They say there is a fine line between perseverance and plain old stubbornness. One is a surefire way to get to where you want to go, and the other will just give you a concussion from beating your head against the wall. Call it what you will, perseverance is the “stand your ground” attitude that defines a lot of successful people who do get to where they want to go because they didn’t give up when things got tough.
Persistence and perseverance are habits that can be cultivated. Just like anything else that you learn on your journey to success, they can be learned in baby steps. So, since we all know that I’m a master of taking baby steps, here are a few that I’ve learned from when it comes to sticking to your guns and standing your ground to get where you want to be.
1. Know what you want and why you want it before you get started.
It’s hard to persevere when you don’t really have a clue what you’re trying to achieve. If you’re not absolutely clear on what your goals are, then it’s just too easy to get sidetracked. The best way to avoid this is to have a solid plan, backed up by plenty of self-reflection so that your heart and mind are in complete agreement on where you’re going and how you’re getting there.
2. Be willing to take responsibility for your mistakes and the actions needed to fix them.
No one in the world that I know is perfect. We all make mistakes, and fall down from time to time. It’s what happens after that, that determines your success. As the old proverb says, “Fall down seven times, get up eight.” And if you messed up on the way down be willing to admit it and do whatever it takes to fix it and get back on track again.
By the same token, no one that I know has ever had their dreams handed to them on a silver platter. It’d be nice, but it’s not very realistic to think it’s going to happen any time soon. My Daddy always told me that if I wanted to make sure something got done, I’d best do it myself and he was right. If I had relied on others to do everything for me I would never have made it as a single parent, or been able to get my degrees.
The common denominator in both cases is that you have to take action. You won’t get anything sitting on your butt waiting for it. Sure you might take a tumble or two, but at least you’ll have done something.
3. Looking for the good in every situation is another way to develop your own persistence. It takes a positive attitude to get things done and achieve your goals, so by focusing on the good stuff even when it looks like everything is about to fall to pieces, you’ll be more likely to stand your ground and try again to make things work.
4. Learn how to manage your stress. This one’s a biggie for me, and lucky for you I will most likely be preaching stress management for the rest of my life. :)
Seriously, though, when you’re stressed out you don’t think straight. You’re also more likely to let the negative energy take over and deter you from your course. Put simply, stress and perseverance do not go well together.
Meditate, learn yoga, or take up kickboxing but do whatever you have to in order to release the stress from your life.
5. Know what your bad habits are and make plans to change them.
Some people would call bad habits self-sabotage. I used to be one of them, but I recently heard a lecture where the speaker (his name escapes me at the moment) said there is no such thing as self-sabotage, only bad choices. So bad habits, bad choices, both need to be eliminated if you are going to be able to persevere on the road to success.
For me, those bad habits would be procrastinating and having too many projects on the go at one time. I’m getting better at focusing and getting things done but there’s still a long way to go. (Shhh… don’t tell anybody I’m not perfect, okay? LOL)
6. Put your pride in your pocket and ask for help if you need it.
This is one of those places where the line between perseverance and stubbornness gets crossed. Not asking for help or advice when you know you need it is just plain stubborn. It’s like those men who won’t ask for directions when it’s obvious to everyone else in the car that they’re completely lost. Don’t be like that. Lost won’t get you where you want to go. Ask for directions.
(Aside: I’ve been listening to a Billy Currington CD as I’m writing this. Just as I typed that last line, the song “Good Directions” started playing. How’s that for being in tune?)
Take baby steps if you have to. Take leaps of faith when they are required. But above all, be like the acorn… hold your ground and follow your dreams and you will get there in the end.
And if you start to feel like it’s impossible, remember this:
“In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins- not through strength but by perseverance.” ~ H. Jackson Brown
You, too, can be the stream.