Decision. Incremental. Consistency. Go back to the beginning and read those three words again.
Now pause, close your eyes and imagine that you are writing those three words on the blackboard of your mind. Let them sink in because they can catapult you into a powerful present that births an equally powerful tomorrow. In short, those three words can change your life for the better.
Decision. A decision ignites decisive action. Will I turn left or will I turn right? Will I go faster or slower? Will I take this one or that one? Will I go here or there?
Every morning or the night before, you have to make a decision about what clothes you will wear. The black top or the green one? The striped shirt or checked one? However long you remain undecided about what to wear, you eventually have to make that decision. Unfortunately, critical life decisions are often left unmade because of fear, procrastination and complacency. For instance, we often delay making a decision on healthy eating until a disease forces us to finally do so. Such forced decisions are in some respects like a car that is being pulled by a tow truck as opposed to one that you are driving yourself.
Incremental. I have struggled with this word a lot, especially when am pursuing my passions.
In mid-August 2020, I made a decision to go for 12k runs four times a week and for 40 kilometer cycling once a week. That would leave only two days for rest and recovery. It was quite a tall order since I usually ran twice a week and cycled once.
On the second Monday of August, I dashed out of the house and ran for 12k. My legs were in good shape and I notched a good average speed. I rested on Tuesday, then ran another 12k on Wednesday. On Thursday, I cycled for 43 kilometers in Karura Forest. The following day on Friday, I arose early as usual and matched out of the house ready to run.
As always, I had switched on my running app at Kamuti’s butchery and started running. It took exactly one minute for my body to remind me of that vital word - incremental. Essentially, incremental means ‘one step at a time.’ Come to think of it, that’s how we all walk. Nobody can walk two steps at a time. The stride length may vary, but it’s always one step at a time. Even if you skip and hop, you still have to take one step at a time. Not even Usain Bolt, the fastest man ever, is exempted from this principle. He also had to run one step at a time.
That Friday morning after running for barely a minute, my legs seemed to turn into both sponge and steel. They became rigid, yet mushy. I stopped running, took a U-turn and walked back home. It had been my shortest run ever. I should have increased the frequencies of my runs incrementally, not just made a radical shift from two runs to four runs.
Arrogance and impatience are sworn enemies of incremental. Arrogance whispers in our ears that ‘rules of gradual progress don’t apply to you.’ Impatience whispers in the other ear that, ‘why take one step at a time when you can simply cut corners?’ I had listened to these whispers and assumed that my muscles didn’t need to recover at all. After all, five years ago, I used to run every weekday. I told myself. Well, that was five years ago. That’s where the third word - consistency - comes in.
Commitment (decision) gets you started, incremental keeps you going one step at a time and consistency gets you there. Inconsistency robs us of our progress and takes us back to square one. Inconsistency always engages the reverse gear. It pulls you back, then you have to start again, then it pulls you back, then you have to get started again. Tragically, most people become entangled in this back and forth dance for their entire lives. Don’t be one of those people.
Consistency is the wind that keeps blowing momentum into your sails. That momentum generates even more momentum. Whatever you do, don’t lose this momentum.