After years of running my own small business and observing successful people, I’ve come to one important observation about the true key to success: Be consistent. The entrepreneurs and leaders who show up every day, display their best selves day-in and day-out, year after year -- those are the successful ones.
In the same way that empires are built brick by brick, financial prosperity is created dollar by dollar and fitness is achieved one bicep curl at a time, consistency is what makes great men and women. So, how do you develop an innate ability to stick with it? How do you grow this essential habit of success when you’re struggling just to keep things steady?
Here are three tricks of the trade for staying consistent in all areas of your life.
1. Start by segmenting.
Segmenting your day is a key aspect of successfully preparing for it. The alternative -- thinking of everything you need to do -- can easily lead to your feeling overwhelmed and helpless; for most of us mere mortals, such overkill may also cause you to crash and burn as you descend into the destructive attitude of “why bother”?
Instead, when you segment your day, you you separate your actions into small chunks and focus only on the mini-goals of each segment. In her book, Success Under Stress: Powerful Tools for Staying Calm, Confident, and Productive when the Pressure's on, Sharon Melnick suggested this practice, encouraging readers to segment days or even weeks into time periods devoted to only one activity.
For example, you might block out calendar segments on Tuesday and Thursday mornings to return clients' calls or pursue new business. This will keep you positively focused on actions to move you toward your goals, while helping you to avoid those feelings of fear that can paralyze us in the face of "everything that needs to get done."
At the end of each segment (you may want to time them, with meeting reminders or alarms), acknowledge how much you got done and note where you ended; then let that segment be done and gracefully transition to the next one. You’ll never get it all done, but segmenting can create productivity bursts in a dependable manner. Keep showing up with your best self to the next segment and you’ll be in good shape for realizing your aspirations.
2. Leverage the power of systems.
If consistency is one of the biggest keys to success, then systems are the skeleton key that unlocks every door! In The E-Myth Revisited, author Michael Gerber summed up this point perfectly, writing, “The true product of a business is not what it sells but how it sells it. The true product of a business is the business itself . . . a systems-dependent business, not a people-dependent business.”
Systems allow you to leverage your and other people’s time and to tweak and form a truly repeatable business strategy. When you develop systems in your day, your life and your business, you take yourself out of the rat race of trying to do it all and instead replace the madness with order and harmony.
You can plug people in and out of that system and the wheel will keep turning. Suddenly, employee turnover won't seem so overwhelming. Time off from the office will be possible and space will begin to open up in your mind.
Probably the most influential step you can take toward creating a consistent practice of success is to invest in the systems that make your business, and your life, run like a well-oiled machine. Don’t work at your business; work on your business by developing effective systems to take you out of the maddening loop.
3. Hold yourself accountable, with help.
We all plateau. It’s frustrating but also a normal part of life. The key to bursting through ceilings, be they mental, physical or financial, is to hold yourself accountable. That doesn't mean accountable for doing it all, but accountable for getting help.
For entrepreneurs, help can come in many forms. You can leverage the power of a mastermind group. You can utilize the power of a mentor to help structure and grow you past your current standpoint. You may even have the money and ability to hire help, be it a virtual assistant, staff member or other valuable member of your success team.
Regardless of the form help takes, make it a priority to get some this year. You’ll be surprised by how much further and faster a little help can take you as you struggle to stay consistent and realize your dreams.