We become what we do every day. I’m not necessarily a fan of blanket life statements, but the key ingredient of any endeavour intended to produce results is consistency. In practice, we must do it every day, without exception. Maybe a day’s holiday or a special life occasion won’t hurt, but our guiding thought must be that we have to focus on it every day. I had a recent week’s holiday in France, but that did not stop me taking my classic books out there to read every day. Lifelong learning is so important to me, that it does not matter if I’m on holiday or not, it gets done. And with pleasure too. If we have a mission that consumes us, it will not matter what time of year it is, we will do it. Unless of course, we excuse ourselves out of doing it.
A book that helped solidify this within me is called ‘The War of Art’ by Steven Pressfield. This book is aimed at creative people, but it could easily be for somebody on a fitness programme or running a business. The single most important premise is that we must overcome ‘Resistance’ on a daily basis to achieve the goals we set ourselves. He writes:
‘There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t, and the secret is this: It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance’.
If we go back to the fitness programme, I can state without any doubt, that the decision to go the gym creates far more resistance, then actually being at the gym. I quite enjoy that part. But the people who are achieving the best results at the gym, are either there, planning, learning or recuperating (part of a successful fitness regime) every day.
If we are not following up every day on our intended endeavour, then indifference will inevitably creep in. And then we will lose all motivation to achieve our goal. It doesn’t take much. We live in an age of distraction and options, and Pressfield argues that resistance is far more powerful than we are, which is why the battle must be fought every day.
During the summer, I was very lucky to see the west end show ‘An American in Paris’ at the Dominion Theatre. The show was a magnificent spectacle, and could easily turn a novice theatre-goer like myself, into a passionate follower. As I was sat there in awe of the spectacular performances, I could not help but think how unwavering and consistent the dedication of the performers to their craft must have been, to perform on a grand stage in the west end. I am sure that the actors and musicians were not casual in their approach to performing in the Dominion Theatre. They were solidly committed. This commitment led them to study and practice every day to become the accomplished performer that they are. They have become the product of their own creativity.
I guess what makes us succumb to resistance is either the belief we cannot achieve what we set our minds to, or that we are unsure what we want to achieve in the first place. We have to be 100% committed to a task we set, or it will not be realised. Any less and we will give in to other more immediate forms of gratification; whether that be checking Facebook, reading endless comments on a certain sports story, or relaxing in front of the TV. There is nothing wrong with any of these activities, but again, we become what we do every day. You will be an expert on what your friends are up to if you check up on them 10 times a day on Facebook. You will be able to wax lyrical to your work colleagues about the latest instalment of Big Brother if you watch it for 2 hours every evening. If this is what you want to become then that is fine, but anyone with longer term goals, which require active study and practice, will need to keep these distractions to an absolute minimum. Easier said than done I know, but an undeniable truth.
It’s a struggle to keep any activity going on a daily basis, I get that. Time is never on our side, and the world demands our action and attention in many different directions. I don’t believe we can do or become everything we want to in life, and will inevitably have to make sacrifices to achieve results in certain areas. If we do identify what is really most important to us though, and deliberately set time to focus on it every day, it is inevitable that we will achieve results, maybe even greatness, in that area. Consistency on a daily basis is a simple yet profound approach to achieving, or becoming, what is most important to us. Nearly any other approach is doomed to fail.
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