Most people think that effort means everything. We go through life assuming if we are going to do something, we have to do it 110%.
Therefore, if we start something, we immediately want to be experts. We don’t want to go through the awkward beginning stages where we are not very coherent and coordinated in our attempts.
In other words, we want to jump from someone who has never undertaken something, to being perfect. We don’t want to skip the in-between.
The problem is that the in-between means everything. How good you end up is directly related to the work you put in.
Instead we want to point to talent as the main decider. We assume we can try something and see if they we the talent to be perfect right away. When we don’t, we assume that we don’t have enough talent.
But this is incredibly misleading. Even the greatest individual accomplishments required a tremendous amount of work. Those who were awkward and uncoordinated would, over time, improve more and more and more.
In Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth, the author says, “By some estimates, about 40 percent of people who buy home exercise equipment later say they ended up using it less than they’d expected. How hard we push ourselves in a given workout matters, of course, but I think the bigger impediment to progress is that sometimes we stop working out altogether. As any coach or athlete will tell you, consistency of effort over the long run is everything.”
So instead of initial effort being the major factor to success, we have to shift to look at consistently working and improving. Doing that will allow us to keep making progress.
So if you find yourself struggling with some area of your life that you desperately want to improve, stop trying for perfection right out of the gate. Get rid of the idea of perfection from your mind.
Then replace perfection with progress. Are you making progress? Are you making strides in the right direction?
If the answer is that you are not consistently making strides in the right direction, then slow down. Don’t speed up. Don’t add more. Instead find a smaller amount of effort that you can put forth. BUT make sure that smaller effort is put forth consistently.
Once you master being consistent, you will start to see that you can accomplish more. That becomes the pivotal element that allows you to keep making progress.
As you do, you can start to add more and more to your routine. Because you have built up the right habits to keep going, you can add more without worrying about quitting.
It isn’t like the beginner. You suddenly become experienced and can then look at it from a different perspective. You aren’t trying to start and instantly become perfect. You realize the level of effort it will take and you consistently take the right steps in the right direction. Now all you have to do is leverage those new habits by adding more challenge and a faster pace.