The dictionary definition of persistence is, “firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.” In my opinion it is the single most important trait to bring success in any endeavor. It is also the one thing most people have difficulty keeping up through opposition. It is the ability to press on even when you feel like quitting.
Calvin Coolidge said, “Nothing in the 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.”
The first thing needed is a burning desire for any goal. If there is a perceived “life-or-death” difference between reaching the goal, or not, it will be easier to push yourself when you feel like quitting. Make sure the goal meets a strong reason to reach it.
When you work on any long-term goal your motivation will be up and down like the horses on the carousel ride. Sometimes you’ll feel motivated and sometimes you won’t. But motivation doesn’t produce results - only action produces results. Persistence is the personality trait that allows you to keep taking action even when you don’t feel motivated to do so, which brings results.
When persistence becomes habit it will ultimately provide its own motivation. If you simply keep taking action you’ll eventually get results - and results are usually very motivating. For example, you may become a lot more enthusiastic about dieting and exercising once you’ve lost those first 10 pounds and feel your clothes fitting more loosely. Sadly, most people stop just before they are about to get the results they seek.
Being consistently persistent is a skill anyone can develop. For those lucky people who learned it through great parenting and good educators at an early age, it’s almost like second nature to them - pushing through obstacles is seemingly easy for them. For those who did not have the blessing of early education for this trait I suggest using a tool called “autosuggestion”. This tool is a way for you to consciously tell your subconscious how to behave. Sentences repeated aloud multiple times each day that promote your ability to persist.
We need to replace a typical internal dialogue that consists of statements like, “This is too hard,” or “I don’t know how to do this” with other options. Writing and speaking specific wording, like, “I know I can do this if I keep at it,” or, “If I’m really stuck I can ask a friend or a colleague for help,” can begin to change the way you think and act when faced with a challenge.