Consistency is key to success.
Jack Hughes, age 15.
That’s what my son told me on the way home from run training on Thursday. He’d been discussing it with his running mates, and they agreed that when they were consistent they improved more. They could feel the difference in their performance. He told me it wasn’t about being quick or slow, or even completing the session that was set. It was about doing something every day.
He’s noticed that consistency in his school work helps too. He’s learnt that to do some French word revision every day helps him retain and grow in understanding the language.
Isn’t it fascinating that we can learn lessons from all parts of life and apply them to others?
What does your week look like when you’re consistent? What does it feel like?
And what does it look and feel like when you’re inconsistent?
Quite different I imagine! It is in my life!
Some people talk about “being in the flow” and feeling that nothing can go wrong when they’re in this state. I find that this state comes when I’m focused and am being consistent in my approach and work over the past few days.
5 tips for being consistent
That’s the big question isn’t it? HOW to do it. You know that it reaps results, but how do you get there?
Know the result you’re aiming for.
For my son, he’s got a goal of being in his county team for national cross country championships, and doing well (he hasn’t defined that any further, but he will closer to the event). And he’s working towards some grade goals for his GCSEs next summer which he’s set himself. He’s clear what his goals are.
Every time he does a piece of work, some revision tests or reading, or goes for a run or does his pilates session, he knows why he’s doing it. Some days he doesn’t feel like doing it, so may not work at 100% effort. But that’s OK. Each step is a step however big or small it is, and he can see that each step is worth it towards his goals.
KNOW YOUR WHY
Do you know why you’re working towards something?
I often have clients say, “I have to create content on social media”. “Why?” Is my response. What purpose does sharing a post on social media have for you? How is it helping towards your long term goal?
If you’re clear about why you’re doing something, it makes it much easier to take small steps and do little things which help you achieve your goal. For example, if you’re trying to grow your online presence to share your expertise with a wider audience, then sharing social media posts consistently helps you be visible to your potential audience. If your audience doesn’t use social media channels, then it’s probably not the best thing you can do with your time to be continually posting online.
Know what time you’ve got available to work towards your goal.
Life is busy, and we all have many responsibilities and interests which take our time. There may be fixed things you have to do, (sleep is one of them!) that you have to do every day. You may have some weekly activities you’re involved with. Put these in your diary or schedule first.
Once you’ve got your regular activities and commitments in your schedule you can see more easily what time you’ve got available for your work towards your goals. It may be that this month you’ve only got an hour a week. That’s fine. Use the time effectively and you’ll still be making progress. Remember, consistency is key.
Work out what’s the most important next step
There’s lots of different ways to get to the top of the mountain. Once you know what you’re wanting to achieve, and you’ve identified the time you’ve got to work towards it, you need to know what your next step is.
There may be some things which have to happen first. For example, if you’re making a cake, you need to buy ingredients before you can weigh them out. You have to do some things in a certain order.
So what’s the most important thing for you right now?
- Make connections?
- Set up a structure or system?
- Create some product?
- Make some more space in your week to work on your ideas?
Whatever it is, think about the order you need to do things in.
- Do you need to create a piece of art before you go to the gallery to ask for exhibition space?
- Do you need to know how much your item will cost to produce before you set your pricing structure?
- Do you need to have some product to sell before you meet an interested group of customers?
- Do you need more training to grow in confidence about your service?
- Write your tasks in your schedule
My son has a revision timetable. He has scheduled time in his week to revise, and he’s set himself small tasks to do in those available times.
If you’ve got a list of things you want to do, and time available to do them, sometimes it’s matching the time to the task. Some tasks take longer than others, so you need to assign that time accordingly. Other tasks you may be able to fit in to smaller slots of time. Checking emails for example can be done in smaller chunks of time than creating a piece of artwork!
In our house we have a rule, “if it’s not in the diary it’s not happening”. In theory whatever goes in the diary first is what we commit to. The boys know that if they put things in the diary we’ll help them to do it, and they take this into their weekly planning now too.
- Take action
It’s all well and good having all these great plans, but if you don’t do anything nothing will happen. So follow your schedule, do the tasks and keep being consistent. If it’s one hour a week, or five hours a day, you’re making progress towards your goal.
Some days will be harder than others to do everything you’ve scheduled. Life happens. Phone calls interrupt you. New opportunities you didn’t expect show up. But what you’ll find is that if you stick as closely as you can to your scheduled tasks is that by being consistent you’ll see growth.
Growth could be personal growth. Learning how to do things better. Understanding what’s best for you and trying out new ways of doing things.
Business growth can also be seen well through being consistent. A client told me that when she posted daily on one of her social media accounts when she physically met people they’d talk to her about her posts. They weren’t necessarily turning into sales each day she posted, but by opening up the conversation just by being consistent in one area of her marketing it allowed her potential customers to know what she did and how she could help them. It made her more accessible to those people who were happy to talk about her posts, which led on to talking about her services.
Being consistent is about working towards your long term goals. Each step or task helps you move a little bit closer. Even if you find you need a slightly different path, you wouldn’t have discovered that without being consistent in your approach.
How will you find out how being consistent can help you?
You are most likely part way there, and feel like you’re falling off the wagon when your schedule gets disrupted. At least you’re on the wagon most of the time! It can feel frustrating when you have good weeks and bad weeks, high days and low days.
I’ve often found it helps if I have someone I’m accountable to apart from myself and my diary. When I work with my coaches I always set tasks and then write them in my diary. I check back in with them to update them on my progress. It helps to keep me focused.
The Action Learning Sets (or mastermind groups if you prefer that name) I’ve created also help you stay focused, and support you each step of the way. I currently have some spaces in the Lancashire meet up, 2nd Tuesday every month and the online group, 3rd Wednesday every month. If you’d like to learn more, book an explore call.
Do you have any tips for being consistent in your life? Please leave a comment below.
As people make a stand around the world to make communities think about climate change, it shows that we are starting a listening revolution. We are starting to listen as individuals, schools, councils and communities to the concern about climate change in our countries.
Whilst some people are listening and taking action to make a difference to their local climate, which will have a knock on effect to those around them, others still aren’t listening.
Can we get people to listen?
I’m not sure we ever can get people to listen. They have to want to listen. Watching children you’ll see this really clearly – if they’re focused on playing with a toy they’re not listening. We feel it ourselves – if we’re engrossed in reading something, we can’t listen. However much you believe in multi-tasking, you can’t do two things properly at the same time. Even when you’re driving which becomes second nature, you can’t really listen to every nuance your passenger is saying as you’re focused on the road you’re driving along.
But what we can do is keep listening to ourselves, and taking our own actions which will have an impact on others. Surely action creates exposure to new ideas which will encourage others to take notice. Noticing will lead to listening. Eventually.
Listening is a catalyst for change
If we all listened more to the
- people around us
- environmental changes we see and feel where we live and where we holiday
- economic situation of our community, town, region and country
- cultural differences of those living in and moving in to our communities
what changes would see? What ideas would we come up with? What action would we want to take?
What would we as individuals want to do if we really listened to the concerns our children have about how climate change impacts on their futures?
We’ve seen from the simple act of stopping the normal of every day and doing something different is making people listen (children striking from school). So what if we were able to create space every day to listen more?
Listening creates an open space for new ideas
Having just completed a listening session with a client, which we organised quickly as she had an issue she wanted to work through, she said this:
Listening creates an open space for new ideas that I don’t need to know or understand.
It’s true. What she worked out during our 30 minute call was that she had some options to get out of a work situation which made her unhappy. I didn’t offer any suggestions at all. She created them all by herself just from being listened to in a supportive way.
If we all had someone to listen to us in this way, how many new ideas would we create for ourselves for any number of situations we want to change in our lives or work? Fascinating isn’t it?
How can you start a listening revolution in your life?
Not everyone has someone to listen to them. Not everyone is skilled at listening. I know that. What can you do to help yourself to listen, and be listened to? Who do you know who could listen to you without interruption ? How can you ensure you’ve got someone to speak out loud with to get create space for those ideas which are currently floating around in your head?
Just like the climate change protesters, what can you do to create a listening revolution, and start making others listen to your ideas about what you want to change in your life?
If you’d like to book a listening session with me, or you feel being part of an Action Learning Set will be helpful, get in touch.
I’m not sure there’s anyone who hasn’t been bullied at some time in their life. It’s horrid. Many of us have been the bully who’s been unkind to others because we didn’t understand that being different is part of being human. Yet the bullying cycle continues.
Where do bullies hang out?
Bullies are part of our everyday existence unfortunately. They are everywhere. For some people they don’t feel able to get away from them.
They’re at school, at home, in the workplace, in the sports team, in the parents group, in the social group, in the religious community. They are everywhere, even where we least expect it. But they are part of our lives so we need to learn that being different is actually what we’re meant to be. It’s those who try to mould us into their image who are different from the rest of us.
I was bullied for being different
At primary school I was bullied for being different. In my village I was bullied for being different.
I lived in a village 3 miles from school and I was driven there every day. There were only two families who travelled from my village, (in fact we lived in the same road), to this school. Everyone else got the bus from the top of the road to the other local primary school. So I was different in every place I wanted to fit in.
My parents chose the primary school for all the right reasons. They loved me and wanted the best for me and my brother. Yet their choice made us stick out like a sore thumb. I didn’t fit in anywhere.
We went to church 7 miles away. Our lives were connected from my young childhood with communities further away from my local community. I felt different everywhere, yet I knew I was loved.
Trying to fit in
When all you want to do is fit in and be the same as everyone else, as a young child you do everything you can to make yourself the same. Yet you never can. You’ll always be different. You’ll always be unique.
When I went to secondary school it was easier as I was with a group of girls who I think all felt different in their own way. We had all passed the 11+ and all travelled miles to go to school each day. We were together in our uniqueness and own brilliance. Yet we still all tried to fit in with “the crowd” we most identified with.
When you try and fit in with a crowd you often try and hide part of your unique self. You may start listening to music that those in the group you want to be with listen to, even though it’s not your favourite. You may start watching a particular TV programme or youtube channel because others in that group do and you want to be able to talk about with them. Or, you may stop doing something you love because you believe this is what’s stopping you from fitting in.
Growing up is unique to each of us
Whilst we all develop through the same stages of life, with body changes, hormone changes and learning life skills and social skills, we’ll all do this at different times. When I had my children I was given a “red book” to chart their development, mainly their weight to start with, and I was led to believe they had to follow a particular curve or they’d be classed as freaks.
Needless to say, as a breastfeeding mother, when I learnt that the tables used were based on formula fed babies I stopped attending baby clinic as my babies would never follow the ‘pattern’ as set out in the book. They were unique and I knew and understood their health and development better than anyone. [I’m sure someone will take me to task on this as I know not everyone is aware of their baby’s or child’s health or development. That may be a conversation for another day.]
So now as a mother of two healthy, happy teenage sons, having watched them discover their uniqueness and watching them trying to fit in to all sorts of groups, I understand even more that growing up is totally unique for each and every one of us.
Each of us have different parents, with different values, come from different cultures with different family traditions, and are all told different things by those closest to us. If our parents have different values to each other that can cause difficulties within the home environment. We may feel drawn to one perspective more than the other, or spend more time and be influenced by one carer in our life more than others. That will shape us.
Yet we’re still unique and different.
Being listened to helps you be yourself
If you are in an environment where you’re listened to, and allowed to be yourself and share your ideas, you’ll become more comfortable with your uniqueness at an early age. That doesn’t mean you’ll not try and fit in with those you want to hang out with! It usually means you’re happier in your own skin than some you spend time with.
Yet what can you do if you’re not being listened to? If you’re not valued at home or in the place where you spend a lot of time? It can be hard, especially as a child or teenager who feels like this. Yet you deserve to be listened to. You need to be listened to, so that you can discover who you really are without judgement. You can decide who you want to hang out with and what your own values are.
Many schools now have pastoral teams who you can talk to and share what’s on your mind. It doesn’t mean you’ve got a mental health issue. It just means you need a place to talk and allow yourself to hear your own words. You don’t have to be bullied to use this service.
You may have friends or a grandparent or aunt/uncle who you trust and respect who you can talk to, without them judging you and what you have to say. They love you and care for you for who you are. Your unique self.
If neither of these are an option for you, there may be a listening service in your area. Some schools are setting up listening services so you can simply talk about whatever you want, in confidence. They aren’t for fixing you, as you don’t need fixing, you’re perfect as you are. But these services recognise that not everyone has a trusted person to share things with.
If there’s no listening service in your area, we recommend Young Minds or Kooth.
You are wonderful as your unique self. You are different, but that’s what makes you so amazing. I hope it doesn’t take you as long to realise that it’s OK to be you and not hide any aspect of your brilliance.
If you want to rediscover your brilliance that you’ve been hiding from, book an explore call & let’s forget the bullies. They’re not worth our energy anymore.
Dreams are free. Goals have a cost. While you can daydream for free, goals don’t come without a price. Time, Effort, Sacrifice, and Sweat. How will you pay for your goals?
Photo from Wikipedia
What did you dream of as a child? Was it to follow a particular career? Live in a particular place? Visit a certain country?
I remember at one point wanting to be a teacher. I used to set my teddies up in rows and read to them, pretending to teach them to read. At another stage I wanted to be a police officer. I don’t remember playing this one out, although when I was really little I did play ‘cops & robbers’ with friends who lived nearby, mimicking some of the TV shows of the time.
As I got older I think I dreamt less. I’ve no idea if this was drilled out of me, or whether the education pattern at the time was to move you from one stage to the next, without room for dreams. I did go to school with some people who were very clear about their passion for medicine, or music, and they followed their dreams after school.
I do remember the computer print out from the careers service though. Did you have that too? My top job (matching my interests and other information which was entered into the basic system), was a Prison Officer. The funny thing was though, that most of the class had this in their top 5 careers! I’m not sure any of us felt this was our calling! 😉
It’s only now age 48, that I tell my teenage sons that I’m now doing what feels right for me. It’s taken a long time to get here, but it feels like home. I am teaching people, but not through the formal education system. I also help people and support people to be themselves and follow their dreams. My focus is on teaching people to listen better – to themselves, to their family and friends, to work colleagues and team members and the environment in which they live.
How do you dream?
Some people dream in their sleep and remember the vivid pictures of the stories their brain was telling them. Others don’t see anything in their sleep, or remember the story. Some people spend time meditating each day, and in the stillness allow their minds to wander and this brings up pictures and ideas for them.
I believe allowing yourself to dream is the first step to a happy fulfilled life. Dreaming is a “window into our unconscious” [Sigmund Freud]. And what is our unconscious mind but the very core of ourself? Some people say this is the “true self” or your soul talking to you.
When you listen to yourself you hear the dreams which may have been hiding, or been squashed by circumstances.
- Ensure you have technology free time each day and allow yourself time by yourself.
We all know that it’s important to have time away from screens, whatever age we are. It’s even more important for children and young people as they need time to allow their brains to develop their own ideas and dreams.
If we don’t allow young people the space to dream, how will they learn what’s right for them?
2. Don’t be distracted by other people and their dreams and goals.
It’s lovely to hear about your friends dreams and goals for their life. However it’s just that – their life. You can still be friends and support each other even if you have very different dreams and goals. You may be interested in their ideas and explore some of the journey with them. Just remember, they are not you. Don’t get distracted from being you and listening to your own dreams.
If you’re always following someone else’s path, how will you find your own?
3. Use a journal to make a note of your thoughts and experiences.
Writing in a journal – regularly, or when you feel like you’ve something you want to capture – can be helpful to find the recurring themes in your life. As a child I liked to write my thoughts in a diary, but I stopped. I’ve no idea why. It was only when I started writing again that I found I was allowing myself to be me.
If you don’t express your thoughts and feelings to yourself, how will you discover what you love and what makes you sad?
Dreams v Vision
I’m not sure what you think the difference is between a dream for your future and your vision for the future, but I think it’s to do with what Usain Bolt is saying in his quote, “Dreams are free. Goals have a cost. While you can daydream for free, goals don’t come without a price. Time, Effort, Sacrifice, and Sweat. How will you pay for your goals?”.
You may dream of a way of life, but a vision for your future is something which you’re aiming for – a goal to achieve. In the sporting example, you may dream of being Olympic Champion one day, but unless you commit to the vision of this and put in the effort to achieve your dream it’s never going to happen.
You may work very visually, so having pictures of your dreams will actually create a vision board. By committing your dreams to a piece of paper, or an image on your phone, or a poster on your wall you’re committing to your vision for your future. If you don’t commit in some way, your dreams will always be dreams.
Whatever you dream, only you can achieve it
We all dream different things. We’re all created with different skills and talents. But only you can bring your skill to life in the way that you dream of. No-one knows what you’re dreaming so you’re always right. Don’t let anyone squash your dreams. They are yours and only you can achieve them with your skills and talents.
You may come across other people with similar dreams, or similar skills and talents to you. However the combination of you being you with your dreams will be different from the other person. You’re both unique. What if you both worked together on your project? Would you achieve more? (When writing this sentence I’m thinking of those with scientific brains who dream of curing disease).
Yes you need support, and the right type of support to nurture your skills, talents and progress through life. But only you can dream your dreams. Only you can listen to yourself and know what’s right for you.
You are good enough. Just as you are. Keep dreaming and being you.
What are your dreams? Please do let me know, below or by email. If you’d like help exploring your dreams, book a complimentary Explore Call.
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
I’ve just returned from two weeks in a rural part of southern Malawi. I went with a friend who is doing some amazing voluntary work for the small charity Network for a Better World. They aim to support people in this area who have limited support from other charities and NGOs, and even government support.
The quote above is in the training room of the volunteer house where I stayed. I’ve heard it before, but until I saw and experienced what I did, I didn’t understand how true this is.
Before I travelled my husband read up about the work of the charity and commented, “what they do is really simple isn’t it?”. Yes, it is. And what my friend had asked me to prepare was simple too – prepare some sewing projects to share with locals.
Me being me of course thought I needed to fundraise to buy the women’s group sewing machines as they only have one available to them, which isn’t well used. I now know that being even more simple is what’s needed in this community.
Education is simple.
The community I stayed in, at Sitima near Zomba live simple lives. Their focus is on surviving day to day, and very much at the base of Maslow’s hierachy of needs – food, shelter, warmth and rest. They wake with sunrise and start their fires to cook their simple porridge breakfast. Children go to school (free for the eight stages of primary education) whilst parents work on their small plots of land where they grow food for themselves or to sell.
There’s few jobs in this area. There is a tobacco farm which employs workers. A local man I got to know who works for the charity said, “it’s slave labour”, yet they do earn and some education is provided for the children of workers. Everything they do in their day is to help them buy their next meal or wood to burn to cook the meal, or provide some basics for family needs.
Question: Once your basic needs are met for food, shelter, warmth and rest, what’s important to you?
Education is key to change
As children and teenagers in the UK we’re told, encouraged and cajoled into learning, passing exams and preparing ourselves for the next stage in life. Whatever your belief about tests and exams, we are all very aware that education is a key factor in our development, and opportunities for the future.
As children and young people we may also learn lots of skills which we either continue to use or put to one side. For example, music, sport and crafts are all skills and part of our overall education and life skills. Do we value them in our society as much as we should? Maybe that’s a topic for another day.
Back to education as it’s generally considered.
In Malawi the government aims to have a 1:60 teacher:pupil ratio . In the area I visited, it’s more like 1:100. I’m no teacher or education specialist, but that’s quite a challenge teachers and pupils alike have got to learn in that environment. Yet children are learning. There is a test at the end of each year and pupils need to pass this to move onto the next stage.
Primary education is free to all, so class sizes doubled I’m told, once this happened. There’s not enough teachers and in the area I was in a lot of schools didn’t have houses for the teachers, so they wouldn’t be able to recruit them to their school.
Question: What if we thought about education as more basic than going to school?
In my short time, (and my two weeks really did feel very short), I ran some sewing classes for children in the local villages. Sewing is not a skill that’s taught in schools as it’s one small part of the Expressive Arts curriculum. Schools don’t have the resources to teach all parts of the curriculum and certainly don’t have money to buy fabric, needles and thread.
My memories of sewing at primary school, developing my skills with my Mum and Grandmothers were of simple joyous times creating things with my own hands. Yes, sewing may be a basic skill to you and me, but to this group of people it’s not basic at all. Yet, sewing could be a skill which these young people could develop to make their own clothes, or make things to sell to others that diversifies the income of their family unit.
Whilst some of our young people dream of being professional sportsmen and women and developing their talents to earn an exceptional income, in some cases, the group I worked with wanted to learn how to make a t-shirt. It sounds so simple doesn’t it? It is achievable.
Question: What’s the one skill you’ve learnt in life that you would feel lost without?
Going back to Maslow, and basic needs, some of the work my friend Marian and her volunteer team have done is on cooking and nutrition. There is a need in the area to diversify crops grown, methods of cooking, and ensure nutrition is maintained for all family members. Each part of this is about education.
Whilst many in the western world are looking at the “best way to lose weight”, or “what supplement should I take for x”, this community, and others like it, need help with “how to maintain good nutrition when my harvest fails”. What if we started our questions in our lives the other way round, starting from our basic needs first? Instead of “what do I need to do to lose weight”, ask, “what food do I need today to keep me healthy and energised to do the activities I’m choosing to participate in”? Would we learn more if we started with basic questions and built up our blocks of knowledge again?
Education can change the world
You don’t have to think in terms of SATs, GCSEs, IBs, A Levels or degrees to help those around you change their world. I want to start thinking in more simple terms about education and what we can learn from those who are living at the very bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy for our western lifestyles. What if we responded to the requests of our children to explore something new. That’s education. What if we all took responsibility for educating ourselves and others rather than assuming it’s someone else’s job? That’s education.
Showing someone how to cook a simple meal, or clean the bathroom, or mow the lawn – that’s education. Sharing your skill or talent with someone else, that’s education. Taking an interest in someone else’s life, that’s education. We can all learn from others, and we can all teach and encourage others. I don’t believe it’s about kindness or mindset, it’s simply something we can all do in our daily lives wherever we live. The ripple effect will happen from one shared skill.
When I learnt to sew as a child, I’m sure my Mum and Grandmothers didn’t consider what ripple effect it would cause around the world. Yet it has. I’ve started something simple in a small community with 19 children who are craving to learn more, yet can already make changes in their own lives with the needle and thread I left them.
What can you do this week to help others become more educated in one small part of their life?
I will be continuing to support the work of Sewing in Sitima. Volunteers from N4BW will run sewing schools when they visit, and we’re running teacher training sessions as well. If you’d like to contribute to this work, £20 will provide materials for one class of 60 to make a simple school bag, please get in touch.