It pays to be consistent. When we are trying to reach a goal, it is natural to have times along the way when we feel super-inspired and want to do it all at once, and other times when we may feel like throwing in the towel and giving up. However, the most effective way to succeed is through steady, balanced, and consistent effort, no matter how we may feel at the moment.
This week's portion teaches about the daily tamid offering in the Holy Temple. This service was performed with perfect consistency every day, rain or shine, always. We can learn to infuse our lives with this same quality and tap into the power of consistency.
In our story we learn about the power of consistency.
"KEY TO SUCCESS"
It was a Monday when Mrs. Allen, the chemistry teacher, dropped the bomb. She announced that the big mid-term exam was coming, and only three weeks away! The class broke into a panic, as the kids realized that this important test would likely determine their grade for the whole course.
The teacher tried to calm the class, assuring them that they had plenty of time to study and do well, as long as they planned it out.
"Remember, when it comes to success, consistency's the key," she said.
Laura Landers tried to take the teacher's words to heart. "I guess I'll need about ten hours to really study for the test. That comes out to only about a half an hour each day. I can handle that."
She decided then and there that she would go straight to the local library each day after school and put in her time.
When she got to the library the first day, she found it packed with kids from her class. Laura found a place to sit down, put in her half hour, and packed up to leave.
"Hey, where are you going? Didn't you just get here?" asked Judy, who was sitting at the next table.
Laura tried to explain her plan, but Judy wouldn't hear of it.
"A half-hour? That's it? You've got to be kidding!" Judy scoffed. "I'm really psyched about this test, and plan to camp out here as long as it takes, and really ace it," she said, pointing to her big knapsack filled with all kinds of snacks, drinks, and even a pillow.
Laura felt swayed by the girl's words. Maybe Judy was right and she should just forget about her plan and 'camp out' too. She started to put her stuff back out on the table when she reconsidered. "No - I made a good plan, and consistency's the key. If I stick to it, I'll be fine."
And stick to it, she did. Each day Laura would arrive like clockwork, and put in her allotted time. She noticed, however, that less and less kids were showing up. In fact, she hadn't seen Judy there for almost a week.
The next day she approached her friend in school. "Judy, where have you been?"
Judy shifted uncomfortably. "Umm, you know, I just haven't felt so into studying lately. There's plenty of time left before the test ... and besides, there's this huge sale at Clothing City today. I'm heading there with a couple of other kids right after school. Why don't you join us, and make up your studying tomorrow?"
It sounded tempting, and she really could make up the studying.... But Laura decided to stick with her plan. The sale would have to wait. "For me, consistency's the key," Laurie told Judy. "Go ahead without me."
The days passed and the test was around the corner. Laura noticed the library population begin to increase, but now the atmosphere seemed gripped by a kind of last-minute hysteria. She felt pretty calm, as her plan was paying off and she knew the material well.
Judy, who had reclaimed her place at the table, looked very stressed. When Laura greeted her, she hardly looked up to answer. "Can't talk now, I've got to really cram. I don't know how I'll ever make it!" She sighed, and plunged back into the thick chemistry book like a deep-sea diver.
The day of the test arrived. Laura was pleasantly surprised at how smoothly it had gone for her. The test wasn't easy, but she was ready. Her plan had really worked.
As she headed out of the classroom, she couldn't help but notice her friend Judy's down expression. "Wow, what a killer test!" she sighed. " I'll be lucky if I passed, but I'll bet you aced it, huh?"
Laura shrugged, smiled sympathetically and tried to think of something upbeat to say, but Judy continued to speak. "Mrs. Allen - and you - were really right. Consistency is the key to success. And it's one key that I plan to use from now on to get through life's doors."
Q. How did Judy feel when she first heard about Laura's plan to consistently study a little bit every day?
A. She felt that she would do better just studying when she felt like it, sometimes a lot, sometimes not at all.
Q. How did she feel after the test?
A. She felt sorry that she hadn't made a more consistent plan, so she would have done better on the test.
Q. Why do you think Laura's approach worked better than Judy's?
A. Laura tapped into the power of consistency. She made a reasonable plan, and didn't let her moods interfere with what she needed to do. Judy jumped in too fast, burned out, and in the end, frantically tried to catch up. Her ups and downs made it hard to reach her goal.
Q. What can a person do to help himself put in a consistent effort and reach his goal, even when he doesn't feel like it?
A. An important tool is to learn to be decisive. This means that once we make a well thought out decision, we have to commit ourselves to stick it out and see it through. We should be aware that we may reach a point where we will feel like changing plans or quitting, but if we can hang on and stick to our goal, often these doubts will disappear, and we will accomplish much in our lives.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. What is the power of consistency?
A. Consistency is the key that gives us the power to accomplish super-human goals without super-human effort. To illustrate, there is a famous story of Rabbi Akiba, one of Jewish history's greatest sages and mystics, who was walking through the woods one day and saw a large rock, with a hole in its middle. When he went to investigate, he discovered that the hole had been made by a tiny drip of water that had after many years bored its way through the solid rock! He realized that a drip of water had no power to penetrate a rock, yet with consistent effort, that was what eventually happened. All we have to do is tap in, and we will be amazed at what we can do.
Q. It is obvious why doing less than what we planned to consistently do will inhibit us from reaching our goals, but is there something wrong with jumping ahead and doing more?
A. It may seem like a good idea, but it can often backfire and leave us with a net loss. Often when we feel motivated to try to jump too far, too quickly toward a given goal, our initial enthusiasm eventually wanes, and leaves us unanchored without a firm commitment to get us through. But if we consistently follow a pre-determined moderate plan that we stick to no matter how motivated or unmotivated we may feel at the moment, in the long run we will get much farther than if we jumped after our whims.