There is one habit that trumps all the applications, categories, and lessons before it. It’s more important than brushing your teeth, getting enough sleep, or working out. It’s even more important than telling your child you love them or being of service in your community.
An analogy derived from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People perfectly encapsulates the significance of this habit. Stephen R. Covey contrasts cramming for exams with farming. You can skip class all semester and not even crack open the spine of your fresh textbook. You spend your time at the campus bar until exam season rolls around and then you spend a few hellish days locked in the library trying to consume as much data as your poor dehydrated, caffeinated brain can handle.
Imagine this same scenario on a farm. A farmer spends his or her days sun-tanning and lounging around the rural refuge until harvest time. He/she realizes that other farmers are growing their crops and quickly scrambles to plant as many seeds as possible. Will this farmer have their crops on time? Of course not. We reap what we sow.
The Most Important Habit is Consistency.
Consistency is the most important habit you will ever develop. It’s not enough to brush your teeth once a year, get enough sleep on the weekend, work out when you feel like it (rarely), or tell your child you love them when they’re sick.
Consistency is more important than intensity. This is evident in extreme dieting, New Year’s Resolutions, and unrealistic goal setting. It’s important to set small goals every day that can be attained to create a sense of confidence and feeling of capability. These goals can only be built upon once they are mastered at their basic level.
How to Set Goals You’ll Stick To.
If you’ve been trying to start meditating every day or lose that last ten pounds but continuously attempt and then fail, you may be setting goals ineffectively. I’m guilty of entering a situation with an all or nothing mindset. I like to quit sugar cold turkey or set out to go to the gym for an hour a day, seven days a week. These goals aren’t impossible, but they’re certainly more unrealistic when you’re starting from a high-sugar, sedentary foundation.
Set realistic goals every day. Commit 5 minutes a morning to meditate. If you consistently accomplish the small goal you set out to do, you begin to feel a sense of accomplishment and can build upon your initial goals. Perhaps you move from 5 minutes to a modest 8 minutes. These slow and steady steps create a sturdy foundation that supports lofty future endeavors.
Consistency is Karma.
When you decide to sit for your morning meditation, you are planting a seed for your karmic future. The seeds you continually plant will produce a specific kind of harvest. The seeds of consistent fast food, skipping the gym and missing consecutive sleep will lead to a probable future of weight gain or chronic illness.
In the same manner, planting seeds and consistently watering them will lead to an intentional fruitful harvest in the future. It’s important that you decide what seeds you want to plant, but it’s even more important that you don’t abandon them in the ground.
How to Start Your Garden.
The most important habit you can develop is consistency. This statement is really saying that the best habit is a habit itself. In order to grow a garden of success, you need planning, planting, and nurturing. It’s only after you consistently water and attend to your seeds (intentions) that you can expect the fruits of your labour (success).