Monday, November 17, 2014

Consistency and Creativity: 5 Ways to Find Consistency and Maintain It


By R. H. Ramsey 


So often, we hear and read about consistency, one of the most popular phrases of all, is consistency is key.

I struggle with consistency. At one point, I worked out twice a day, watched what I ate, and kept a food journal. This went on for years, and I was able to do this, because I was in a place, emotionally, where I could conceptualize the goal and stick to it – I knew that I could stick to it. 

Now, I am ashamed to say, I have not worked out consistently in years. It has been sporadic, and it is nothing that I am proud of. I try not to make excuses, but I do have cluster headaches almost every day of the week, which seem to wipe me out and leave me with nothing but fatigue to my name.

When I feel that I am unable, or do not have the energy to commit, I procrastinate. I disappear. This applies to friendships, exercise, my eating habits, and school. The only exception is writing, as ideas come like floods, and if I don't have the time to work on the story, I know that I can at least jot down notes. Even this, my note taking process, I realize, is not what I would call consistent; it is more like organized chaos.

So, what do we do when energy is low, time is limited, life is demanding, and the things we once enjoyed are no longer, well, enjoyable?

Here it comes, that word thrown around so often it's nearly taunting, consistency. But I am not talking wake up at 5am, work out at 5:30am, eat breakfast before 7am, walk your dog at 8am consistency. I am talking about consistency on an emotional level.

Before I explain, take a look at this snippet from an excellent article I read on directcreative.com:

“People are driven to be consistent in all areas of life — in their words, deeds, attitudes, opinions, beliefs, values, habits, and promises. Once a person makes a decision, takes a stand, or performs an action, he or she strives to make all future behavior match this past behavior.
Dieters stick with diet programs they've paid for, even long after it's clear they don't work. College students become fanatically loyal to campus societies after they've gone through difficult and embarrassing hazing. Donors find it difficult to refuse appeals once they've donated to a cause. Consumers stick with brands they've bought before, even if they're more expensive.”

More often than not, the simplest of things inspire me, just like you. And in reading this, even though the author had a lot more to say on the topic of consistency, I was reminded of the pressure we put on ourselves and one another to conquer things that get us nowhere. I thought of our constant need to control and conquer time. Only time cannot be conquered, and sometimes, there is much more to consistency, than control.

Here are some of my ideas, some of the things that work for me, as I work toward paying more attention to my needs and priorities – and marrying the two.

1.    Be conscious of the things you are telling yourself about this new venture. If you are telling yourself, it is going to be hard, it is never going to work, it is just to please someone else, or that it is stupid, work on your self-talk. Before you begin this new routine of meditating, exercising, writing, taking more pictures, practicing an instrument, training your voice, or painting – whatever it may be – try visualizing the results. I write about visualization, often, because for me, it is equivalent to writing a list or an outline. Visualization is also a great way to confirm, connect, and build anticipation. We need anticipation and high-to-reasonable expectations of ourselves.

2.    Choose your time wisely. When starting out with new projects and goals, think about starting small. Many nights, I can write from the time my children to bed, until between 2 and 5am – five - eight hours straight. Yet making the decision to hop on the elliptical for an hour may bore me after 15 minutes, and I will find myself turned off altogether for weeks to come. What about, keeping your needs in mind, not slacking, making excuses, or treating the goal as if it is not a priority. Just keep yourself, your personality, your needs, in mind. Putting pressure on yourself, I believe, is a sure fire way to make what could be a journey that brings amazing results, into a chore. And many times, no one wants to be forced to do a chore.

3.    If you know that you are trying something you do not enjoy, or something that is challenging, or deep down, you feel that it is taking up too much of your free time, find ways to incorporate it in increments. Think of creative ways to ease yourself into it. Maybe in the beginning, you implement it “in doses” throughout your day. Devote fifteen minutes upon rising. Give fifteen minutes to the new routine during your favorite television show or while sitting outdoors in your solitude. Try diving in, again, while listening to fifteen minutes of your favorite songs. Then, what about another fifteen minutes while substituting something that could wait/is a bit less of priority, to work on your goal. You've got yourself an hour. Not bad, right? I think an hour is wonderful!

4.    Distract yourself: “You don’t need to rely on your id for everyday decision-making, like whether to order the chicken or the fish. But if you want to pick like a pro, distract yourself for two minutes before you deliver a verdict. The most effective distractions are completely different from the original problem, says J. David Creswell, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University. His favorite trick to tune out: turn up your favorite music.” nbcnews.com ~I am a firm believer in distracting myself. When exercising, I distract myself with music. While editing and re-writing, I make time to distract myself and enjoy writing short stories. If I am having a bad day, and I catch myself before the mood spreads to “If I don't go to bed, soon, I am going to scream!” I distract myself with things that keep me centered. I think it's the same with new goals. As funny as it may sound, don't focus so hard on the hard part.

5.    Distract yourself with the outcome; distract with yourself from the voices that tell you you're going to quit – just like last time. Because guess what! If you do take a break, you've simply realized that now is not the time, and if you keep these rules in mind, you will come back and blow those voices away. For goodness sake! Stop being so hard on yourself. Everything happens for a reason. Everything happens when it should. You got this!

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R. H. Ramsey has completed several novels, four novels near completion and five short stories.  She has three self-published books: Just Beneath the Surface IUndone, and Into the Atmosphere, with many more to come. Just Beneath the Surface 2: Landon's story will be published at the end of 2014. Her books have been acquired by an indie publisher. Just Beneath the Surface 2: Landon's Story is her current work in progress.With a passion for people, helping and learning, she hopes to continue in her quest of learning from and inspiring others. Connect with RH Ramsey: http://arirjames.wordpress.com and  http://facebook.com/authoranisola and http://twitter.com/rhramseydreamer

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