When we learn new strategies or adopt new ideas, we often want to see results right away in whatever we are trying to achieve, whether it’s decreased symptoms, improved mental health, or some form of comfort and ease. However, long lasting and sustainable changes are built on consistency and staying committed to the process.
In a society where instant gratification is readily available, patience and commitment can be hard to maintain. But consistent discipline in these areas builds confidence and reduces self-doubt by helping to achieve a long term vision rather than quick fixes or immediate relief in the moment.
There will be days where you will feel unmotivated to stick with the process. Stress and fear may create roadblocks to your goals, or life events may eat up your time and change your priorities. Discipline can help to overcome these curve-balls in life.
For example, you might be trying new strategies to help manage stress and anxiety with physical activity or daily meditations, but you aren’t seeing results right away. You continue to experience symptoms and therefore may have the urge to quit or give into unhealthy behaviours (such as substance use or binge-watching television). This may give you short term relief, but ultimately reduces your confidence and increases self-doubt, causing your desired outcome to feel even more unattainable.
However, if you have conquered discipline and consistency and you fall ill or have a sudden deadline at work or school, you might be able to pause the new strategies (such as physical activity or daily meditations), in order to get through the immediate life event, but easily pick them up again after the storm has passed. Discipline helps you stay committed to your long term goals and desires without selling yourself short on immediate gratification.
Whether it’s managing your mental health, stopping a habit, increasing time for self-care activities, or investing in other important changes you want to make in your life, here are some suggestions to help build consistency:
Create a routine and set aside time for new habits
Set reminders and alarms if needed
Recruit a partner to help stay accountable and motivated
Reflect on your reason(s) for making the change and why it’s important to you
Start small and build as you get comfortable with consistency
Remember that self compassion keeps us motivated; self-criticism does not!