“Every social media interaction reveals our search for connection.” ~ René Carrillo
Consistency is something I’ve always admired, and honestly, struggled with. I hear about people who run, meditate, work out, every single day for YEARS! I find their stories both aspiring and deflating, since I do not operate that way. This is how it goes for me: I usually get excited about an idea, work on it for several days, and then I stop. The best example is when I encounter a show or movie I enjoy, I go all in. In addition to binge watching all the seasons, I read about the creators, origin idea, characters, locations, trivia, etc. And then when I am done with that, I lose interest in the show or movie and find it difficult to return once a new season or sequel appears. Recently I finally decided to do something about improving my consistency.
At about the same time I made this decision, I also started to get more involved in Twitter. I had heard about its mix of helpful and toxic environment, but I decided to give it a try. So far, I have found it to be more beneficial than harmful, as long (and this is the key) as you can filter out the negative chit chatter. One of the comments hit me hard. It said that if you want to get better at Twitter, you must tweet original ideas consecutively for a whole year, in order to create the habit. I have been on Twitter since 2011, but only posting about events I attended, or commenting or liking on others’ tweets.
My immediate response to posting original tweets for one year was “no freaking way!” and “That’s too much of a commitment!” But later I started to reconsider. I told myself that since a tweet must be 280 characters or less, it’s actually a very doable goal for me. One of my goals is to write blog posts like this one more regularly. Writing tweets would be a good warm up. I also want to improve on being consistent, so this is a perfect way to do that too. So, on May 30, 2020, @renecarrillo wrote his first original tweet.
I must confess that I was very hesitant to press the “Tweet” button. “Who wants to read my thought?” crossed my mind. But once I convinced myself that this was for the greater good, and I pressed the button, I felt liberated, like I had broken through a mind barrier! Whatever happens, now my thoughts are out there, in the Twittersphere and beyond! The following day I tweeted again, and the fear was less. I continued to do this for one week, then one month. Some days I would post more than once. Then, around tweet #50, I realized that I had maintained the habit of writing down ideas, editing the essence, and then posting them. I felt good about reaching this stage, and that is when I decided to modify my original goal. Instead of tweeting for a year, I decided a quantity of 100 Tweets would meet my goal of consistency and clarity.
My last consecutive tweet was on August 20, 2020, which makes the results of this experiment: 101 tweets over 83 days. I was a bit sad to stop at 101 tweets, but this does not mean I won’t tweet again, just when I want to or when an idea presents itself. I can also start another streak again at any time. I know now for a fact that I can do it, and that is a major win for someone who thought he was not consistent. As they say, “Done is better than perfect.” Below are several takeaways from this experiment.
- “Trick yourself”. Break big projects into smaller sections. This moves them from being intimidating and impossible to manageable and inoffensive. If I had started with the goal “Write a blog post every day,” that would have not lasted very long. A tweet is a mini blog, so the mind sees it as possible.
- Get Uncomfortable. A former beach yoga teacher once said: “Be comfortable being uncomfortable.” (Easier said than done when it’s 100 degrees, I forgot my water bottle and sand is getting everywhere!). But I get it now, the first time will be unbearable, but once you push though it, the second time will be more tolerable, and so on. My 101st tweet was a walk in the park compared to that first one. The key is to break that first barrier. And the best way is just to run towards it with all your might!
- Be flexible. Original goal of 365 days would have been damaging. I would have posted crap tweets just to “get it over with”. The spirit of the goal was to “improve tweets,” or more importantly, to “improve my thinking and communicating.” Completing 100 quality tweets accomplishes this goal better than 365 mediocre tweets. I have no regrets about modifying this goal.
- Form habits. You know you have formed a new habit when it becomes easy to do, and when you don’t have to trick or ask your brain permission to do it. You just do it. Since doing this tweeting project, I have also acquired the following habits: making up my bed, verbally express gratitude, flossing, and others.
- Write it down! Ideas are like clouds. They appear out of nowhere, almost seem to be carried by the wind. And in a very short time, they are taken away by the same forces, and disappear. Write them down immediately! I use Evernote, a fantastic mobile app, that has become my best idea catcher.
- Creativity. Focusing on ideas opens the floodgates of the creative mind. Suddenly, you may be driving or walking, and a solution to a problem you had appears. It’s almost as if someone whispers the answer to you! Or you may come up with a connection between two unrelated topics. That’s your creativity waking up and communicating with you. Listen to it.
- Improvement. From daily writing, I noticed my writing started getting better. I recognized when I was using unnecessary words, when my idea was not clear, etc. I could also categorize ideas into self-improvement, motivation, human behavior, etc. This will help me in other areas of my projects.
You can be your own guinea pig. Pick an area that you want to improve and look for creative ways to accomplish your goals. Know that we are all uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to tweak it, and you will notice that the results will surprise you, and encourage you to even greater tests.
What techniques do you use to stay consistent?