Perseverance is a funny thing. Often times we think we’ve done all we can and we just can’t do anymore. And sometimes that may be true. As a person who firmly believes that there’s a fine line between pressing on and quitting – albeit quitting with a higher purpose in mind (and there are times when it’s truly a good thing to Be a Quitter as I blogged about here), I have to remind myself that sticking with something can be a blessing. The trick is to recognize that blessing and understand that the situation in front of us doesn’t represent the end of the road but the choice to carry on, in a new direction.
Perseverance is not, to quote Einstein, insanity; it is not doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. It’s understanding why we’re putting forth all that effort and how when one path is blocked, we can create another one that will lead us to our end goal, even when that path isn’t visible to us right now. Which is frustrating and irritating, because we can’t see / feel / understand what we’re supposed to be doing, which of course makes us REALLY want to throw up our hands and walk away.
So, whenever I find myself in a situation where I feel like I just want to chuck it all and give up, I ask myself the following:
What am I truly trying to accomplish and why?
Many times we get hung up on living in the Minutia of the Moment without taking the time to pull back and figure out a)why what we’re doing is important and b)how this one thing fits into a greater whole. If you’re hung up on one thing, ask yourself if what you’re doing is really critical, and why you’re doing it the way you are. Is this something that’s “always been done this way” or “it’s the path of least resistance?”
Will this matter to me when I’m 80?
Ever heard of that saying “pick your battles?” Well this is one of the smell tests I give situation when I really really want to throw in the towel. If what I’m doing has deep meaning to me then yes, I’ll be willing to expend a lot more effort trying to figure out how to work it out, but otherwise, it may not be worth the struggle…which is to say that I may have to persevere in a different way – such as letting go of something (which may feel like giving up but will actually be beneficial AND relates to question 1) in order to honor my greater “why.” This allows me to spend my time and energy on things that will reward me most as I go through life.
What other paths can I take to reach the same destination?
To quote Einstein again:
We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
Perseverance is not only rising again in the face of challenge but is also rising in a new way, with new thinking, and fresh eyes. Take time to discuss the issue with a trusted friend. Think about what you’ve told yourself about your situation and whether or not you need to change your thinking or approach. Finally, consider the destination. Go back to question 1 that talks about what and why. Try not to censor yourself and write down all your ideas (and also ideas from others who may try to help you along the way) on how you can “get there” in ways that most honors your inner “why.”
Perseverance is a value, one that is more important to some more than others. So the next time you find yourself wanting to give up, allow yourself to think about how you can persevere in new ways and reach your ultimate goal.