Sometimes I’m struck by just how important perseverance is in life.
Sometimes, just holding on in there for a little bit longer can make all the difference between success and failure. Just look at the life of Chris Gardner, for example. Dirt broke. Didn’t give up. Ended up a multi-millionaire stock broker.
You’ve heard the tortoise and the hare fable and the saying “slow and steady wins the race.”
You’ve likely read tons of quotes about determination.
You know that when you feel like giving up your family or friends will be there saying “Keep on going. Keep Trying. Don’t give up. Never never never give up.” And they’re right.
Without perseverance we would never get through the hard times in life.
Yet we all face those time when life sucks, when you want to give up on your dreams, when you want to jack it in.
It’s at time like those we need to remember the importance of perseverance, and the fact that the people who succeed are the ones with the mental fortitude to keep going.
Many psychological studies have proven the importance of persistence in life.
In the essential psychological handbook Character Strengths and Virtues [AMAZON], persistence is defined as “voluntary action of a goal-directed action in spite of obstacles, difficulties or discouragement”.
Perseverance is considered one of the keys to a fulfilling and engaging life (a life in which we feel positively connected to the world.
Research in organizational development shows that persistence is one of the most important character strengths for success in entrepreneurship (Tojo Thatchenkery)
We needn’t be quite so technical with our definition of persistence. Rather let’s cite a famous old saying “Good things come to those who wait” but let’s change it somewhat.
People who put in the effort and commitment end up living valuable and meaningful lives.
While it is true that hard work does no pay off sometimes, perseverance offers it’s own psychological reward because it strengthens the mind.
Benefits of perseverance
- Makes us more trustworthy in people’s eyes
- Increases mental fortitude
- Increases sense of self worth to commit to a goal we believe in
- Heightens the chances of success
- Leads to new discoveries as we seek out alternative ways to succeed in our goals
- Increases creativity as the more we commit to a goal the more creatively we will seek its fulfilment
How to develop perseverance
Robert Eisenberger—professor in Psychology Department and in the Bauer School of Business at the University of Houston—tells THE DAILY MEDITATION that if a person is rewarded for sustained effort (perseverance) they will learn that perseverance is a good thing regardless of outcome.
Reward yourself for persistence whether your effort ends in success or failure because hard work is a good thing in itself.
For instance; let’s say you work really really hard towards an exam but you still don’t get the grade you want. Here you should reward yourself simply for trying because doing so will develop your persistence.
Psychologist Albert Bandura tells THE DAILY MEDITATION that people are more likely to have a high level of persistence when they believe in their ability to succeed in certain situations.
Develop self belief and confidence
Suzanne Segerstrom (Department of Psychology at theUniversityofKentucky) tells THE DAILY MEDITATION that people are more likely to persist when they believe that they can attain their goals. In other words; we’re more likely to persist if we are optimistic.
Think optimistically. To do so, use these positive thinking techniques.
Movies About Hard Work / Perseverance: The Pursuit of Happyness
The Pursuit of Happyness
The Pursuit of Happyness is the biographical book and film (starring Will Smith) about the life of Chris Gardner, who went from being homeless on the street to becoming a world leader in finance largely through the strength of his perseverance.
Chris Gardner is one hell of an inspiring guy. And The Pursuit of Happyness is an amazing film. It teaches us that hard work does pay off.
The 1997 science fiction film written and directed by Andrew Niccol and starring ethan Hawk, Uma Thurman and Jude Law tells the story of a world where potential children are selected through preimplantation genetic diagnosis in order to guarantee they inherit the best strengths of their parents. Created individuals in the movie are called Valids and natural (traditionally-born) people are terms “in-valids.” Where valids are given high jobs, invalids are given only menial jobs.
The characters in Gattaca fight their society and themselves to find their place in the world and in so doing provide great inspiration and motivation for hard work and perseverance.
Touching The Void
Okay, so not many people work as mountain climbers, but nevertheless Touching The Void is a fantastically inspirational film about hard work. It tells the true storry of two mountain climbers and their perilous journey up the west face of Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes in 1985. Touching The Void shows the battle between physical, psychological and spiritual anguish and hope, revealing how the deepest and strongest parts of our spirit can find the strength to persevere.
Other Movies About Hard Work & Perseverance
- My Left Foot
- It’s a wonderful Life
- Maria Full of Grace
How To Keep Going When You Feel Like Giving Up
Odds are you already know the goal that you want to be perseverant in, be it a personal goal like losing weight or a professional goal like completing a very lengthy project. With this goal in mind, try the following:
1) Visualise a successful outcome
In order to develop belief in your ability to complete a task successfully, try to frequently visualise your success.
Visually paint the scene of your success. Think about and visualise the following things: What you’ll think when you have succeeded; what you’ll see or hear (an external sign of your success); how things will be different after your success. Doing this will help you to believe that your success will become a reality.
2) Reward work for the sake of work
Any time you put a lot of effort into your work reward yourself even if the outcome is not what you wanted. For instance, let’s say you set the goal of losing 10lbs in a month, you worked really really hard on it but somehow you actually put on 2lbs instead of losing weight. Reward yourself for the hard work because that way you’ll be more likely to work hard in the future (because you will be training yourself to see a positive outcome from hard work itself.)
3 ) Face problems and be adaptive
Bring to mind any potential obstacle in your way and think of ways around those obstacles.
For instance, imagine you have a great job interview lined up but you just found out that you’ll be interviewed by a guy who knows you and who you haven’t gotten along with in the past.
You could think, “He won’t give mt the job”
Instead think, ” I can show him my strength of character by letting bygones be bygones and showing to him that we can actually get along.”
Note that it isn’t necessarily the realism of the plan that matters (cause yes, in all likely hood, your past with your interviewer would pay a part in this situation). What does matter is that you are training yourself to think that obstacles aren’t “Stop” signs and instead are opportunities to try something different and take a new route toward the same goal.
4) Stop saying “I can’t”
It’s one of the oldest mistakes in the book.
Mums have been telling us over and over again not to say “I can’t” but most of us still do. And yes, this is beating the point to death but make every single effort you can to be aware of the times you think you can’t do something and change negatives into positives.
I’ll give a little personal story here.
Back when I was uber positive I used to have a rule that every time I thought “I can’t” I would stop whatever I was doing and find 20 ways in which I could. Imagine how quickly I boosted my positivity.
And now you know the importance of perseverance in life, you know why like Churchill you can never, never, never give up.
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