We hear many inspiring stories of people who have overcome huge obstacles through persistence - but sometimes our own challenges just seem insurmountable and we feel like giving up.
This week I want to share some things that I have learned in the last few weeks about persistence and why it counts….
Over the last month I have been hard at work trying to make something happen in my professional life. It seemed that I was getting nowhere, despite all my efforts. It felt as if I was using all my energy to try to move a huge boulder and that it was not budging – not even 1mm. And guess what, the boulder seemed to get bigger and bigger, and as I pushed and pushed I felt my energy and motivation draining away…..
Now, fortunately, the boulder seems to be moving – maybe not as fast as I would like it, but I’m definitely seeing progress. So I thought I would share with you what have I learned from this experience
- Re-check your strategy – is it the right one?
Look at what you are trying to achieve – where are the challenges and obstacles? Is your strategy and action plan actually targeting these? If you’re looking for a new job, a promotion or more recognition, put yourself in the shoes of your (future) employer and think about what is important to them, not just what you are wanting. If you want to increase your revenue then look at exactly where your challenge is in the sales cycle and what you need to do to address it. If you want better relationships then think about what time and energy you are giving to the various relationships in your life and how you want to be in your interactions with your family, friends and colleagues.
- Look at the actions you are taking.
Often we can get bogged down in doing lots of actions, rather than doing the ones that are going to make a difference. Take some time to sit back and think about what is working, and what is not working. Be honest with yourself – what motivates you, what saps your energy? Tap into your own strengths and tailor your actions accordingly. Think about what things you enjoy, that are working, and do more of them. Think about what actions you loath and think about how you can bring a different energy to them by shifting perspective, or outsource them, balance them with things you like, or even just drop them and replace them with something that does work for you.
And remember small shifts can have a big impact.
- Ask for advice, help and support
Do you know anyone who has succeeded in what you want to do – ask them for advice or mentoring.
I’m not particularly good at asking for help or support – it was definitely not easy for me to ask my friends to help me. I know that they are all busy and have their own priorities. I’m learning to ask for help, but also learning to check my expectations at the door, to value what help I do receive and not make judgements about what doesn’t happen.
- Give yourself permission to take time out
Do the things that energise you – whether that is walking in the woods, spending time with friends and family or quietly reading something inspirational. I personally find that I can get so caught up in my tasks that I don’t do the things that I need to do to keep me happy and healthy. Once I stop and smell the roses, or in my case a good coffee, I find that I have new energy and creativity to bring to what I want to achieve – I gain new insights and can be much more effective – because I am working smarter not harder.
- Be patient
For me it took time before my efforts started to pay off. Check your timeline – is it realistic?
And recognise that sometimes it seems as if all the buses arrive at the same time after you’ve been waiting for ages.
- Remind yourself of your goal
When you’re feeling bogged down remember that it all starts with why – check in with the purpose, cause, or belief that inspires you to do what you are doing. What is your objective? How will you feel when you reach it? What difference will it make to you, to your family, friends, colleagues, the world?
- Be persistent
And when all else fails, keep going. Remember Einstein said, “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”
The last thing I learned is also very important for me - that it is valuable to actually think about what I am learning and have learned in each experience – good or bad. In the above experience I saw a lot of my old and familiar demons come out to play. By being mindful about what I was experiencing and curious about how it was playing out in my head, I found that I could take a step back and choose how I responded - rather than just reacting, I was able to make more powerful choices. So I was able to turn a frustrating and demoralising experience into an opportunity for learning and empowerment.
This is the view of the sunrise from Mt Sinai.
I had damaged my knee badly and for a couple of years I could not climb stairs without pain, running was not possible.
I was finally referred to a specialist who helped me by working on the cause of my problem not the symptoms. I started a regular exercise regime to target specific muscles.
6 months later I walked to the top of Mt Sinai.
PS if you’d like to talk to me about how you can be happier and lead a more fulfilling life