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Focus more on consistency and less on perfection

Improving Systems and Habits

Scott Miker is the author of several books that describe how to use systems and habits to improve.  This free blog provides articles that to help understand the principles related to building systems.  

Focus more on consistency and less on perfection

Scott Miker

When you start on your path of improvement using the systems and habits approach, you will likely be torn at times between trying to keep going and wondering if you are doing enough.

Because the focus is on building habits, how much we do is less important than the fact that we keep going long enough for it to start to become more automatic.  But the perfectionist inside us probably screams that we aren’t doing enough.

Consistency in a self-improvement program is underrated.  The more consistent we are the more likely it will be to turn into habit.  The more solid the habit, the more likely it will keep going.

Because consistency is so important, it can actually be more beneficial to have the same level of effort, even if this isn’t your maximum effort. 

Maximum effort is not sustainable in most areas of our lives.  We will have good days and bad days, ups and downs.  This is natural and for most people.

But the downs can be devastating to the improvement program if we completely stop during these times.  Instead of a flurry of activity followed by a period of inactivity, it is more beneficial to have a more even path.

There are a lot of continuous improvement programs such as Six Sigma, CPI, the PDCA cycle, etc. that focus on reducing variation in order to improve quality. 

In our personal goals we can use this same insight to focus on being consistent as much as possible in order to keep going and getting better over time without the extreme ups and downs that many of us experience.

There is a great quote by actor Dwayne Johnson that says, “Success isn’t always about greatness.  It’s about consistency.  Consistent hard work leads to success.  Greatness will come.”

But this is opposite of most improvement programs.  Most fitness gurus promote maximum effort.  Programs designed to help someone get out of debt often rely on doing extreme things to save money.  But once the initial success comes, most people stop taking the right steps to keep going, eventually sliding back to where there were before they started the program. 

When designing systems to improve, make sure to focus on consistency over perfection.  Focus on doing it over and over.  These patterns are important and start to form the right habits in the long-term.