The Neglected Art of Consistency: Learnable Skills that Transform Your Relationship to Creating

The Neglected Art of Consistency: Learnable Skills that Transform Your Relationship to Creating
Photo by Dominik Scythe / Unsplash

I’ve recently been making TikToks. A single one, Monday through Friday, without fail.

I want to share the lessons I’m getting from doing this because I think they apply to the successful creation of anything; and the skills required are radically underrepresented, to our detriment.

After multiple fleeting attempts to build a social presence; and a growing sense that “it's now or never”; it had become painfully clear: whatever it means to create this consistency, must become what I do. And that anything that misdirects me from building it is simply a thing I can learn to navigate.

Once you decide: this will happen, you can adjust yourself around that idea, so you learn whatever it is you need to learn, in order to keep it going.

But of course, for that kind of commitment you would have to have an almost religious awakening to the importance of consistency, over so many other things that sound more exciting. And many probably do:

  • Sparkling ideas on shiny new book covers might sound more appealing than consistency
  • Fantasizing about all our future fans might sound more appealing than consistency
  • Talking to friends about our next amazing project might seem far more fun, than the consistency of putting the next brick on the building.

The only trouble is that without it, you are left with air castles. And that never changes, without addressing the art of consistency. And after enough time, you become tired of air castles.

Business gurus want to sell you on the promise of a glamorous future, where your grateful followers pay you good money for online courses or whatever. They certainly wouldn’t want to spend too much time talking about what it feels like to have five followers, or two hundred.

Because the algorithm can sense that you’d rather hear about the hundred thousand followers, and the guru wants to get her message to you. The only trouble is, you are going to have to experience five followers, and then twenty, and then thirty, first.

And if you can’t learn to put your heart into sharing your voice with those thirty, the hundred thousand will never come. And as much as these gurus want to excite you with what they have created, I think by and large they are not so good at teaching you this:

They were able to create consistency when they had five followers. They had learned how to enjoy the ride somehow; had made a habit of it; and they did it no matter what. But I don’t see a lot of people able to teach people how they did that. How did they find that consistency when they had five followers? It was the art of consistency of course, but most people don't know how to teach it or talk about it.

And the algorithm senses that you want to hear stories about how great it could be, or soak up information about what’s possible, but the truth is this: You are going to have to learn skills that have nothing to do with absorbing information. And nothing to do with the beauty of your idea as it lives inside your personal world. You are going to have to find the emotional wherewithal to create a rhythm of consistency when that sometimes feels great and exhilarating, and sometimes feels a little exhausting (like now, as I type this at 8:41 on a Sunday evening).

Because what you are going to do, if you are able to create this social media presence, business, or movement, is to more or less master the art of consistency.

Learning how it feels to get the work out, and make dinner, and get to bed at a reasonable hour. Or honing your sense of what good enough feels like — Something in the territory well below “perfect” and well above “trivial”, in a space where you can create meaning. Sloppy, good, decent, human, meaning. A chunk at a time.

Had you ever thought of learning the art of consistency, of it being a set of teachable skills?

What if you haven’t been consistent, simply because no one taught you the skills necessary to become consistent?

And now, let me tell you what I have found with my TikToks, a little more than a month on.

When I started, my videos were getting around 200 views. After three weeks, I took some time to see which ones did well and which did not, and made a few adjustments.

The following week, my average video began getting closer to 400 views.

After another week I did some more research, thought more about what was working, and applied it. Then last Thursday, I posted a video that has (at the time of this writing) 4,070 views, 867 likes, 24 shares, and 201 saves.

Having that 4,070 video show up helped me see where the thing I've been growing could go from “micro” status to something bigger. And for all the glamorousness of “shooting for the moon” (and that’s just great), when we are in the trenches trying and trying, these smaller wins feel just as exciting as anything.

Like all practice-oriented activities, there is no direct way to predict which video will get more views. And yet, posting more tends to attract more people. There is no direct way to predict which video will take off. And yet, when I keep taking some time to apply what I learn, I do keep getting better outcomes.

When we’re in dreaming mode, it takes a monumental vision of success to move us. But when we’re doing the work, progress itself becomes exciting. And this is the thing:

The practice of consistency brings us into a rhythm where the day-to-day actions begin to seem important. Where the posts, the connections, and the learnings each seem to matter. And this is the same energy we will need to one day reach our big goal.