What we do most of the time matters far more than what we do once in awhile.
This is a rule of life. Any mindset shift you make has the potential to result in a new habit. Or, a permanent change even. But, more likely than not, nothing that you do in life is 100% the same every single time. Even thinking that it could or should be is overwhelming to me. Because we absolutely cannot be perfect.
This is one of the essential building blocks of what my friend, Sarah, would call The B+ Life. We have the first of a few chats about habits on our podcast 25% Friends starting this Thursday!
The biggest topic that comes to mind when I think about consistency is food. As a society, we feel so obsessed over it. So tormented by it. We want it because we can't have it. And we don't want it because we're supposed to have it. The psychology of food, cravings, and obesity is maddening.
When building good habits that serve us, consistency is really the key to everything. Nutrition, obviously. Exercise. Sleep. Productivity. We can never do any of these things perfectly all the time. And when we eat something bad, miss a workout, don't get something checked off the to-do list... the default reaction is to throw in the towel and double down to commit to doing it perfectly on a new Day 1. Whenever the heck that might be.
Scarier yet, sometimes we subconsciously sabotage ourselves to give us permission to take an out to a later date. And then feel shame over it. And beat up all over ourselves. That sucks!
That need to start over with a clean slate on a new day is natural. But it's not the truth. You in fact don't need to start over on a new day. That logic is a lie. It's the same lie as January 1st. Every single choice we make can be independent from the last. So you inhaled a giant bag of not-baked chips. SO? What you do next is more important than what the chips are doing to you. If you can make the chips happen in isolation, they are something that just happens once in a awhile. I wouldn't even characterize that as an accident. Like, when I accidentally eat an entire container of guacamole. It's actually 100% totally fine. Because most of the time, I eat normal portions of guacamole and make other good choices for myself.
I try to use the 80/20 rule. If I get 8 hours of sleep 5-6 nights a week, I don't worry about the 1-2 where I didn't get enough. If I eat a piece of Costco cake, my life isn't over. And it's also not a cheat. It's just part of the 20... moving on. The idea of a cheat is wasteful mindset, IMHO. It makes foods that we want, but are also off limits, illicit. And then we obsess. It's only natural.
I cannot forbid myself not-baked chips, desserts, or frosting. The moment I label them as bad foods, I automatically want to make bad choices about them. So, they are not off limits. I can have them if I want them. I am allowed to go against my general health goals occasionally -- guilt free -- knowing that it won't lead me down a nasty shame spiral. Consistency is your friend. Perfect is your enemy. Always.