Due to the large amount of information around us, we rarely stop to analyze our own lives. This causes an issue when we are trying to identify why we keep losing our keys, why we forget our homework assignments or why bad things keep happening to us. Not having an understanding of why we find ourselves in certain situations causes us grief, confusion and an attitude of ungratefulness. Consistency can help.
What is consistency?
Consistency is the ability to repeat an action or a routine over a period of time. A person can be consistent in thought, speech or actions. When a person is consistent, they do the same thing over and over regardless of the environment or the people they meet; they repeat the same process because it produces a desired result. For example, it takes more than one workout to get fit. Through irregular workouts, a person will be more stagnant in their growth or weight loss than someone who is consistent. In a study among overweight women, inconsistent physical activity over 12 months resulted in 7.0% average weight loss; 40 minutes a day for 5 days a week over 12 months resulted in 13.6% average weight loss.
A person who wants to have more friends does not be nice one time and assume that they will have more friends immediately. A person who wants to be happier will not smile one time during the day and think that everyone in the world is evil. In order to get stronger, more friends or in order to be happier, the person has to repeat an action over and over again.
What have studies said about consistency and success?
Those who work on consistency will be able to measure how they are changing over time. Those who are consistent can see if something works or if it does not work. Consistency will also keep you accountable. Like working out, you cannot expect instant results unless you consistently exercise. Consistency also builds discipline to make a person successful. Consistency is important for branding, and for establishing who you are to other people. Robots and automation are replacing factory workers even in China because they can consistently produce a certain desired result each time, which minimizes accidents and increases productivity. Consistency is the key to success.
Consistency in Practice: Sleep
Going to sleep at the same time every day is highly important. “Studies of people whose sleep sessions are irregular or short show they are at higher risk of developing diseases that can lead to early death, including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. David Schnyer, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Texas, Austin said, “Changes in sleep can create system wide changes in the organism, and all of the stages of sleep affect the entire body and brain.”
In a study about freshmen college students, sleep patterns influenced GPA; each hour delay in weekday or weekend rise time decreased the GPA by 0.132/4.0 and 0.115/4.0, respectively. This means that each hour a student is inconsistent and stays up past their usual bedtime, they decrease their GPA by 3.2%. Research also shows an association between later bedtimes and lower GPAs. Sleep duration was not different between the groups, but subjects with a more irregular sleep pattern had lower academic performance.
In another study, researchers evaluated students’ confidence and performance following two sleep scenarios: 24 hours of sleep deprivation (All-nighter study sessions) or 8 hours of sleep. The all-nighter participants were more confident that they put in more effort. However, the all-nighter participants actually performed worse on the tests than those who received 8 hours of sleep.
Depression and sleep are also interrelated, especially with irregular sleep. During college, 14.8% of students report a diagnosis of depression and an estimated 11% have suicidal ideation. In a study of female college students, sleep debt of 2 hours per night and/or a bedtime after 2 am was associated with greater depressive symptoms. Irregular sleep schedules are also associated with greater rates of depression.
What are five things we can do to be more consistent?
Becoming consistent, especially in the mundane things of our lives, will bring faster and better ways of doing things. Here are 5 ways to become more consistent:
- Simplify –Cut the clutter out from your life. Try and make less decisions on what you’ll wear and how you’ll act around certain people. Wear the same shirt for a week.
- Focus on 1 thing – There are lots all of us could change in our lives, but doing them all at once is not sustainable. Try and find 1 or 2 easy things you could be a bit more cognizant of one thing. When you do this rather than everything at once, you will have a more effective and lasting change.
- Measure it – Measuring can help you tell where you are and how you have progressed over time. W. Edwards Deming, the creator of Lean management, stated, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it”. Consistency helps with measurement.
- Ask for help – Try to find someone who can help you with your goal of becoming more consistent; parents, a coach, friend, teacher, counselor, etc.
- Form a routine – Routines are the essence of consistency and will show you ways that you can improve.
In order to be happy, you must be consistent in what you do. Consistency will decrease the amount of times we are unprepared for the curveballs life throws at us. You will be able to fall asleep more easily if we go to bed at the same time every night. Consistency can help in every facet of life.