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Episode 19: Frequency Over Consistency

I would say the biggest issue I have with the world right now — and there are a lot of them — but the biggest issue I see de-rail people’s lives and behaviors and their journey to becoming their 2.0 selves is people’s over-emphasis on consistency being required to succeed in any area of life.

So, that’s what we’re talking about in today’s episode of The Work Of Becoming podcast. We are talking about your obsession with consistency and a shift that you can make to prioritize frequency over consistency. So, let’s get into it.

For many years of my life, I was told by people that I really looked up to that consistency was required to be successful. If I wanted to be great at the after-school activity I was in, I had to practice consistently. If I wanted to have the body I wanted, I needed to eat healthy consistently. If I wanted to find a partner in life, I needed to put myself out there consistently. It is everywhere, this emphasis on discipline and consistency. You have to do things over and over and over again to get the result you want. And here’s the thing. You do have to do things over and over and over again to get the result you want. But over and over and over again probably doesn’t mean what you think consistency means.

So, for example, let’s take working out. I work with a lot of clients who struggle with workout consistency, and you might be one of them, and what your brain probably sees is this: in order to gain muscle, I have to workout X many days per week (let’s say four days per week). I have to workout four days per week indefinitely. Every single week from now until the end of time, I have to get four workouts in because all of the influencers I follow on Instagram, they’ve told me that consistency, consistency, consistency is the only thing that’s gonna get me the results I want.

And so, what happens? Thanksgiving happens or Christmas happens or you’re sick or something else happens or you just had a rough week, and you only did three workouts, or you didn’t do any workouts, and then all of a sudden it’s two weeks and you didn’t do any workouts. What you’ve told yourself at that point is, “Well, I’ve lost my consistency, and so, then, I’m never going to get the results I want.”

For me, personally, trying to achieve consistency is like trying to grab a slippery fish with my bare hands. It is really, really, really hard for me. The reason it is hard for me is because I have a brain that wants to be a million different places. I have a brain that does not do well with remembering. I can put a post-it on my bathroom mirror and completely not notice it at night when it’s supposed to remind me to do the thing I’m supposed to do. And so, for me, after years and years and years of pursuing consistency and beating myself up and pursuing consistency and beating myself up, I finally got to the point where I was like, “I can’t do this. I am not going to let my consistency determine my worth.” That is what I hope you get out of this episode.

I hope you notice and understand whether or not you’re letting your behavioral consistency determine your worth because guess what? If you never did a consistent thing again in your life, you would still be a worthy human. And guess what? Even though I have struggled with consistency in all realms my entire life, I still am successful. I still have tons of muscle on my body. I still have a thriving business. I still have a mother freaking PhD. And so, anyone who tells you that consistency is required for you to have big success in this life is lying. What they really mean — and they’re not intending to lie. That’s just the cultural narrative. That’s what we’ve been told, and people just pass it on over and over and over again because it sounds empowering. It sounds like something a coach or an influencer or an inspirational person would say, right? Here’s what I would encourage you to think about instead that is way more helpful for me, personally, and if focusing on consistency is helpful for you, by all means, go do it. That’s fine.

I like to focus on frequency. Here’s why. If I workout four days in a week and then I workout four days the next week and then the next week, I don’t workout at all, in my brain, my brain wants to say, “Karin, you have lost your streak. You have become inconsistent,” right? I’m sure your brain is thinking the same thing. But what I have not lost is my frequency. I still worked out eight times that month. And so, if I focus on increasing the frequency of my behavior, doing that particular behavior more and more often, even if it’s not consistent, that is way, way, way more beneficial for my mindset and it actually results in that behavior getting done, ironically, more consistently.

The last thing I will say that I always remind clients is every single time you do a behavior, it benefits you. Every single time you do that workout, every single time you get to the gym, you have a health benefit from that. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t go the week before, it doesn’t matter if you don’t go the week after. That single workout is still bringing your body benefits. Every single time you check off that habit, you did something for yourself. That changes you. That helps you. Every single action matters, and it’s about stacking those actions, becoming more and more and more frequent, not necessarily perfect checks across 30 days of your habit streak or perfect streaks of 4 workouts a week for every week, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Let go of consistency if it’s something that doesn’t benefit you mentally and focus on frequency instead.

Have a wonderful day thinking about that. Please let me know if these episodes are resonating with you. I don’t look at analytics, so the only way I know if anyone is even listening to this is if you tag me on Instagram or you send me a DM and let me know what you think of an episode. So, please, please, please, if something hits you, if something resonates just right, let me know. Talk to you all later!

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Hi, I'm Karin

I’m a funfetti flavor super-fan, a loving dog mom, a PhD expert in mindset and behavior change… and I’m here to help make personal development and transformation a process that’s actually fun.

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