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The 6 Secrets of Exceptional Persistence for Spectacular Achievement

Updated on February 23, 2019
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Pat Fonda writes on a wide range of topics, especially life hacks, relationships, and self help/personal development.

Perseverance in life (or persistence) is one of the most important things you can learn – or let’s say re-learn. Because, apparently, we are all born with it! If you stop to think about it, learning to talk and to walk are some of the toughest things in the world… and yet, you learned to talk, all those early setbacks notwithstanding. You learned to walk – falling, getting up, and trying again until you could do it effortlessly…

But somewhere along the road of life most of us unlearn persistence; meaning we learn to give up early, rather than continuing until we win.

Here’s how the dictionary defines perseverance: “Perseverance is persisting in a state, enterprise, or undertaking in spite of counterinfluences, opposition, or discouragement.”

According to Calvin Coolidge – in one of my favorite persistence/perseverance quotes – he suggests that persistence probably is the single most important key to success:

"Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race." ~ Calvin Coolidge

Another legend, Knute Rockne, is quoted to have said: “A team that won’t be beat, can’t be beat.” In other words that if you refuse to give up, despite what may come your way, you set the wheels of success irreversibly in motion. We only lose when we stop before reaching our goal – and sometimes when the goal is just around the corner…

“Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” ~ Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison, in case you don’t remember, is the guy who invented the light bulb… which he got to work just fine on the 10,000th try!

Persistence is what separates the winners from the losers. I’m sure you know people in your own life who you wouldn’t exactly describe as “talented” and yet they have achieved exceptional results because they persisted at whatever they tried until they got it right.

The dumbest person around (or even the laziest) but who keeps trying until he or she succeeds is a whole lot better off than the smartest person (or the most hard-working) who never finished what they started.

An old poem goes something like, “Stick to a task 'til it sticks to you; beginners are many, but enders are few. Honor, power, place and praise will come, in time, to the person who stays…”

The 6 Stumbling Blocks To Exceptional Persistence

If you’re like me and most other people who sometimes have trouble sticking to the task until the goal is reached, here’s the secret to persistence – look for weak spots in these 6 areas of your life:

Persistence Booster Number 1: Sort Out Your Motivations

Avoid mixed motivation at all costs! Check that you’re really committed to sticking to your goal, whatever it is. Sometimes it happens that one part of your mind wants something, but another part wants something else. Your conscious mind wants one thing, but the subconscious wants another.

This creates a conflict that’s guaranteed to drain your motivation and drive.

One leading cause of this sort of mixed motivation is self-esteem (or self-belief) issues. The positive side says "you can do it," and the negative side is saying "not in a million years!"

The best remedy to this is to tackle your self-limiting beliefs head-on. Replace your negative though patterns and self-talk with positive ones. The best way to eliminate a negative habit is by replacing it with a positive one.

Stop under-estimating what you can do… what you can achieve.

I used to watch Zootopia with one of my little kids some years ago (she still loves that cartoon!). One of the most remarkable scenes in the movie for me was the one where Judy the bunny – shortly after she was mauled by the fox following that ugly altercation where she rescued her friends’ tickets – bounces back, sticks out her chest, dons her imitation police cap, and goes: “He was right about one thing – I don’t know when to quit!” (She did eventually graduate top of her class at the police academy)…

And, oh, like that bunny, you’re brainy enough to overcome your setbacks – and any limiting beliefs you have!

Did you know you’re a creative genius? Oh, yes, you are! But you don’t have to take my word for it… two self-made millionaires have assured us so:

“Make a decision to believe that you are a creative genius. Visualize, emotionalize, and affirm. Visualize yourself as a creative person. Imagine how well you would feel if you were a creative person. Finally, make a habit of the affirmation: ‘I am a very creative person.’ If you believe you are creative, then you will behave in a manner consistent with being creative.” ~ Richard Dobbins and Barrie O. Pettman (In What Self-made Millionaires Really Think, Know & Do)

This means you have the creativity to beat the odds stacked up against you, whatever your goals are. If you don’t believe me – or the two self-made millionaires – then maybe you’ll agree with this play on one of Murphy’s Laws of Combat….

“Remember that your best weapon (your brain) was not made by the lowest bidder!”

Persistence Booster Number 2 – Setting Solid Clear-cut Goals

Here’s the thing: the fuzzier your goals are, the less likely you are to attain them! The more concrete and specific you can make your goals, the sharper and more attainable they become – and the more likely you are to stick to them.

Want to lose weight? Don't just say "I want to lose weight." Instead you should say, "I want to lose 15 pounds by July 31st."

If you want solid advice on how to not give up, then take this: Always do whatever it takes to set solid, clear-cut goals for yourself – because this can boost your ability to stick to them tenfold!

Persistence Booster Number 3 – Un-restrained Follow-through.

Normally the first steps toward any goal are some of the most important ones, but it is the following through that gets the job done – and where most of us fail! Most people have no trouble getting started on a goal or project and getting stuff done for a day. They may persist and get stuff done for a week. But by the time the end of the month comes around, they have started to lose track of their motivation – and the goal or project comes screeching to a halt!

It's not enough to get started – you have to keep going, no matter what obstacles lie in your path. When you suppress your follow-through, you suppress your results – meaning you’ll never quite attain the results that you wanted originally. You failed to get to the finishing line…

“When you get right down to the root of the meaning of the word ‘succeed,’ you find that it simply means to follow through.” ~ F.W. Nichol

When following through becomes a habit you’ll have learned how not to give up on life, or any of your success goals – an invaluable skill, I’m sure you’ll agree!

Persistence Booster Number 4: Keeping Your Eyes Glued To The Goal

How do you keep your goals top of mind? Do you verbally repeat your goal each day? Do you write it in your planner or your smartphone? Do you talk about it to others? Do you write it on the mirror or on a sticky note that you attached to your refrigerator or on your car’s dashboard – or your PC at home or at your workplace?

Jack Canfield, when he set a goal to make $1 million in the early years of his writing career, he had a “make-believe” 1-million-dollar bill printed, which he pinned up somewhere in plain sight in his home office! (You can get very realistic-looking copies online that you can print at home if you want to copycat this nifty trick!)

Keep your eyes on the goal, and you’ll find you have the persistence and “staying power” to reach your goals. When you learn how to persist, the sky is the limit!

Persistence Booster Number 5: Constantly Assessing Your Results

Someone said, “If you don't measure it, you won't achieve it."

When you measure your progress, you get to know if you’re sticking to your goal or not. Can you imagine anyone following through with a weight loss program if the first thing they did was throw out the bathroom scales?

If you don't do the weigh-in regularly and religiously, you wouldn’t know if you've lost weight! Sure, you could delude yourself all you want, one way or the other – but until your scale shows a gain or a loss, you have no way of knowing if you have stuck to your goal or not.

Now, with your other goals besides weight loss, it’s important to use the right standard and the right time-frame when assessing your results. So, for example, if you’re an athlete and you’re training to beat the 200 meters world record it probably wouldn’t do to measure yourself against that record every single day. A more realistic standard would be to train a week (or even a month) , and see how many seconds you’ve shaved off of it – or failed to shave – and then train some ( more likely a lot more) before measuring again. If you do it otherwise you might risk getting demotivated (and maybe depressed) by your expectations – which could be realistic or “unrealistic”…

Persistence Booster Number 6: Never Giving Up Too Soon

You've got to stick to the task until you see results – that’s what it means persisting. When you give up too soon, that’s the most damaging thing you can do, because the fallout is long-lasting and could impact all your other goals hence-forth.

I’m not sure if Murphy’s Laws of Combat have this one, but there’s always another ditch just ahead of “the last ditch”… and a lot of the time, it’s those “last-ditch” efforts that pay off.

In conclusion,

Now you have six secrets how to fix the weaknesses you may have that are eating away at your staying power – and what to do to not give up. Evaluate yourself regarding these weaknesses, realign your goals, measure and assess your progress, and we’ll see you when you cross the finishing line!

You too can achieve exceptional persistence, which is one of the primary prerequisites for spectacular achievement!

Video: Jack Canfield On Never Giving Up

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