The Secret to Life: Consistency


I’ve discovered the secret to life!

It almost seems too easy. Too laughably easy.

It’s so simple, that it is NOT simple.

YET, I’ve found time and again, its core truth:

The secret to a good life is CONSISTENCY.

But it’s not JUST being consistent, but being consistent on the right things.

The little things that make all the difference in the long run.

How Consistent Can You Be?

I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.

– Bruce Lee

If you consistently only eat junk food, you will undoubtedly become overweight and have health problems.

On the other hand, if you consistently eat healthy food and workout all the time, you will eventually have an incredible physique.

From health and fitness, to work and your career, to relationships and friendships, the balance of your life will come down to one thing:

How Consistent Can You Be?

It’s a question I’ve pondered a lot lately.

The things I have consistently shown up for, put my effort into, and focused on, I have had big successes.

The other things that I haven’t consistently put effort into, are the opposite.

The things I’ve managed to do well are:

  • Have a great rewarding career
  • A strong 20+ year relationship with my wife
  • Built wealth and reached FI
  • Staying within an ideal body weight (though just barely)

But then there are things that I haven’t done a good job of:

  • Keeping long-term friends
  • Building good relationships with my parents and siblings

There are more on both sides of the equation to be sure.

But I am utterly convinced that the key to anything I’ve done well (or not well), has been my consistency.

Consistency is Key

Success is the product of daily habits-not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.

 James Clear, Atomic Habits

Of course, we all inherently know this.

We know what we need to do to lose weight. We just don’t do it.

We know what we need to do to make better friends. We just don’t do it.

It’s the biggest struggle that we will all face in our entire lives.

  1. Being consistent on the things that matter to us.
  2. Showing up when it matters.
  3. Curating the life WE want, and not someone else’s.

And to be fair, I don’t know the exact answer to this.

But I do have some ideas of where to start.

Small Actions Compound

Little things that seem insignificant in the doing, yet when compounded over time yield very big results.

– Jeff Olson, The Slight Edge

The two best books that I’ve ever read on habits and consistency are Atomic Habits by James Clear and The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson.

Both books key in on the fact that it is the little things that matter.

It is the daily actions that you take, that when added up over weeks, months, and years – those actions yield results.

To give you a small example…I’ve written over 150+ blog posts on Accidentally Retired in just under 3 years.

You might think I work on AR all the time. Not true.

My 150 articles are the perfect example of creating something big through daily and weekly actions.

I write one article per week. That’s it!

The things you do every single day, the things that don’t look dramatic, that don’t even look like they matter, do matter. They not only make a difference – they make all the difference.

– Jeff Olson, The Slight Edge

My secret to growing AR, and to creating such a large volume of content in a short period of time, has been so simple, yet so profound.

The same goes for my Twitter account which just reached 13,000 followers.

Not by being on Twitter all the time.

My account has grown through one simple method: consistency.

I consistently post content, day after day, mostly scheduled in advance. That’s it!

There’s no magic sauce.

No magic bullet.

I just kept on posting, iterating, figuring out what works and what doesn’t. Day by day.

What You Do Daily Matters

There is no more time to waste. Hours and days evaporate like creeks in the desert.

-David Goggins, Can’t Hurt Me

I’m sure you figured it out by now too. What you do daily matters.

It’s all in the slogan for Atomic Habits too: “Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results.

If you want to reach your goals, no matter what they are, you must figure out what small daily actions you can take to move the needle.

  • If you want to build wealth, you must save daily. Even if you start with $1 a day.
  • If you want to learn an instrument, you must practice. Even if just for 1 minute a day.
  • If you want to get fit, you must move your body. Even if you start with only 1 daily push-up.

Habits are hard to keep, but if you start small and in a manageable way, it becomes so much easier.

Everyone tries to change their life by hitting ONE big home run, or by making major life changes.

Yet, the person who can consistently hit single after single, changing one little thing and working on it each day, will score far more runs and find much more success.

Life is complicated.

Life is hard.

But there’s ONE thing that is the make or break.

I think you know what that is by now: CONSISTENCY!

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  1. I think the secret to consistency is linking the desired habits to the image of the person you want to be. In my distance running days running twenty mile training runs was never hard, because I was a runner, I identified that way. Doing excellent work as an engineer and moving up in the corporation wasn’t difficult, it was fun because I saw myself as a fast mover and as a success. That’s who I was in my mind. Willpower always fails, but identity carries on.

  2. Back in 2015 I came across James Clear, Atomic Habits. What a godsend it was. I had someone make fun of me when I mentioned it, but I ignored them. I have formed some good habits as a result. I continue to follow his example.

    1. It is a truly great book. Probably the best book anyone can read who wants some actionable advice on how to create better habits and reduce the bad ones.

      I also enjoy The Slight Edge’s philosophy which is very similar to Atomic Habits in approach, but more of a philosophy of life that anyone looking to improve can get behind.

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