Do you – persist, continue, keep going, not give up, struggle on, hammer away, be persistent, be determined, see/follow something through, keep at it, show determination, not take no for an answer, be tenacious, be pertinacious, be patient, stand one’s ground, stand fast/firm, hold on, hold out, go the distance, grind away, stop at nothing, leave no stone unturned, to get something done?
Do the above-mentioned words describe YOU when you have a goal in mind or want to finish a task? Do you have struggles or ease with your health, success, body, weight, money, children, family, relationship, or work? In general, some areas in life people have a lot of persistence and other areas, not so much. Where is it you may require some extra help in persistence to achieve that beloved goal or state? Learn in this newsletter 5 simple exercises, you can adopt to have more ease in building persistence in your life.
Persistence is defined as “voluntary continuation of a goal-directed action in spite of obstacles, difficulties, or discouragement” (Peterson & Seligman, 2004, p.229). Continuing to perform something that is fun and rewarding in itself does not entail persistence, though there may be some pleasure at the completion of the demanding task that is marked by persistence.
In general people with higher self-esteem are more likely to persist on a difficult task than people with lower self-esteem. If you believe you are a competent person with a good chance of succeeding at most things, you are less likely to quit. (Starnes & Zinser, 1983; Frankel & Snyder, 1978).
When individuals have been rewarded in the past for effort (sticking with a task), they are more likely to persist in a future task-even if that future task is not directly related to the first (Eisenberger, 1992; Eisenberger & Selbst, 1994).
People who perform tasks for money, prizes, or awards tend to lose interest in performing a task for its own sake (Deci, 1971; Harackiewicz, 1979; Lepper, Greene, & Nisbett, 1973). If the reward becomes unavailable, then persistence drops off sharply. In contrast, persistence is encouraged when a reward conveys positive feedback about competence and increases the internal motivation for doing the task.
Achieving success also requires persistence. The first step to achieving success is to decide exactly what we want. If we are not totally clear about what we actually want it is impossible to make plans and use persistence to achieve it.
It is also vital to know WHY we want whatever it is we want because it’s our ‘whys’ that determine the strength of our desire, and our ultimate success in achieving our goals. Without a big enough ‘why’ our chances of success in reaching any goal are greatly reduced.
“Interesting isn’t it. The goal/reward can make a big difference, but really understanding your why is the most important part. Think about your why, when you next set off to achieve a task.
Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence” – Colin Powell
Where in your life, are you not achieving a goal or task? Write it down on a piece of paper, then use these 5 simple exercises that Jonathan Haidt, a psychologist at the University of Virginia put together to help build persistence to succeed in achieving your goal or task:
- Finish a project ahead of time.
- Notice your thoughts about stopping a task, and make a conscious effort to dismiss them. Focus on the task at hand.
- Begin using a time management aid of some sort (a daily/weekly/monthly planner, etc.). Find a system that works and actually use it.
- Set a goal and create a plan for sticking to it.
- When you wake up in the morning, make a list of things that you want to get done that day that could be put off until the next day. Make sure to get them done that day.