Working consistently towards a goal is more likely to bring results than taking action once in a while.

Consistency leads to habits. Habits form the actions we take every day. Taking consistent action towards achieving a goal massively improves our chances of success.

A photo of Charlotte Ashley-Roberts
Charlotte Ashley-Roberts

Charlotte Ashley Roberts has adopted “Consistency” as her word for 2020. We asked her to answer questions on “How to be consistent”.

Charlie is a Transitions Coach who helps people to negotiate changes in their lives, careers and businesses with coaching programmes, detailed in Your Time to Grow

This is a transcript of the Q&A in the Drive the Network Facebook Group.

How to Stay Consistent

Helen Lindop Do you have any tips for staying consistent when you’re having a slump/bad few days/ motivation dip and if we do fall off the consistency wagon, is there a painless way to get back on?

Charlotte Ashley-Roberts My advice here would be to take a break! Give it a few days and allow yourself to wallow in it, not think about it and do something else. Then after that time come back and reassess.

Small steps are definitely the way forward but I think it’s ok to a) have a break and b) to acknowledge and accept that we won’t meet 100% of our goals 100% of the time. It’s normal and ok and the sooner you can put down the guilt the better 😊

Charlotte Ashley-Roberts I’m not sure that it’s a sign thing aren’t working…though that might be one reason. I think it depends how often one is falling off the wagon. If it’s frequently, I’d be asking myself if this is really what I want and examining the root causes. It’s almost always fear and/or a limiting belief of some kind.

If it’s not that frequently, I’d take a break and reflect on what is going on and whether or not there’s a change to be made.

The most painless way is to start with super small steps. Just do one tiny step or if you prefer spend ten mins doing something towards it. Set an alarm. It’s likely that if it’s something you want to do but you’ve got out of the habit then you’ll do ten mins then a few more etc.

Helen Lindop Do you have some tips for setting goals that are ‘stickable’? Is it best to go for easily achievable ones or does that risk boredom? Are we better aiming for goals that are a bit more of a stretch?

Charlotte Ashley-Roberts It comes down to what motivated you to set the goal in the first place…did you feel obligated to do it? Or do you love doing it? If a task is enjoyable it’s easier to do. Also depends if you’re task driven as per our discussion last week.

Charlotte Ashley-Roberts Some people are motivated by ticking things off the list and so easily achievable ones could be great…and they can still be big goals, just broken down into achievable tasks.

The danger is confusing stickable/achievable with safe and comfortable. If you can do the tasks standing on your head then it might be an opportunity to set a stretch goal. Look back on your progress and see how much you’ve achieved and what you’ve learnt.

If you don’t take consistent action is it a sign that you need different goals?

Emilie Silverwood-Cope Is being unable to create consistency a sign you’re probably doing the wrong thing?

Charlotte Ashley-Roberts Not necessarily. Some people just don’t like routine. You may need to find a different way. You can check out the reson you set goals here: Have you set toxic goals? 

Jo Dorrington-Neville What is your top tip for being consistent with something you don’t really enjoy doing but need to?

Charlotte Ashley-Roberts boringly, just get it done. Bit like eating your veggies first on a plate of food when you’re smaller 😂 there’s a book called swallow the frog 🐸 which says you do your least favourite task first, followed by your next least favourite followed by something you enjoy.

Also you could make it fun, rope someone in to do it with you, get creative with it…what excites you? Use that to find a different way of doing it.

Alternatively, consider it from a different perspective. How could you approach it with an ‘attitude of gratitude’ 😂🙄😊

What if you don’t like routine?

Ann Hawkins I’m in awe of professional athletes / musicians etc who train and practice every day. Are some people more disposed to sticking to routines than others or does it all come down to motivation?

Charlotte Ashley-Roberts The motivation isn’t necessarily the routine that is a means to the bigger goal of challenge and self development.

It also helps if you love the goal you’ve set or if you find it fun. I’m much more likely to practice something if I a) enjoy it and b) see progress which is why I believe it’s important to celebrate our successes

Helen Lindop Is it also about your personality, many athletes are incredibly competitive or perfectionists and some of us aren’t wired up the same way?

Charlotte Ashley-Roberts I wouldn’t describe myself as competitive…in fact, if I feel lots of people are better than me I find it demotivating. I’m not a perfectionist either. I am however driven by a desire to improve. So with running I’ll never be Paula Radcliffe but I can be better than I was. If I don’t improve I find it demotivating! So….yes it could be personality or it could be our values,

Motivation comes and goes…but we can still be consistent. You don’t have to be motivated to be consistent, you just have to do it. Think of motivation like the weather… sometimes it’s sunny, sometimes rainy, cold, windy. The flowers still grow, they are consistent regardless of the weather.

Ann Hawkins I get that for physical things like exercising but what about more artisitic ones where people have to get in the zone or in the mood?

Charlotte Ashley-Roberts have you ever sat down to write a blog and then sat blankly wondering what to write…then you just start and the words flow? You find yourself in the zone even though you weren’t there at the start. Sometimes you have to just start it.

That said if you have a favourite space, scent, pen etc that could help. Check out more about motivation here: Why is motivation important? 

Jo Dorrington-Neville Do you find accountability helps with consistency?

Charlotte Ashley-Roberts Yes, but it’s not true for everyone. For some people sharing goals makes them more anxious and piles on the stress of they’ve said they’ll do something. For these folks I’d say that accountability does work…so if you can, choose to under promise and over deliver! Set yourself up to succeed rather than to fail.

For lots of people though accountability really works. You only have to look at slimming clubs to see that. But a club of any kind is helpful because you find people in the same boat.

NB if you’re going to share your goals though, share them with people who’ll support you without judgement or harsh words. Choose people who’ll help you when you’re having a tough day but will actually challenge you  (with kindness) if you don’t do what you say you’re going to do.

Martin Smallridge Quick addendum: Talking about what you’re going to do releases some of the endorphin reward that would come from finishing a task/goal… it makes you less likely to actually do it…

Dennis Harhalakis Sometimes you start something and the further you get, the more you realise you have to do. Are there recognized stages we go through when this is happening to us?

It always feels like a failure half-way through 

Charlotte Ashley-Roberts  I’ve just posted a link above to kanters law…where it feels like it’s chaotic in the middle.

I think in these cases it’s important to focus on the end goal. A bit like when you take on a decorating job and you think it’s going to be a painting job but then it turns out to be plastering, unercoats, glossing etc…(guess what we’ve been doing recently? 😂)

Helen Lindop As someone who discovered last week they were goal driven (thanks Charlotte Ashley-Roberts !) it might help me to have some kind of reward or milestone in the middle of a project. Because that’s when the initial novelty has worn off but the end goal feels like miles away.

This may also be why I can see that retainers make good business sense but they aren’t as appealing as a project with an end-point.

If you’d like to know more about taking consistent action to achieve goals contact Charlie at www.yourtimetogrow.com or on Twitter @CharlieCareers