It’s okay, we all give up too easily sometimes. You are not alone! It doesn’t matter if it was weight loss, living by a budget, learning to play a musical instrument, blogging regularly, spending time with the kids, learning Spanish, or any one of your New Year’s Resolutions, giving up too easily is a common human condition. If you’re like me, you look back and wonder what was wrong with you. I know I ask myself repeatedly, “Why did I give up so easily?”
Why is persistence so difficult to develop?
I’ve prided myself in the past for my determination and will-power, but if I’m honest, MY determination and will-power were supplemented by a support structure, most notably from my wife and family.
“In other words, how bad do you want it? And how far are you willing to go to get it? Unless the answer is all the way, you will not persist. You will give up.” –Napoleon Hill
Willingness to stay the course certainly plays an important part in persistence but why have you and I been unwilling in the past?
1. A purposeless existence. If we don’t know, really, really know what we want out of our lives, there isn’t a reason to persevere with a task, especially in the face of hardship.
2. Too much reliance on others. Other people won’t develop persistence inside of you – they can’t. They’re too busy with their own struggles to have to pull you up too.
3. Disorganized plans. Clutter and disorganization demotivate. Even if your plans are practical and strong, if they’re disorganized you won’t persevere.
4. Guessing about the outcome. Even “educated” guesses are less valuable than experience or observation. When we guess about how our plans will turn out, we aren’t motivated. I know I’m not.
5. Lack of desire. You’ll quit almost anything if you don’t desire it anymore. I quit piano lessons because I just didn’t care anymore – football was more important as was almost anything else. I did teach myself to play the guitar later, but that was because I wanted to learn it. Girls liked guitar players, not the classical piano geeks.
6. Uncooperative colleagues. Without empathy, understanding, “synergism,” and cooperation, your enterprise is destined for failure. Quitting will be the symptom that shows up.
7. Too many commitments. Followed by performing the task very poorly. Some people quit because continuing on means damage to their reputation because they cannot put the task in a higher priority category.
8. A habit of quitting. Persistence is a habit. Quitting is a habit. Some people have developed a habit for one or the other and that can be a factor in their persistence.
9. Not enough resistance. Sounds counterintuitive but (maybe it’s a personality flaw?), tell me I *CAN’T* do something and you better watch out. I once had a boss that told me I shouldn’t get an MBA and all that did was spur me on. I finished the program early and graduated with honors just so I could hang that diploma in my office.
10. A negative outlook. There have been times in my past that I was more than willing to concentrate my thoughts on negative and discouraging influences – and wouldn’t you know it – I quit those activities.
How to develop persistence
- Decide your purpose and back it with a burning desire.
- Create an organized, well thought out plan based on experience or observation (yours or someone you admire and trust).
- List the benefits of accomplishing your plan. Use the most detail possible.
- Ally yourself with positive people who will encourage you to follow through with your plans and your purpose.
- Seal your thought processes against negative thoughts and against anyone who would discourage you.
You can change. You’ve been changing and developing yourself your entire life. Persistence will change your life – for the better.