According to the Encarta® World English Dictionary, persistence is the quality of continuing steadily, despite problems or obstacles. What a valuable skill! What does it take to be able to keep going even when obstacles and other challenges fall in your path? Why do some people keep going where others stop? As a coach, this is something I have been paying a lot of attention to, studying, and observing in myself and in my clients. I have come up with some key points that will impact your ability to be persistent to create what you want for yourself in your life. Incorporate these ideas to see the benefits of persistence in your own life.
Believe in Yourself
If you don’t believe in your dream, who else will? It starts with YOU. If you believe you will achieve your dream and you can stay focused, the obstacles will seem less significant. Every day, remind yourself of what you’re working for; remind yourself of all the positive benefits you will enjoy when you achieve your desired outcome. The more you focus on the ultimate end goal, the fewer setbacks will affect your process.
Ask For Help
Sometimes people don’t get what they want because they have a belief that they have to do it all themselves. Ask yourself if there is anything that someone could help you with to make the process of achieving your goal faster. Oftentimes, someone else might be in a position to accomplish something relatively easily and quickly because of his or her experience, resources or connections. And they’d be more than happy to help, but you’ve got to ask. People generally like to be needed and helpful when they can. The key is clarity. Be clear on what you’re asking them to do. If you’re too vague, they won’t know if or how they can support you. If you make a clear request for assistance, they’ll be able to say YES! And if they can’t help personally, they may know someone who would be able to.
To start, you’ve got to be clear on your dream and be able to articulate it succinctly. Write it out and practice speaking it aloud until it rolls off your tongue in a minute or two. This is your elevator speech – you know, the quick 30 second –> two minute summary sharing the value/quality/importance of what you do when asked “So, what do you do?” when those elevator doors close and you’ve got a captive audience of someone potentially influencial.
Second, write down the answers to these three questions:
1. Where do I need help?
2. Who am I going to ask?
3. What am I going to say?
Once you’re comfortable with who you’re going to ask and what you’re going to say, take a breath and make that first call. Each one will get easier once you get started. Don’t forget to say Thank You to your supporters.
When you want to get something accomplished, think creatively. Do some research; find out what other people have done in your situation. Interview people that have accomplished what you’re pursuing. Ask people you respect what they think and what they would do in your situation. Brainstorm, do some planning, take a walk and ponder how to overcome your obstacles. There is more than one solution to most of life’s challenges.
When you have a setback, don’t sit around and mope and contemplate everything you could have done differently, you will find it more difficult to get moving again. Instead, ask yourself what you can do to keep your project moving and then do it. Look for things to do that will offer you a quick win to keep you motivated.
Try Something Different
If you are persistent and you feel that you are not making progress, consider another approach. For example, if you are trying to book an appointment with someone and they keep putting you off, try finding another way to connect. Consider inviting them to a lecture you think they would enjoy, or find out what their favorite charity is and make a donation in their name, or find out where they lunch or workout and “bump into” them.
Celebrate the Small Successes
As you pursue a big goal, like building a house or losing a large amount of weight, a lot of time will pass. Since there will be ups and downs, it is important that you don’t only focus on your long-term desired outcome. A key ingredient in persistence is that you find small successes to celebrate along the way. For example, if you are building a house, celebrate that you gutted the kitchen, paved the driveway or installed the smoke detectors. Each small task is another success to celebrate in the pursuit of your larger objective. The more you celebrate, the more fun the whole process will be and the more you will feel good about what you are doing.
Apply these ideas every day in your personal and professional life. Developing your ability to be persistent will bring you many rewards. Plus, being persistent – pursuing what you want and accomplishing it – is one of the best ways to build a stronger sense of self. We can all use more of that.