Here are some tips for rebuilding trust in yourself and, hence, keeping your word:

1. Take a look at the past

This is one of the few times the past is actually relevant. Take some time to recount past wins, no matter how small. Reflect on what it took for you to ‘win’ and how it made you feel.

Take me for example. Last March, I set 3 goals for the week:

And guess what? I actually achieved them and I felt so proud and accomplished that I shared it with my social media friends. That’s when you know it’s real.

I think back on these small wins often to remember that I can do what I said I’d do. You can keep a mental rolodex, but if your memory can’t be trusted either (*cough), write them down and revisit the list when you need evidence that you can — in fact — keep your word to yourself.

2. Start small

Speaking of small wins, all you need is proof the size of a mustard seed to believe you can trust yourself again (word to Matthew 17:20).

Maybe you can commit to making your bed every morning.

Or writing a blog post once a month.

Or even sticking to your nighttime skincare routine (yes, this makes me feel extremely accomplished).

It doesn’t matter what it is. You just need to prove to yourself that you can be trusted with the small things and then you can gradually move up to your big ideas and goals.

As a former track athlete, here’s an anecdote that hopefully drives this point home: Self-trust is like a muscle that needs rebuilding after an injury. You start with low-stress exercises and as the muscle grows and repairs, you gradually increase the intensity of the exercises because you can now rely on the muscle to hold up against the weight and pressure.

Winning, even at the small things, will become a habit. You’ll start chasing that ‘accomplishment high.’ And you’ll have proof that you can actually be trusted to fulfill the promises that you’ve made to yourself.

3. Feel the guilt

This may be a controversial tip, but here it is nonetheless. When we let down someone we love, we instantly feel guilty. We understand the consequences of our actions — or the lack thereof — and we’re often motivated by that feeling to do and be better.

Maybe the same can apply when you break promises to yourself. We often brush it off as if it means nothing and will have no effect. When, in fact, it’s setting off a series of unfortunate beliefs and habits that can impact your ability to get sh*t done.

So I challenge you to feel the guilt. But not enough to send you spiraling into a cycle of despair and self-hate. Simply take some time to understand what it means to your self when you don’t stick to your word. And love yourself enough to change the course and be a better ‘you’ to you.

This has been self-revelatory to say the least. And if you’re like me — and have a severe case of the start-and-stops — evaluate your relationship with yourself. Have your past flops impaired your self-trust? Is the lack of trust in yourself blocking you from being consistent and seeing a goal or idea through to completion? If yes, join me in trying these tips.

Because as fashion icon Diane Von Furstenberg once said:

“The most important relationship in your life is the relationship you have with yourself. Because no matter what happens, you will always be with yourself.”