Chase consistency, not perfection. Relentless effort is what will take you above and beyond, not maximum effort.
We are growing so impatient with the things we want in this world that when we choose to start something, whether it be a new project, embark on a new adventure, set a new goal or pursue a new direction, we are bright-eyed with excitement and full of energy. Ever since we have entered this world, it has been our innate behaviour to demand the things we want and to have that demand filled as soon as possible. We cry when we are hungry and stop when we are fed. We throw tantrums when our favoured toy gets left behind on the shelves of the supermarket, we feel the anger boil up inside us as we yell, kicking and screaming, when what we want isn’t fulfilled or met with the same enthusiasm.
As we grow older, we learn that we must learn to be respectable and presentable human beings with poise, composure and maturity. So we no longer cry when our stomachs grumble, we no longer burst into rage black-outs over trivial matters and over time, we learn to develop emotions and actions that are both acceptable, and rational.
However, this innate behaviour actually never really leaves this small part of our brain that still wants to remain like an innocent infant who gets given everything they’ve ever asked for. We have tendencies to put in maximal effort into some of the things we do, most notably new and fresh adventures that we want to embark on. The ideas of these are not only exciting, but also seem achievable and within reach as we envision reaping the successes of conquering this goal. In our minds, we can see the perfect rock-hard physique we’ve worked so hard to build, the immaculately waxed luxury car that we’re finally able to call ours, the pristine glass office with our full name embedded in golden plaque letters on the front door, guarded by the beautiful and intelligent secretary seated outside to let everyone know that you’re in a meeting and that if you shoot an email marked URGENT, then it might garner a few seconds of your precious attention.
We get a thrill of adrenaline when we entertain in these final thoughts, these “destinations”, that we feel a spur of energy into pursuing that goal and finally being able to see it to fruition. We hit the gym and put in the additional reps, stay an extra few hours longer at work to get noticed for that promotion, we’ll budget an additional few hundred dollars in our bank account to save towards that car, we’ll promise ourselves we’ll hustle and hustle hard and give it all we got. And after a few days, or a few weeks, that same “destination thought” we had in the beginning seems a little less colourful and a little more grey. We still want it just as bad, but it’s become a little less clear in our minds now. Our energy begins to wane, and those additional reps start to turn into longer rest periods between sets. The extra few hours at work soon feel forced and you feel like you should be compensated or recognised for this initiative. Not before long, you put these destination thoughts on hold and begin to live a more comfortable life without the pain of maximum effort.
This is where consistency will always win over perfection. This is where chasing your dreams with a relentless hunger will always win over short bursts of maximal energy. Peaks are short-lived and will always come with a ground-stopping downfall. The small tweaks you make day by day will amount to a slow progression towards these destination thoughts, because our energy is not limitless nor is it infinite. Our energy is so precious and varies day by day depending on our external factors and internal emotions, which is why we will always fall short if we chase a perfection mindset. On our off days, we might not have so much energy to give towards our goals, we might not have enough energy to even complete our sets. The all or nothing approach during these bleaker days will tempt you to give yourself a break, call it off, give yourself an off-day or a mini holiday to reset your mentality. But relentless effort will have you turning up, putting in the reps, regardless of how many you were able to perform, and still be one small baby step closer towards your destination thoughts.
Find your spark, but don’t light an inferno. Feed the slow-burn, watch the flame flicker and dance and crackle, be relentless in keeping the fire alive and burning, and in time they will catch into fierce embers – a wildfire in the wilderness. And when that happens, there will be nothing that can stop you.