David Strittmatter

Consistency – why is it essential for success?


  • We greatly overestimate what we can achieve in a few weeks
  • Great things take time
  • Success results from the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out

It’s not about intensity, it’s about consistency

Dear friend,

How do you define success? Is it the fact of achieving wealth, respect, or fame? The desired result of an attempt? Working hard day-to-day towards your self-defined goals?

No matter how you approach a definition of this term, being successful implies at least 3 integral ingredients: 1. Goal(s) 2. Work 3. Achievement.

  1. You cannot be successful without having a goal you want to achieve
  2. You cannot achieve your goals unless you work towards them
  3. And eventually, you’re only successful when you achieve them

Having a goal is the easy part. Execution and persistence are what most people lack. They often fail because they don’t even try. And of those people who overcome their inner resistance, the majority gives up after a short time.

We greatly overestimate what we can achieve in a few weeks

When I try something new, let’s say running, I keep in mind that as long as I keep going, I’ll progress no matter what. I tell myself that I need to keep going until I witness progress. Only when I advance and can feel a real difference, I allow myself to reconsider my plan. For instance, if I hadn’t stuck to that principle, I’d have quit running after the second time. IT SUCKED SO HARD. I was so slow at the beginning and it was so boring. But I kept going. I told myself, I have to keep going until I can run a little faster and longer without feeling more exhausted. Today – almost a year later – I am unbelievably grateful that I kept going. I felt in love with running and it’s so much fun now.

The main reason for failure is our impatience. We want things fast. We don’t really care when we’ve to work our asses off for a few hours as long as we obtain what we want quickly. But what makes most of us struggle is when we have to perform simple little things over the course of several months without a manifestation of our effort.

It’s understandable that you quit after a few times because it sucks when you go to the gym and you cannot see any benefit. It’s understandable that you quit after 2 weeks because you cannot witness a drop-in weight when you go on a very strict diet. It’s understandable that you quit playing the piano when you try to learn it and even the basics are very hard to master.

At first, even the easiest things seem to be difficult. Yes, it’s frustrating. Sometimes starting something new seems impossible to accomplish. Eventually, though, what separates failure from success is trying one more time.

Great things take time

No matter if it’s eating healthy food, exercising, sleeping enough, reading books, smiling more often, etc. – we often fail in accomplishing those little things because we’re not able to grasp the impact – whether positive or negative – those little daily deeds can have. This can be very well illustrated by looking at smokers: Smoking a cigarette now and then doesn’t seem very risky. But the fact that more than 10% of ALL deaths can be attributed to smoking is disastrous. Recent studies show that every second habitual smoker will probably die from the consequences of smoking.

We greatly overestimate what’s possible in a few months and strongly underestimate what’s possible in 10 years. It doesn’t matter which area of life we look at: relationships, ventures, career, health, sports, music, art, etc. You won’t establish a great friendship in a week. It takes a lot of time – not months, but years – until you really get to know and can fully trust each other. The same goes for sports, getting in shape, building your own company, or getting the job you always dreamt of.

You cannot become Beyoncé or Adele after singing a few months or achieve the aesthetics of someone who has been doing sports and eating healthy for several years. That’s just not right and it wouldn’t be fair.

Success isn’t about eureka moments, your big break, pulling off all-nighters, or drinking Red Bull all day. If you want to achieve things in your life, it’s about aiming for daily progress. You need to exercise, read, work, learn, study, every single day. Inconsistency is the enemy of results.

Consistency is the key to success

If you really want to be successful, you have to do all the many minor things right, day-in and day-out. You shouldn’t have high expectations (in the short-run) at first, but rather you should ask yourself EVERY day, how can you be a better version today than yesterday. It’s about 0.1% improvements and not about doubling your performance after a few weeks.

Start small, be patient, and wait for progress. If you cannot trust the process and need more assurance, ask an idol or a person who’ve already achieved the goals you are striving for. Find out how much time sh/e needed to progress. You’ll be surprised how open and willing people are to share, and how long it will take until it’ll actually take to make a big step forward.

You don’t fall in love with someone because s/he invited you to dinner once, gave you a present, and watched a movie with you. We fall in love with someone because of all the little courtesies, sweet text messages, spending hours, days, and weeks with each other. We don’t fall in love with someone after a few days.

As it is with relationships, so it is also – as already described – in other areas of our life. You cannot expect to make a great impact in your job after a few weeks. It’s rough to learn to basics and create any value at all at the beginning. And if you want to create a business, you cannot expect that people are waiting for you to purchase your product. No one is waiting for you.

In a process of uncountable iterations, we find out what is working and what is not. Overnight successes are one of the biggest misconceptions in our world. Even if someone becomes successful overnight, s/he has already worked for numerous hours without anyone noticing it. Sometimes it takes you 10 years to get to the day you’ll be noticed or make the step you need to be successful. Till then you need to stay consistent, try things out, fail, stand up again and again, and be the biggest fan of yourself.

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