How To Be Consistently Consistent: My Weird, Unconventional Trick to Kick Ass Across the Board

My goal is to put myself out of business.

As an entrepreneur, that’s idiotic.

As a coach/soon-to-be-therapist, that makes me effective.

When I work with clients, the last thing I want is for them to become dependent on me. Instead, we solve a problem together and go over the exact steps that led to their success. That way, they can replicate it on their own the next time they feel stuck. 

Whether it's finding a career that's motivating, a partner that's loving, or a system to stop procrastinating, most of us are great at figuring out what isn't working, but we fail to notice what's working well.

Why does that matter?

No, I'm not going to go on a tirade about awareness and gratitude (though those are both valid and on the docket for future posts). This is about figuring out your recipe for success. And that brings me to todays' topic:

How to reverse-engineer what's working so you Get Consistent Results:  

Good News, Bad News, Better News.

Let’s start with the good news: When you figure out how to outsmart yourself, you won’t have the same problem again.

Bad news: Once you solve your problem, you'll probably make new mistakes or have new problems. (I know, sucks to be human!)

Better news: The same system to solve that first problem can be used across the board. In all areas. No matter what.

All you need to get started is to ignore your problem.

What now? How’s that possible?

One of the (many) differences between “traditional” therapy and the work I do is that I focus on what’s working. Sounds counter-intuitive, but the key to fixing what isn’t working is to start with what's working well and reverse-engineer it.

To be honest,  I’m not the coach for everyone. If you want to spend your time bitching about what’s not working, why life sucks, and why everyone else is to blame, we're not a good fit. Partly because that’s a downer and I don’t want to hear it, but more than that, it’s because that isn’t going to fix shit.

While this approach is highly effective, it’s also surprisingly difficult for most people. (I get it, if we could see our blind spots, they wouldn’t be “blind” spots.)

Here’s How It Typically Goes:

Amita: What are the things in your life that don’t require excess amounts of motivation or “self-discipline?” In other words, what comes naturally without pushing yourself?

Client: I procrastinate on most things, but I usually manage to exercise consistently without needing reminders. But that’s completely different, it doesn’t really count.

Amita: Why doesn’t it count?

Client: That isn’t “productive.” I just do it because it makes me feel good and I like being in shape. That’s not as important as my career though, that's where I need help.

Amita: Well a lot of things feel good. Like warm baths, new socks, or mind-blowing sex. But those things don’t really require the same amount of innate motivation that helps you to work out. So, what makes this different?

Client: It’s important to me. But so is my writing career. (Dramatic Sigh)

Amita: Since exercise is something you value, you’re willing to invest time and energy into it. So how does working out look different in your life than the actions you’re taking in your writing career? What does your workout habit actually look like?

Client: Well, I know when I get home from work that I'll go to the gym with my friend. And I’m motivated because I see results so I keep doing it. But who cares if that’s going well?! My career is way more important and I’m not getting anywhere!

Amita: Well, let’s look at your process. Your recipe for success at the gym is 1) Scheduling it in as a predictable part of your routine 2) Accountability 3) A social component that helps you feel connected 4) Results that motivate you to continue. Does that sound right?

Client: Yes, I didn't realize I do all that!

Amita: Most of us don't notice or question the things that work well in our lives. We put our energy into focusing on what's wrong, not what's right. Let’s draw from that and make your writing routine mirror your exercise routine.

The conversation continued with only a small amount of teeth-pulling to include that he would:

  • Add in 20 minutes of writing each morning before going to work (even if all he wrote was that he was pissed at me for making him do it!)
  • Check in once per week with his action partner on any new steps or new content he created. 
  • Meet weekly with a friend in a similar field to write and bounce ideas off each other.
  • Start submitting his articles to websites to see new results to encourage momentum.

I should note that my clients aren’t as whiny or irritating as this conversation came off.  They are inspiring, motivating, and above all else, they are committed to creating real change.

Figure Out Your Strategy For Success:

When you’re at your best, what are the processes that make you successful? Drill down on the answers by reflecting on the moments when you’re motivated to accomplish your goals:

  1. What are you doing differently?
  2. What are you focusing on?
  3. What actions are you taking?

In other words, what’s your recipe for success? Is it knowing when to take action? Is it going to a specific place? Is it having an accountability partner? Is it having a compelling or motivating reason? Whatever it is…

Decode it. Translate it. Do it. 

How to Become Wildly Successful Without Spending A Dime

One of my closest friends loves to complain about her job. She’s bright, creative, and could get a job anywhere if she were willing to complain less and apply more.  So I was surprised to hear that when she received an exciting new offer, she turned it down. In a less-than-successful attempt to take my coach hat off and put my friend hat on, I asked, “How did you make that decision?” She told me that after talking to her parents and boyfriend, she decided it was best to stay put. It occurred to me that her staying at her job meant I was destined for a lifetime of tortured text messages. And then, in an empathetic flash, it hit me:

Wasn’t I guilty of making decisions that derailed me?

Hadn’t I turned to the people closest to me for advice whether or not they knew what they were talking about?

Before I had a mentor, hadn’t I been like everyone else who made important decisions in isolation or by crowd-sourcing answers from friends, family, and Facebook?

So what changed?

One day after a frustrating conversation with a loved one, I realized that every time I came to her, I either felt misunderstood, disappointed, or I had received crappy advice. And since I couldn’t change what came out of her mouth, I accepted that I needed to change my behavior. It was then that I vowed to only ask for advice from people who have what I want. But since Oprah wouldn’t take my calls, I decided that I needed to create a cabinet of trusted advisors. Because if the president has a team of go-to people, I should, too. 

I needed a team of mentors who not only had what I wanted, but were willing to guide me. But before I could research, network, or contact anyone, I needed to get super clear on what I wanted (lest I set myself or another up for disappointment) “Mentorship” is a word that gets thrown around quite a bit. It isn’t a term for just anyone you go to for advice or support. A mentor is a well-connected, trusted, experienced, supportive, wise advisor. Most importantly, a mentor is someone who believes in your highest vision of yourself. It isn’t your parents, friends, or bed-fellows. While these people love and support you, they are not always the best sources of advice. Because convenience is not the same as competence. 

Whether you’re young, old, aimless, or well-established, everyone can benefit from the wisdom and guidance of someone who’s been in their shoes. Even Oprah credits her success to her mentor, Maya Angelou. (Not too shabby!)

A lot of people have gone further in life than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.
— Zig Ziglar

Because here’s the simple truth nobody talks about: None of us would be where we are without the support and guidance of someone further on their journey. My mentor has helped me by providing concrete knowledge, honest feedback, and new opportunities.

Many people ask, why would anyone want to be my mentor? The relationship benefits everyone. For example, the mentor gets the tingly feeling of gratitude for helping another, gains a new perspective, and builds on her network of like-minded people. However, not everyone is ready to be mentored or be a mentor. So think carefully and choose wisely.

If you’re seeking a mentor, make sure you are:

  • Committed to becoming your best self
  • Willing to communicate openly
  • Ready to look at yourself honestly
  • Consistent and reliable
  • Capable of follow-through
  • Have clear goals or are willing to set goals
  • Willing to receive feedback

If you’re seeking a mentee, make sure you are:

  • Generous and patient
  • An excellent communicator
  • Interested in sharing your knowledge and experience with others
  • Clear on your values
  • Honest and have integrity
  • Willing to share your network
  • Able to enhance someone’s self-esteem
  • Able to provide emotional and professional support
  • Able to act as a role model
  • Passionate about teaching

The mentor and mentee should have a clear conversation to ensure they have similar goals, values, and a vision for what the relationship will look like.

For those seeking support who need accountability, consistent communication, or motivation, mentorship may not provide you with the relationship or results that you want. And that’s okay! Find an accountability buddy or coach who will provide the structure you need to set you up for success. Once that’s in place, you’ll have the personal systems you need to make the most of a mentoring partnership.

The Takeaway:

When seeking guidance, don’t sacrifice competence for convenience. Find mentors who will guide and support your journey.


Why Not Making Mistakes Is The Biggest Mistake

We all make mistakes when pursuing goals or creating new habits.  Whether it’s adding in more exercise, controlling our road rage, or not eating a handful of Reese’s Pieces before a meal (yes, that last one just happened), we all have slips when we’re trying to make changes.

I’m not going to go into some overplayed spiel on how we are too hard on ourselves or how we need to work on self-forgiveness. All that’s true, but you already know it and I don’t see the point in writing it.

I think fuckups are the best thing that ever happened. In fact, it’s better to set a goal and fumble along the way than to achieve it perfectly. Why? Because:

  1. No goal worth achieving should be that easy to do. If you can do it perfectly, it’s not the right goal. Willpower alone isn’t enough to get the good stuff. Take a risk and think big.
  2.  A goal that’s hard gives you more bang for your buck. When you hit a wall and persevere, you learn to troubleshoot, tolerate discomfort, and/or ask for help. And we all could stand to improve those skills.
  3. Mistakes allow you to perfect your system. Some people give up at the first challenge, others use the challenge to rethink their tactics. And, not surprisingly, the latter are the ones who achieve their goals. The truth is that no amount of planning prepares you 100%, if you aren’t willing to be flexible, chances are you won’t get there.
  4. How you do anything is how you do everything. Similarly, how you screw up one thing is how you screw up everything. (That sounded harsher than I intended, but just go with me on this one.) If your mistake is that you didn’t budget enough time for a task, chances are that’s a roadblock in other areas too. Addressing it head on will help you to address it across the board.
  5. Perseverance builds self-trust. Every time you make a mistake and quit, you reaffirm the belief that you can’t do it. And since that belief has, historically, gotten you less than desirable results, it’s time to choose a more resourceful belief. Simply put, if you believe “I’m a quitter” you will use that to rationalize quitting. Instead, consciously choose a belief that gets you the results you want. Try, “Maybe I’ve quit in the past, but this time I’m going to stick it out.” Then, act like someone who has that belief. (Hint: They don’t quit!)

Here’s the takeaway: 

Mistakes are opportunities to look at yourself, your system, and your choices. If you want to look at it as an excuse to quit or beat yourself up, by all means, keep playing small. But if you want to use it to jumpstart your growth, you’ll be making a decision that will have a powerful ripple effect in every area of your life.

The choice is yours.