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Talking about consistency, actions, and decisions

illustration of a woman studying online

It is the second half of the year. We will face new challenges. Gather new achievements. We will either change or remain the same. We will make new friends, retain old friends, or drop other friends. We will live and let live or continue to pry into other people’s businesses. And we will continue to strive for what we hold dear.

However, if — unfortunately — you are a Nigerian who loves Twitter or earns money from it, each time you need to log in to your account you will continue to use a VPN.

When this year began, I decided to prioritize my mental health by removing myself from toxic spaces. Toxic spaces that worsened my anxiety and sometimes lessened my IQ (do not ask me how). Twitter embodies these features. It embraces cancel culture, generalizations, people who prefer to throw insults through a screen, and people who throw away granularity by being woke or the opposite.

In January, I had had enough of it. I found myself sinking, losing my mind. I could not think for myself. In essence, I began to follow the mob like a dog on a leash. When I discovered this, I deleted the Twitter app and left my account open because although Twitter is a toxic space, it has its uses.

Pulling away was not difficult. I decided to start small because small consistent actions yield more results. I wrote in my agenda for the week, “Do not use twitter this week.” That was all it took. Now I log in to Twitter through my browser when I need to share information, recruit participants for research and reply to direct messages which, thankfully, I hardly receive.

It is the second half of the year. Asides from leaving Twitter, I also wanted to read learn more. I wanted to expand my knowledge, read widely, and inform myself because assimilation never stops. But the fact that many people desire the number of books they read than the quality of knowledge they gain bothered and intimidated me.

Creativity and idea generation allow us to rank quantity over quality. But there comes a time when aiming for quantity loses its importance, and quality prevails.

So, when I prepared my reading list for 2021 — which was the first time I ever prepared one — I made it flexible, not rigid. I also decided to start small, to eliminate all pressure and read in chunks. Rather than reading 50 pages a day, I chose to read for at least 30 mins every day. I suppressed the desire for quantity and focussed on the quality of what I read. By quality, I mean books that interested me, books that gratified me, and books that made me think. Although I intended to make reading a routine I enjoyed, I understood that there were certain things I could not control. On days where I could not read anything, I would listen to a podcast: it could be a channel from BBC sounds, the news for the day, a podcast on psychology, a comedy podcast, it did not matter as long as I learnt something.

Out of the 16 books on my list, I have read nine. Out of the nine books, my favourite is the Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison, which allows me to understand the different dimensions of humanity. I no longer rush to finish reading a book because rushing leads to emptiness. Emptiness leaves you in a bad state. It makes you feel porous until you notice that nothing remains.

We all strive for consistency.

We want to succeed. We make goals to read more, learn more, write more, or take more online courses. We commit to achieving our goals, but shortly after, the commitment fades away. The devotion fades because of how we structure our goals and how we pay attention to the big picture. I learnt this when I found it hard to be consistent.

To achieve consistency, I now ask myself if I want to be consistent about doing something because I want to brag about how much I have done or if I want to be consistent because I want to get better at it. In other words, you may ask yourself: Do you want to, for example, write more because you want to brag about all the articles you have written, or do you want to write more because you see writing as a means of communication and expression, or because you want to get better at writing?

If your goal falls in the latter category, then consistency will come naturally. You will understand that consistency does not necessarily mean consecutive actions, it means doing enough to accomplish your goal.

We tend to develop ourselves when we want to improve and move forward. We market ourselves, make ourselves appealing to others. We invest in ourselves because although life is short, we hope to make a difference in our little way. And with this, I have realised that difference begins with the little steps we take to better ourselves. Although consistency does not equate to consecutive actions, your efforts matter. The little steps, our moments of trial, can be anything if we use those steps, those moments to paint the big picture.