Persistence is probably more important for achieving success than you think.
Getting Back On The Horse
Many people, including myself, will testify to the benefits of consistency in the pursuit of success.
If you keep showing up and doing the work, then you will eventually become good at it. If you keep putting in the hours – applying yourself in focused practice – it’s almost inevitable that you will achieve at least some success in your field.
Being consistent is much easier once you have built some momentum. When you have gotten into the habit of consistently working out three times a week, for example, it’s easier to continue to work out three times every week. The ‘auto-pilot’ kicks in.
But life often has a way of throwing a wrench into the works.
You will ‘fall off the horse’, many times:
You'll go on holidays
You'll have fun events planned
You'll be sick or injured some days
You'll have other important commitments
You’ll 'break your streak'. That's just life.
Persistence is how you get back on the horse. Persistence is about not letting a (temporary) lack of consistency stop you from continuing your pursuit. It’s about restoring a beneficial (but hard) habit that was left to rust for a while.
If you stop doing a difficult habit, it's very simple for an easy habit to swoop in and replace it.
That's when you need to be persistent. If you miss a week or two (or three) of working out, for example, accept that loss and move on. Start right back up again.
It's very easy to think: 'I missed three weeks of practice now, what's the point in continuing?' But that’s a complete fallacy. That’s the easy habit trying to sneak back in.
You lost three weeks – but so what? That's not going to matter in the slightest when you look back after 300 weeks of practice and admire your impressive progress.
💡 Sir David Attenborough describes how the San bushmen use persistence hunting to chase down a kudu. Persistently chasing the prey, despite setbacks, until it collapses of exhaustion is a (slightly dark) metaphor for chasing your goals. Keep at it, stick to it, until your own kudu gives up and gives you what you want.
The only way to get to that point, though, is to get back on the horse.
Continuing your course of action despite difficulty is the result of training yourself to do something in a controlled and habitual way. A lot of that is in the way you think.
Shifting your default mindset from ‘this is a devastating setback’ to ‘this is just another bump (of many) in the road’ will help.
Another way of defaulting to persistence, is to visually remind yourself regularly of what you want to be doing.
If the first thing you see when you wake up in the morning is the workout outfit you prepared the night before, it becomes easier to work out. The outfit is there and ready to go, and it’s easy to choose to put it on and go outside for a run, for example.
If the first thing you see when you go into the kitchen is your vitamins, then it’s easier to remember to take your vitamins.
And so on.
Fostering good habits makes it easier to be persistent, which makes it easier to be consistent, which in turn makes it easier to achieve your goals successfully.
I hope you found this article useful. For more productivity tips, see Productivity.