The Very Simple Secret to Staying Consistent

by David · 9 comments

Take The Long Road by SircsyJoe

I’m often asked if I have any tips or tricks for staying consistent on the road to acquiring skill. I’ve been thinking about it for a while and I’ve wanted to write a long intellectual post on the topic, but the truth is I can’t — write a long post that is. Staying consistent is incredibly simple. We don’t need to complicate the matter. We all have days when we don’t want to practice — this feeling isn’t unique to anyone.

A large part of the problem is unrealistic expectation. We are organic animate beings. We aren’t computers. Emotions and external factors get in the way and we can’t always follow a routine. It is true that we can develop discipline. I don’t miss a day of intense study, but I haven’t always been this way. Discipline takes time to develop, It won’t happen over night and you won’t be a disciplined monk next month.

When you’re starting out you may not be able to study for one hour a day consistently. Not because you physically can’t, but because you lack discipline. There’s nothing wrong with this, every journey has a first step.

My advice is simple:

  • Do something
  • Do a little
  • Do

What matters is knowing more or being better today than you were yesterday. Next time you feel the urge to skip a day of practice, remember, you can do a little and it won’t be cheating. Practicing consistently isn’t difficult. What’s difficult is practicing something every day that you don’t really want to, and in that case you probably shouldn’t be practicing.


  • Prize

    You probably can’t become a disciplined monk in a month, but you can become disciplined. Studies show that it takes about 21 days to form a new habit. If you keep doing something everyday sooner or later it will become ingrained and it will be hard not to do it. 

    I’m doing this right now with studying kanji. I have to do at least one 20 minute session of kanji on Anki for 21 days. I’m currently on my fourth day and it has been working pretty well so far. I usually do two 20 minute sessions, but one is my minimum. I will blog about the results after 21 days and see what happens.

    But yeah, you’re right David. Discipline does take time. Don’t beat yourself up if you think you don’t have discipline just keep going and do a little bit everyday. Great blog post! 🙂

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    Thank you for this post. It’s got me feeling a little better.

  • Lifescapers

    Nice post. Realistic and encouraging and kind. You can travel a long way on those three.

  • Felipe Kauai

    There’s no need to make things complex indeed. Thanks for bringing this logic to the public in a simple manner, but consistent one ^^. Peace

  • eri

    The most important and effective way I found is:
    1. I ask myself why I want to have that particular habit and what is wrong with my habit.
    2. How difficult is it going to be?
    3. How can I succeed in forming that new habit.

    Example:I left drinking cola and eating processed food. I have to admit that it was difficult at the first. I understood that I must make a healthier choice. I anticipated that the journey will be challenging and difficult. I told myself that it is important for me to test my ability. To succeed, I left my credit card at home and I went to places where I will spend on foods, without any cash on me, even if I want I don’t have cash or credit in my pocket to buy. After few days, I started to get tempted, after some weeks junge foods became an enemy. Now looking back at the journey, it is worth the effort.

    Thanks David for illustrating this idea it made me think twice.

  • TrolleyDolly

    You made me feel yeh Just Do it, once I did it I know I am on track! My trick is first skim over contents, 2nd read yeh something going in that little head , 3rd read by Golly she’ s got it I do beleive it’s there!!!!!!!

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