Consistency is a pillar of success in anything—staying in shape, learning calculus, taking bassoon lessons. You’ve got to do the work regularly to get any good. You need consistency.

But not perfect consistency.

Perfect consistency is a mirage, and when we plan on it, we sabotage ourselves. Highly productive people actually plan on a little failure.

Take exercise, for example. Anybody can work out for a couple of weeks, but let’s say your kid gets sick in week #3 and you miss a couple of workouts. Now, after those two missed workouts, you face the real test. It’s easy to believe that the test was not missing the workouts in the first place (and that you failed) but that wasn’t the real test. The test is whether you have the self-discipline and self-compassion to get your butt back in the gym. If you do, those missed workouts won’t matter in a couple of weeks. If you don’t, those missed workouts were the beginning of the end.

Build a little failure into your plans and increase your chances of success.