Overcoming Five Common Consistency Struggles

Our brains are wired to love consistency. When things are predictable, it helps reduce uncertainty, which is a major cause of stress. Even when things are consistently bad, people respond better than if things are sometimes good and sometimes bad. For example, research shows that employees are less stressed by a boss who is consistently harsh than one who behaves unpredictably. Their boss’ behavior is consistent, so they know what to expect.

Even though the brain finds comfort in consistency, it can sometimes be difficult to stay consistent—especially when working on new or tedious tasks. By recognizing how you may be sabotaging yourself, you can set yourself up to be more consistent.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share tips from writer and marketing consultant Amy Rigby on how to overcome five common consistency struggles.

Struggle No. 1: Your goals are too vague. If you simply say, “I want to make more sales,” you leave your brain with too many decisions to make. By the time your brain figures out how many more sales, by when and how to make those sales, it is already depleted.

Solution: Write implementation intentions. Rigby recommends approaching a goal by defining a day, time and place to perform your desired behavior. By forming these “implementation intentions,” you are much more likely to follow through.

Struggle No. 2: You create obstacles for yourself. Make it as easy as possible to achieve your goal. For example, if you want to lose five pounds, don’t stock your desk drawer with candy and chips. You will have created unnecessary obstacles.

Solution: Eliminate friction. Rigby mentions that author and productivity expert James Clear recommends priming your environment to make future habits easier. Place cues in obvious places to trigger your desired behavior. For example, keep fresh fruit visible so you don’t expend unnecessary energy thinking about what to eat.

Struggle No. 3: You are overly focused on the outcome. While outcomes are important, if you only focus on them, you block your brain from getting the immediate reward it craves, notes Rigby.

Solution: Reframe your goals as learning goals. Even if you don’t get the promotion or land that big account, you still learned something along the way. According to Rigby, learning goals help you ensure that even if you don’t reach the outcome, you enjoy the journey. This will give your brain a dopamine rush and will help you focus on things you can control.

Struggle No. 4: You overly depend on willpower. Distractions are all around us. You can set yourself up to succeed by structuring your day in a way that does not require huge amounts of self-control.

Solution: Make a Ulysses Pact. Named after the hero of Homer’s “Odyssey” (who had his men tie him to the ship’s mast so he could pass the deadly Sirens without being lured by their song), a Ulysses pact ties you to a future behavior by helping you resist temptation, says Rigby. Want to close more deals? Block off dedicated time in your day to call on prospects. Want to read more books? Turn off your phone and TV.

Struggle No. 5: You overvalue emotions. Being consistent can sometimes lead to boredom. While doing meaningful activities repeatedly is crucial to your success, your brain wants to do new things. When you start feeling bored, Rigby recommends taking a break or giving your brain a dopamine hit. Here’s how …

Solution: Add some variety. You can stay consistent while still spicing things up with variety by working on your sales in a different location. If you normally work in your home office, bring your laptop outside. If you like to read before bed, alternate the genres you read to keep things interesting.

Remember that consistency and variety are not mutually exclusive. If you find it challenging to stay consistent, consider how you can apply the solutions above.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Amy Rigby is a writer and marketing consultant who helps startups woo their customers with words.

filed under March 2021
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