"Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence." -Hal Borland
On your journey to achievement, you will encounter what most would term as failure—frustrating situations, deferred dreams, and people who disappoint. You may become disheartened and forget that success is usually one try beyond the last failure. A plan and the will to “Just do it" are not enough. How, then, do you persist when all seems lost? . The following seven disciplines can help you maintain interest, move you from being ‘stuck’, and energize you for the long haul. If you consistently observe these practices, neither fear nor failure will stop you from succeeding.
1. Be Still.
Your mind is a receiver as well as a projector. What comes from your mind, therefore, is a reflection of what goes in and how it’s interpreted. That’s why it’s important that only the best, most affirming ideas get any ‘airtime’. The most effective way keep your mind focused is to simply be still. This can be a challenge for many in this fast-paced, ‘rat-race society’. Start by taking 10 minutes a day to concentrate on nothing but being present in the moment. You’ll be surprised how quickly outside voices and influences will begin to fade. Your calm, uncluttered mind will much more easily focus on your goals and receive positive instruction.
2. Take a Break.
When you feel your anxiety and frustration rising, take a break. Trying to force the situation by working harder doesn’t work. Do something—anything—unconnected to your project. Better still, do something sustaining and uplifting. When you’re trying to get though a difficult period in your personal relationship for instance, stop focusing on the problem for a while. Do something mutually enjoyable, without the pressure of ‘working’ on the relationship. Challenged by a professional problem? Spend some time doing something enjoyable and noncompetitive, like spending time with friends or family. The shift in energy will recharge you.
3. Embrace the long view.
Remember the naïve persistence of a child. Through trial and error, they learn more in five years than many will learn in a lifetime. To an adult eye, they fail and fail and fail again. Because they ‘don’t know any better’ they enjoy the journey, making new paths as they go along. Sure there are tears, but it is their laughter that echoes most loudly. The child, you see, believes that she has all the time in the world. The years stretch beyond her horizon, an unending stream of opportunity. The eternity before a child makes failure small in relief. If you embrace the long view, you can appreciate the journey while the horizon of your goals puts your setbacks in perspective.
4. Keep doing what you’ve been doing. "Fall seven times, stand up eight." -Japanese Proverb
Most things take time. Ask yourself, “Am I giving the process enough time?” Consider the farmer. In order to reap the harvest, he must have several things in place. First, he must have the right seeds. Then he must plant them in the right kind of soil. All of this has to be done at the right time. Then, for what seems like forever, the farmer must water, weed, and nurture seeds that he can no longer see. How foolish it would be for the farmer to be upset that the seeds haven’t produced harvest a week after planting. So too is it folly to rush your goals.
The next time you’re stuck or frustrated, ask yourself if you have planted the right seeds. Have you planted them in the right place? Are you doing the right things to allow them to grow? If so, you should be confident and encouraged. Keep doing what you’ve been doing. Your harvest is coming. Sometimes though, we’re stuck because one of the above criteria is out of line. When this happens—and it will happen—take a moment to consider your goal. If it’s truly what you want, and what you’re doing really isn’t working then…
5. Change your approach.
People sometimes fall in love with their plans and forget their goals. Be willing to change your approach, direction or methods of accomplishing your goals. Commit only to that which works. Many people in the creative community will tell you that they often start with a great story or melody. Somewhere in the creative process a new direction will emerge. The most skilled artists remain open to new ideas and directions, incorporating them into their vision. What appears often looks nothing like the original idea, yet it’s still fulfills the larger vision of its creator.
6. Ask for help.
You can only explore new perspectives by stepping away from your own point of view. The best way to do this is to ask others for input and ideas. We often forget that others are here to help us on our journeys. If you haven’t done so already, identify those people in your life who can offer support, perspective, resources, and advice. Keep them always “on call”. It’s important though, to know with whom you can share your goals. When you’re at a stuck point, ask for help. Ask specifically, ask expectantly. Ask gratefully. Remember too, that part of your path in this life is to be a help and a light for others. Share freely anything that can help another. It returns to you.
7. Tap into Faith.
Faith is an unstoppable force that makes you unstoppable when you apply it. Some condemn Faith as a type of denial. It is. Faith is the steadfast denial that you can fail. Faith requires no evidence, precedents or confirmation. When you start your endeavors with the belief that you will accomplish them and persist in doing all the things to realize them, you have already succeeded. It is Faith that allows you to act as if your belief has already manifested. What the mind can clearly conceive and strongly believe, it will certainly achieve.
"A black belt is a white belt that didn't quit"-Anonymous
Use the seven persistence practices to create a “persistence routine”. Commit to committing as you start realizing your ambitions. See what you want. Believe it. Work for it. Believe some more. This is how you persist. This is how you succeed.