Get Better Results: Choose Consistency Over Intensity

Have you ever started something with motivation and excitement, only to fizzle within a few weeks or months?

I think we all have.

Here is the typical pattern:

  1. Intense motivation and excitement to get started
  2. Intense activity
  3. Injury, fatigue, or burn-out
  4. Stop the activity all together

This unfortunate pattern happens with diets, exercise routines, saving money, and many other growth areas of life. The enthusiasm that gets us started actually becomes our worst enemy.

There is an alternative pattern regularly practiced by the best athletes, performers, martial artists, and entrepreneurs. The pattern is this:

Choose consistency over intensity

The philosophy of consistency over intensity says that it’s better to start with a routine that is easy, practical, and enjoyable.

Why? Because the easier and more enjoyable the activity, the more likely you are to stick to it over the long run.

This does not mean you don’t make progress. You can still set and achieve lofty goals, but the gains are very gradual and incremental. Your progress tends to compound and accelerate over time.

This approach works because the worst thing that can happen to your diet, your exercise, your savings, or your business is that you stop. You can have the fastest start, the most potential, and the best strategies, but if you stop, you lose. It’s plain and simple.

So instead of choosing the most intense diet, exercise routine, or financial strategy, it might pay to consider the routine that YOU can stick to. Even if the routine seems tiny and simple, ask yourself what you can commit to with certainty at this point in your life.

This approach may lead you, for example, to begin exercising two days per week instead of the five days per week that you would prefer. On those two days, you may begin with walking before you start running. During each workout you may begin by walking for only 10 minutes instead of the 60 minutes you’d like to eventually reach.

This approach may also lead you to save $50/month extra towards your financial independence goals instead of the $500/month you’d eventually like to save. $50/month may be something you KNOW you can do consistently, and it will provide a foundation as you build up going forward.

With either exercise or finances, you can always do a little extra, like saving $100 one month, but the minimum should always be easily achievable.

See the pattern? Easy. Doable. Consistent.

But, I will warn you that a pesky voice in your head will likely fight this approach. Especially if you have been successful in the past, you may feel that the lack of intensity, sweat, and difficulty means it is not helpful.

Just remind yourself that short-term intensity does not equal long-term results.  If you get injured, if you burn out, or if you stop, all the progress up to that point does little good.

The LONG-TERM success is what you’re after. Consistency is the vehicle that will help you achieve those long-term results.

So, let’s go be consistent.

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3 Comments

  1. “This approach works because the worst thing that can happen to your diet, your exercise, your savings, or your business is that you stop.” I agree! In fitness, it’s those who are used to regular workouts whose fitness levels decelerate faster when they abruptly stop. So, it’s important to keep going at it, and find a way to enjoy and stick to it.

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