I learned a lot as a gymnast. There are life lessons packed right into the sport: time management, teamwork, commitment. But one that is the most vivid in my mind is the lesson of consistency and how integral it is to real, total success.
There was one year I was really on a roll when I was competing: Level 7. My routines came fairly easily, and I was more in love with the sport than I’d ever been. I put in so many numbers at practice. I can clearly remember one day when my coach assigned us to do skill-throughs on beam (your beam routine without the choreography, just your skills). I did nine of them in one beam rotation. That’s when it really hit me that I was doing better results-wise at meets because of the numbers. I was practicing hard consistently and there was direct correlation to how I was doing in competition.
I want to do everything I put my energy into to the best of my ability, and I want to cultivate those areas of my life to grow in the future. I need to remain consistent, and that doesn’t mean to necessarily prioritize some aspects of life over the others all the time. Granted, faith will always come first. God is my everything and my source. However, in terms of the other three I mentioned, it means striking a balance between them all consistently so that they all have the chance to grow.
That’s actually the issue I’ve had over the last couple of years: I’ve tended to prioritize work and school over writing. But the truth of the matter is that I feel that I’ve been put on this Earth to write. It’s one of my greatest gifts from God to be able to construct things out of words, and that needs to be important in my schedule, too. That being said, more no’s may be in order so I can do that. I want to finish a working draft of my novel, Caspertown, which has been in the works for over three years now. This story needs to be told, and it’s about time I finish telling it! But that will only come with consistency and hard work.
On a slight tangent off of that, I am a firm believer in the fact that talent will only get you so far. It hits its max and then you’ll plateau. However, there is no limit to how far genuine, hard work can take you. The harder you work, the more success you’ll find. It’s a universal and simple formula that works for anyone. Talent has an end point, luck has an end point, and advantage has an end point, but hard work is the secret ingredient, so to speak. It’s the difference from being good to being great.
That being said, the hard work needs to be consistent in order to work. If hard work has another half, it’s consistency. You can work hard one day per week, but you’re not really going to get anywhere, not for awhile, anyway. Consistency is something I need to channel from my competition days; the balance in life that we need isn’t packing as much as possible into our schedules, it’s remaining consistent in what we decide to do.
I’ve really needed to reframe that concept in my mind. If I take a look at my planner, my priority shouldn’t be that it’s packed, but that I’m actually achieving everything written down to the best of my ability consistently. This might mean having to say no to certain things, and that is okay. I would rather do fewer things well than more things in a mediocre manner. I want to remain consistent in the things that matter most to me (faith, writing, work, school) before I add other things on top.
So if we break this down, remaining consistent in our passions often requires that one word that’s difficult for many of us to tell others: “No”. But it’s something I’m being very conscious about moving forward. I really try to think about what they’re asking me to do before I immediately agree. Just the other day, one of my managers asked me if I’d like another shift. I asked her if I could think about it, because I just wasn’t sure if I could handle it in my schedule. She said that was totally fine, and then I got back to her during my next shift. My answer ended up being “no”. And you know what? She completely understood and said she would find someone else to fill the slot.
At the end of the day, the people around us should support us no matter the answer, knowing that it reflects what’s best for us. That’s one thing I’ve done really well in the last year; the people I’m around every day genuinely want what’s best for me, and that is so important. It isn’t just about what I can do for them. They want to make sure that I’m able to remain at my best, too. So if people are giving you trouble for saying “no” on occasion because that’s what’s best for you, it may not be worth keeping them around. It’s a tough truth to swallow, but every relationship you have with someone else is a two-way street. The people in your life need to be consistently supportive right alongside you.
Now, here comes my challenge for you. What areas in your life do you need to become more consistent in? Other than writing, I want to become that way in my fitness, as well as in healthier eating habits. My course of action is to write all of the areas I want to consistently pursue and hang them somewhere I’ll see them every day: my bulletin board in my bedroom. I challenge you to do the same. Let’s become more consistent so we can not only discover our success, but our purpose among all that we do.