A Quest for Consistency: Setting Priorities and Living Them Out in 2016
We’re almost a month into 2016. Have those New Year’s Resolutions started to unravel? Have your shiny new goals been breathed into life, or are they left to sit still in that notebook you haven’t opened since January 1?
I ask you because I’m asking myself… With 1/12 of the year already past, am I acting on my goals? Does my life declare that my spoken priorities are my real priorities?
A few weeks ago in a goal-setting session with Julie, I vowed to create more work-life balance, to intentionally set time aside to invest in my employees, to spend more hours with family, to eat healthfully, to develop a daily exercise routine, etc. You get it. The list goes on…
But too often, my weekly rhythm looks the same as it did last year, and the year before that.
Strong, authentic goals reflect our priorities. They help to give structured focus to those things we deem most worthy of our time and resources.
Consistency in “walking the walk”–behaving daily in a way that parallels our core beliefs and spoken priorities–is really hard, especially in a demanding culture that seems to pull us toward something new at every turn.
So when the craziness of life sets in, how do we stay true to our priorities?
Here are four ways I’ve found to be key in practicing consistency.
1. Be aware of the important versus the urgent. The urgent demands too often call us away from our values. When work emergencies pop up, for example, I can’t spend time with my family. We leave the power of proactivity and walk into frantic mode. The trouble is, the urgent demands rarely let up. We have to fight for the bandwidth to focus on the important, and the first step in doing so is choosing to be aware of which tasks are which.
2. Surround yourself with people who will call you out. We lose our vision (and too easily, our values, too) when life fills with demands, and each day is busier than the one before it. There is incredible power in marriage and family and community to call us back to our original priorities and to remind us of the ways we aim to be consistent. Ask your close people to call you out. That “tough love” will help to shape your life.
3. Write out your goals, values, or priorities, and keep the list visible. When my list of priorities–both personally and professionally–is always visible, I’m much more likely to stick to it. I have a list on the fridge and also on my desktop. When my mind is drawn back to my goal of working out, for example, I’m far more likely to actually leave the office and head to the gym. Forgetfulness (or laziness) loses its power when the tenets we uphold are right in front of us.
4. Don’t succumb to people-pleasing. I hate to admit it, but far too often, I end up spending time and energy on unimportant tasks simply because I’m trying to impress someone. Or far worse, simply trying not to disappoint them. It’s a life reality: we can’t please everyone. And I’ve learned that accepting this fact gives us far more dominion over our own actions and happiness. The goal is to be consistent in living a life of integrity, not to be consistent in saying yes to everyone. (In fact, the second might actually refute the first!)The goal is to be consistent in integrity, not consistent in saying yes to everyone. Click To Tweet
Consistency is essential for a life well-lived. Here are a few reasons that the pursuit of consistency–specifically in daily aligning our actions and our beliefs–is so important.
Consistency reflects character.
John Maxwell writes in The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership that “character communicates consistency.” He goes on to say that inner strength is a key piece of one’s consistency in thought and performance. To know what you believe to be most important and then to set the rhythm of your life around acting out of those things is consistency–and more importantly, it’s outward consistency rooted in internal character. A client of mine calls this integrity with yourself: when your daily life practices reflect those things you claim be to most important.
Consistency solidifies reputation.
There are a few key ideals that our agency upholds most: integrity, excellence, and innovation, to name a handful. I want my reputation and the heart of my work to be rooted in these things, to be consistent in exemplifying the values we hold as a company. When I have this standard, my work process and product is consistent for each client, no matter who they are. This consistency lets those in the industry get to know me. When the quality of my work never wavers, it begins to speak for itself. And with time, a strong reputation is born in its most authentic form.
Consistency builds trust with clients.
There are so many life factors that we can’t control. The housing market and El Nino and our kids’ behavior… it’s an ever-growing list of unpredictable elements that we have to deal with each day. When so much is uncertain, I want to be a certainty for my clients. Consistency in my interactions with each client means they feel familiar with my ways. They know what to expect. They know that my work and communication patterns stay the same. Slowly, relational equity is solidified. As politician Lincoln Chafee says, “Trust is built with consistency.”
Consistency fosters confidence within a team.
There is nothing scarier and more unsettling than an erratic leader. I’ve worked for a few, and the feeling of walking into the office and not knowing which version of the boss you’re going to get is worrisome, to say the least. I want to be a consistent leader within the office and within my family, one whose behavior is steady and constant, whose actions consistently line up with his values. There’s no other way to build a team of confident individuals who feel safe to take risks and admit mistakes.
Studies show that companies that have consistency in leadership and work product tend to enjoy a higher bottom line. Measurement of performance, accountability in excellence, steadiness in branding–nearly all the elements that we attribute to a successful company–are rooted in consistency.
John Maxwell says it well: “Small disciplines repeated with consistency every day lead to great achievements gained slowly over time.”