When I look at many successful people in life, be they successful on the grand stage or in their private lives, whether they run a multi-million-pound business or they have the happiest and most wholesome marriage, one thing that they seem to have in common is this: they never give up.
This is a big life lesson that I’m learning right now. If you want something, if you dream of something, if you have a vision, a goal, if you have a challenge to get through, a dark period to traverse, you simply cannot give up.
I know it sounds so cliché. It always sounded that way to me, too. But, now I’m realising in practice just how important it is. As a life skill, a key element of resilience and a denominator of success, happiness and wellbeing.
When things get tough, you may have to drag yourself along with your last iota of strength to take just one… more… step. To get out of bed for just one… more… day. To work for just one… more… hour. This is the totally unglamorous and often painful side of success in many areas of life. You just have to keep going.
There’s also something about our ability to push ourselves further than our minds had previously decided we could go. It’s almost a ‘proving oneself wrong’, ‘surprising oneself’ and delighting in the discovery that you have more courage and resilience than you thought you did. It makes you realise how the mind and body can trick you into thinking that you’re done, when in fact, you still have a lot more in you.
If you want to cultivate perseverance, here are 3 of my top tips for you:
1. Focus on the step in front of you
Just the next step, that’s all.
Now, the size of that step depends on how down and out you feel. If you’re really struggling, if you’re gravely sick, in extreme depression, intense fear and worry, if your bank account is empty, if your life is falling apart inside and out – then the window through which you must look, will be very small.
It may literally be the next second, the next minute, the next breath. The next bite of food, the next foot forward. That’s all. The tiniest amount of time and/or action is what you want to focus on to move forward, to keep going, to not give up in times of deep struggle.
If you are not doing too terribly but are still struggling, you might be able to think and act a little more broadly. You may focus on the next week or month, the next step may be a whole new project rather than just one task. But whatever it is, make sure it is the next step, not the next 50. Laser focus is key here, put all your energy into that next step only.
And once that’s done, you go on to the next one. Perseverance and not giving up is not some grand, superhuman act, it’s simply a series of baby steps that you just keep taking.
2. Be willing to fail
And know that it will hurt, at first.
This is a key skill when it comes to perseverance. Some days you just don’t do that well, mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually and externally. Some days, the puzzle pieces aren’t fitting. Sometimes, things just go wrong. Bad news comes, you tried something and it didn’t work or, you just can’t seem to find your mojo. You may shake your fist at the sky and say: ‘Why me?!’.
Well, I don’t know ‘why you’. But, if it makes you feel any better, it happens to me too! Understanding this really helps me to keep going during difficult times. I am learning not to take failures personally. If I take it personally, it hits deeper and harder. It becomes a heavier burden to carry which wards me off from trying again. And thus, makes me more likely to give up.
If we can see things objectively and realise that there are many people suffering similar things, we can depersonalise it. We can then conserve our energy and use it to move forward, rather than wasting it trying to process all this personalised pain.
I also find that the more I learn to handle failures, the easier they are to get through the next time round. I use my personal development tools to help me through and I take the lessons from each stumble. Then when the next similar failure comes along, I’m able to move through it much more swiftly because I have experience and practise. What used to hold me down for a week or month, now only lasts a day or two. What used to floor me, now just tickles me a bit. And so, it is much easier for me to keep on going.
3. Be willing to learn and grow
The reason many people give up too soon is that sadly, they’re not willing to learn and grow. When they fail, they think they did all they could, they did it correctly and that’s that. They do not need to change. It’s the world out there that has the problem. And maybe it’s just not meant to be so, they may as well give up.
The reality is that growth and change are critical to success. We can’t stay just as we are. We have to adapt and evolve, internally and externally, in all areas of life. We’ve got to be flexible, we’ve got to try new things, break out of old habits and patterns, experiment, get out of our comfort zones and so on – until we reach our goals. Not giving up doesn’t mean just doing the same thing over and over until it works. It means doing different things, new things until it works. If you’re not willing to change and try those new things, you will inevitably give up far too soon.
I hope this has given you some ideas on how you can keep going, especially during times of struggle. I should close with one important note – sometimes we DO need to give up! We may be walking down the wrong path, doing the wrong thing or holding on to something that simply isn’t going to work. In those cases, we must be wise and know that it is time to give up. Don’t forget that. It’s really important. But also, don’t use it as an excuse to stop persevering with things that are right for you, but just happen to be very difficult! In those cases, I revert to my original message: don’t give, up!
Read more about Pinky Jangra and her other articles HERE
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