Whenever we’re faced with a hefty task or an ambitious vision, it’s not uncommon to encounter hurdles that can test our patience and perseverance. Oftentimes, it’s much easier to quit than to keep pushing ourselves towards something we want that can’t seem to want us back.
But, if we’ve already set our mind to achieve a goal no matter the setbacks, then the only key to unlocking that door to success is persistence. Being persistent means choosing to keep going amidst challenges and failures. It’s our ability to get up every time we fall down.
Taking this hard route will not always be our favorite option. So, here, I’m going to tell you more about the impact of persistence and how you can develop this life skill!
- Factors influencing persistence
- Persistence rules
- Persistence predicts success
- The dangers of persistence
- How to be more persistent
- Wrapping up
This article is part of a much bigger guide on learning how to become happy that I’m sure is the biggest freely available guide on the internet right now. This article contains some great tips, but you’ll find a lot more actionable tips in the section Happiness Tips!
Factors influencing persistence
What motivates us to persist?
In a study that explores the persistence of first-year university students, it has been found that there are various factors that predict persistence among freshmen.
One of the top factors that have an effect on academic persistence is interest. Aside from enjoyment, interest also includes one’s certainty in taking that particular course which affects the student’s likelihood of sticking to it instead of dropping out.
Another huge factor is the occurrence of life events outside of their academics, such as a parent getting ill. Striking moments in the student’s campus life can also cause stress and becomes detrimental to persistence, such as the exam period or the release of exam results. It’s because these happenings are “emotionally charged” which can influence a person’s ability to keep going.
Lastly, the study has found that there’s also a social factor to persistence. When students get a strong sense of support from their social connections, then they are more likely to feel “energized” to perform well at school.
When we’re tackling a goal, when do we know when to stop or to keep going? There are so-called “persistence rules” that we internally follow when deciding between the two.
According to this study on the persistence of employees, there are two rules that working individuals personally follow: the enough rule and the enjoyment rule.
I’m sure you can relate to these rules – the former is persisting until you think you’ve done enough work and the latter is persisting until you’ve lost interest in what you’re doing.
Personally, I follow different rules depending on my mood and the time that I have to finish a task.
If I’m generally feeling tired or anxious on a particular day, then I would follow the enough rule. I wouldn’t try to force myself to continue working if my mind or body is no longer capable to do so.
Otherwise, when I’m feeling motivated to work on a task and I’m not under a strict deadline, I have the tendency to keep going as much as I can until I get distracted or disinterested.
Persistence predicts success
Being persistent doesn’t come easy, so why should we keep trying?
One of the buzz words that recently came up in the psychological sphere is grit. This term is defined as one’s quality to sustain their passion or to persevere through a long period of time.
According to this study, grit can predict success in various settings – from Ivy League undergraduates’ academic performance to elementary kids’ ranking in a spelling bee.
The dangers of persistence
Like any other good thing in this world, persistence also has a downside. When we can’t correctly identify when to persist and when to stop, there are consequences that may befall us such as:
- We waste our resources on meaningless or worthless endeavors
- We ignore better alternatives
- We stress ourselves out and harm our mental health
- We let pride get in the way and refuse to admit that we have failed
- We find out that pain doesn’t always feel rewarding in the end
As they say, we should always take things in moderation, and persistence is no exception. Sometimes, we think that we just have to endure a painful situation and hold it out for a longer period of time, and we’ll later on reap the benefits that we deserve. But, we don’t realize that, often, staying is actually more harmful than letting go and starting anew.
If you find yourself in this kind of pickle, don’t worry because I’ve got some helpful tips to guide you through the right path to persistence!
How to be more persistent
For you to find success in persisting, here are 5 simple tips to keep you on track:
1. Dream big, start small
It’s important to have a vision and plan your way into achieving it. It will give you a sense of direction, but don’t get too lost in trying to tackle your goals on the get-go.
Yes, you must dream big. But, remember that you won’t get there if you don’t start with the least amount of work possible.
Aside from avoiding being overwhelmed, doing small tasks can also get us through the day. Not the week, not the year – just the day. It’s easy to get burnt out when we keep on working without seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. But, the key to this is just lighting a little flame and taking it one step at a time.
2. Know the reason behind your goals
The secret to doing more is having a source of motivation. And this motivation lies in the reasons why we’re doing something in the first place.
Remember: reasons reap results. To persist is to keep coming back to the “whys” and letting them fuel us to keep going.
I am currently taking my Master’s degree in Counselling Psychology, and, even though I’m only in my first year, there are moments when I’ve actually considered deferring this year just because of the toll that this pandemic has taken on myself and the rest of the world. It’s not easy to pursue something when everyone seems to be at a standstill.
But, I always go back to my reasons as to why I want to continue my studies. I have a purpose, and that is to help others who are struggling with their mental health and to remind them what it’s like to be human. And, whenever I think about that, I just feel like there’s no time to be wasted – I can power through this!
3. Rest, don’t quit
I’m a big believer in taking conscious breaks. It’s important that we allow ourselves to rest in between our attempts at conquering the world. As they say, we can’t give what we don’t have. So, how can we persist towards our goals when we’re already running low inside?
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned about persistence is that taking a break doesn’t mean we’re quitting. It doesn’t mean that we’re losing time or we’re being lazy. For me, rest is an integral part of the process and not a detriment to it.
So, if you’re currently struggling with pursuing your goal or completing a task, perhaps it’s your inner-self telling you that it’s time to recharge before you make another move.
4. Find different solutions to your setbacks
Sometimes, we get too stubborn or rigid when it comes to sticking to our goals. But, it can be more beneficial to keep an open perspective and find a different route to our destination.
We have to determine when something is no longer working. It doesn’t mean that we’ve made the wrong decision; it only means that there must be another way.
We have to be creative in this part of the process. Maybe the right tools are not available to us, so we have to craft them ourselves. Or, perhaps, we don’t have to follow the traditional course, so we can forge our own path.
Doing the same things over and over again without seeing results can also hinder our persistence. If we find fresh solutions, then it can also help ignite a newfound energy that will keep us going.
5. Don’t be afraid to start again
Starting again doesn’t mean that you have failed. While it may take you longer to get to where you want to be, it’s also an opportunity to identify your mistakes and, perhaps, go through the process much smoother the second time around.
Also, keep in mind that we all have our own time to shine. Maybe 2020 isn’t your year. But, what if it’s the next? You don’t have to quit altogether right now.
Perhaps, you just have to wait it out and start fresh with a more equipped version of you.
Our ability to keep going when the going gets tough is one of the things that makes us superhuman. We get to defy the odds, break our boundaries, and achieve something that elevates us into becoming the person that we’re meant to be.
But, we must not forget to be human throughout this process. It’s okay to take a break. It’s okay to admit that we were wrong. It’s okay to start over again. Only then can persistence make a difference in our lives that’s truly worthwhile.
Let me know in the comments below what you think!
Writer and counseling psychology student. Firm believer of validating one’s feelings, prioritizing the inner-self, and finding happiness in a plate of chicken curry.