I was watching one of those healthy eating documentaries the other day; my wife and I both find a lot of value in watching those kinds of shows every now and then. In this documentary, a man asked a leading nutrition expert what the best diet is and the answer was given: “Any diet will work if you stick with it.”
Now, I probably disagree with this answer at face value; I think you really have to be willing to go a level deeper to see the wisdom of what the expert was saying.
This answer is about consistency. Even the best diet plan will not work if you can’t stay with it for a while. Actually, I’m more likely to subscribe to the belief that, as far as a diet goes, you’re looking for eating habits you can sustain for a lifetime rather than some short-term project, but I digress.
This also speaks of the Knowing-Doing Gap, which I mentioned in Iterate Toward Success. It’s relatively easy to know (or to learn) what to do; actually doing it – employing knowledge in a meaningful way – that tends to be more difficult.
Thinking broader, it’s important to know how to pursue a change initiative in a way that you can stick with. There are lots of practices, frameworks, and models to choose from and all of them help people. But not all of them will help any one person.
This is another reason why a self-reflective practice is very important, so you can learn more about yourself, what works and what doesn’t work for your personal development.
But consistency isn’t just about what CAN work and what CANNOT work; it’s also about MAKING things work. I would suggest that a person really only pursue a change when it’s really important to them. It’s common in my coaching practice that I will ask clients to rate a particular initiative on a scale of 1-10 as to how badly they want to do it.
If we’re talking about making dietary changes, for example, I’ll just ask my client how important that is to them. If the client were to say something like “Oh, I know I should eat healthier but I’ve never really prioritized it,” that would likely signify that the client is not serious enough about that particular change. Being consistent requires that we make moves that we WANT, not just the ones we feel we SHOULD make.
So, what do you really want to do? How can you maximize your odds for success by reflecting on how you should pursue this change? What strategy will you use to remain motivated for this change and consistent in your approach?
Some people may need a coach to help them answer these questions and to pursue change, others may not need a coach. We’re all different and we all have different requirements to make us consistent in our thoughts and behaviors.