The 5 Steps Series - Step 4) Consistency

Leading on from the Action step is Consistency. Again, it’s an evolution from the previous steps. If Action was the rubber meeting the road, then this is staying on the road until you reach your final destination. (Or as the picture above represents - climbing to the top, one step at a time)

A good phrase which I think epitomises this step is “you are what you repeatedly do, therefore success is not an act but a habit” - Aristotle.

Another phrase I came up with and used for Personal Training clients (and now Financial Planning clients) is “if you want to be healthy (wealthy), then you need to act healthy (wealthy) every day to attain it and maintain it”. What I mean by that is that if you want to be healthy then you need to eat well and exercise regularly (every day/week). You don’t just eat healthy once or exercise once and that makes you healthy. Instead it’s a habit or a way of life.

You need to stick with those habits long enough to attain your desired level of health and then maintain those same habits to keep that level of health. You can’t just start eating bad and stop exercising once you reach your goal health level otherwise you’ll start going backwards.

The same is true for your money. There is a level of discipline and consistency required to build your wealth and that needs to be maintained for as long as you want to be building and maintaining your desired level of wealth. Again, the minute you stop maintaining your good habits and start doing the opposite (ie not saving, spending recklessly, not sticking to your plan, etc) your wealth will also start going backwards.

This is the hardest part of all the steps. It’s what takes the longest. Using a gardening analogy, the previous Action step is the equivalent of planting the plants and this Consistency step is the equivalent of nurturing them all the way through to harvest. It requires constant effort (and Adjustments) over an extended period of time to see results. That's because results precede effort, not the other way around.

Action alone is not enough. Unfortunately, many people fall down at the previous Action step because they (want to) believe that all they need to do is act once and that’s good enough. Maybe they’ve “sorted out” their finances or diet once before and so “she’ll be right mate”. But that’s the equivalent of wanting a magic pill. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t exist. You need to stick at it for a while if you want to make real progress. (Quick results aren't real and real results aren't quick)

And that’s the reason why it needs to become a lifestyle shift. Every step leading up to this point is to help you prepare for that shift so that it is comfortable and sustainable for you for a prolonged period of time.If you follow all the steps leading up to this step, then you'll give yourself the best chance of being consistent and progressing towards what you want. Something to remember here is that, if you want your financial situation to change for the better, then you have to change for the better first!

And despite what people might say, the old “set and forget” strategy is just a myth. You need to make consistent effort and you also need to adjust your plan and your efforts/behaviours along the way as things change (and they always change).

And on that point, we'll move to the final step of the system – Step 5) Adjustment.

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Blake Fitzgerald of Coached Financial Planning (ABN 28 452 214 548) is an Authorised Representative (1236826)

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