Okay. So it’s the season of resolution slacking and post holiday snacking. The kids are back at school after a long break and a month of in school holiday parties. We are back from travel, cleaned up from hosting, and getting back into the swing of “real life”. So how now, that the lights and hubbub are down do we not only reenter our everyday with the gumption to rock our goals for the new year? The key is learning the skill of being “consistent”.
Lately, this word keeps coming to mind in my efforts to be a better teacher, wife, friend, and Christ follower. In teaching kindergarteners to junior high students, I’ve learned that your beautiful classroom management techniques and well-laid lesson plans are fruitless if your students cannot trust your follow-through. As a wife, I may earn brownie points for deep cleaning the house and having dinner ready when my husband gets home from a trip, but if I am not making the effort the other days of the week, is he feeling honored? A dinner date with a friend is wonderful, but if you leave emails unanswered for days (or weeks), are you a reliable one? If you go to a Christian women’s conference and have a deep experience, but are not daily in the Word, are you fostering true growth in your spiritual relationships? Am I being a woman of good character?
All of these things I have been guilty of and have recognized that consistency, yes a choice, but it is also a skill that can be learned.
- Define “consistency”- You need a picture or personal mantra of what it would look like if you were consistent…. Merriam and Webster’s definition makes this trait almost boring, using phrases like “always acting the same way”.However, I like to think of it as having similar values of trustworthiness. So my mantra might sound like, “When I live my live with consistency, others can effortlessly rely on my words and intentions to match my actions and followthrough.”
- Identify how you fail to be consistent– This is the sucky part. First, I abhor having to admit when I fail… but even worse, when I cannot pass the buck, but must take personal responsibility. Okay, so it’s fairly easy to see when you screw up, but by asking why or how did mess-up can help me strategize for success. For example, if I am always running late (hey, at least I’m consistent ;), I can look past what is happening and ask why. By realizing that much of my franticness is caused by not going to bed early enough, I can strategize how to have more productive mornings!
- Redefine what you can do- Look at your planner! Seriously, examine what gets done and what things fall to the wayside… THEN…ha…write down what things you ARE doing. If you spent 10 mins on Instagram or 15mins on Tumblr, write it down. You can start identifying things that are important to you, things that are time-sucks, and things that are being neglected. From here you can restructure not only your day, but what you allow into it. My dad, in all his wisdom, used to tell me as a girl, “You can do ANYTHING you want in life, but it is foolish to think that you can do EVERYTHING.” Understand what you are capable of doing.
- Let your yes be yes, your no be no…- BOUNDARIES! Yikes… there are so many times and reasons that I say yes to things that I really should not because truly, I don’t have the time. I’m slowing using strategies for saying “NO”, but the people-pleaser in me still tries to overfill my schedule. Unfortunately there are only 24hrs in a day, and I have the embarrassment of an airline overbooking passengers, having to tell someone that they got to go… and of course over-promising to make it up to them later. Even the best intentioned girl with a servant’s heart can get a reputation as a flake (or a stressed out basket case) when she overcommits. It’s better to say “no” to things, then to commit and then flake out.
- Start small, you don’t have to do it all– All too many times, I have made the mistake of trying to change everything I didn’t like about myself at once and failed miserably because I was unfocused and overwhelmed. Pick one area. Don’t try to juggle all faults simultaneously. Pick one and be relentless. New studies suggest that 2 months (okay 66days) is all it takes to solidify a new habit. The instant gratification seeker in me of course wants it to happen NOW… but in the long run, a couple months is a small investment that will reap lifelong dividends. For example, by constantly working toward the simple goal of going to bed before 10pm is easy to focus, measure success, and will have trickle down rewards. Start small, win big.
“A good woman is hard to find,
and worth far more than diamonds.
Her husband trusts her without reserve,
and never has reason to regret it.
Never spiteful, she treats him generously
all her life long.”
Proverbs 31:10-12 (MSG)
(One more because I think these are obnoxiously adorable 😉 )