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Self Improvement: The Importance of Persistence

No matter what you do in your life, there will be times when things don’t go according to plan, times when everything seems to be working against you and times when you fail.

At moments like these you feel like giving up, and may even suffer from a reduced sense of confidence and self-esteem that makes you feel bad about yourself. The easy thing to do during such times is to quit what we are doing and move on to something else. Something that’s easier or distracts us from our previous task.

This is exactly what the large majority of people in our society do, because it is a natural human tendency to do the things that are fun and easy over those that are hard and necessary.

young man playing video game

Doing things that are fun and easy often comes at the expense of long-term failure in life.

Unfortunately, however, this often leads to long-term failure in life, because those who quit whenever they experience failures or problems will never stick with something of real significance long enough to truly benefit from it.

But those who are able to keep going through periods of adversity, stand a much better chance of achieving something of real meaning and value in their life.

confident man business suit

Persistence makes it much more likely that you will achieve your hopes and dreams.

Steve Jobs from Apple provides an excellent example of this last point. He had been with Apple for many decades, and was a key figure in helping to make Apple one of the most successful and popular companies on the planet.

Despite suffering from ill-health, Steve Jobs continued to work at Apple when he could have very easily quit due to his illness. This is exactly what persistence is, knowing what you want and then going after it with everything you’ve got until you get it.

Steve Jobs

Although Steve Jobs faced many challenging situations during his life, he kept on moving forward when it would have been so easy for him to quit.

Just like Steve Jobs, if you want to achieve real success in your life you must be willing to stick with something for the long-term and avoid the tendency to view things from a short-term perspective.

Most people who fail in life, for example, expect to become successful quickly and with minimal effort. Whilst this may happen for some people, the majority of us will have to work very hard and for many hours before we are able to accomplish what we set out to do.

hard work

You may have to work very hard to achieve some of your goals.

This is the true reality of success. Hard work and long hours. Only a small minority of people, however, will be willing to do these two things long enough for them to achieve their goals.

And this is exactly why there are so many more unsuccessful people in our society than there are successful people. Those who are successful, persist. Those who are not, don’t.

What I’ve Learned About Persistence

One of the most important lessons that I have learned in life, is that no matter how bad something seems there is invariably something positive that can be taken from a negative experience.

There have been many times in my life, for example, when something happened to me that was uncomfortable or painful to deal with, but looking back on that event months or even years later, I realized that it made me a stronger and better person.

black cloud over head

No matter how bad something seems there’s always good that can come from it.

Of course, no one likes to experience difficulties or misfortunes in their life, but the fact is that these things will happen to you at some point or another. You can therefore either choose to give up when the going gets tough, or persist until you achieve your aims and objectives.

Very often you will find that if you do persist through difficult times, you will learn something that helps you to progress even further than you could before.

As a result, I now view failures in my life not as failures, but as valuable learning experiences that I can use to better and improve myself with.

learning from mistakes

Failure is just another lesson that you can learn from to grow and develop as a person.

Another very interesting thing that I have observed, is that my greatest successes have often come after my greatest failures. It’s almost like there is some kind of mystical force in the universe that is testing me to see how much I really want something.

Even though it may seem hopeless at the time, eventually, by working long enough, I have almost always been able to complete what I set out to do.

kitten hanging from branch

It may seem hopeless at times, but if you hang on long enough you will pull yourself back up again.

If you can adopt this mentality of trying to see the good in every situation, you will find it a lot easier to develop the skill of self persistence. You will also find that when things don’t go your way, you will be able to cope much better with it emotionally.

This is important as one of the biggest destroyers of persistence are the feelings of self-doubt and depression. These negative emotions can zap your motivation, essentially draining you of the energy that you require to do something.

So the next time that a bad event happens to you, take some time to think about how you could possibly benefit from it. Ask yourself, what lesson can I learn from this experience? How is this going to make me a better person?


You may not always be able to come up with an answer immediately because if a particular experience has resulted in a strong emotional reaction such as anger, sadness or despair, the emotions that you are feeling will interfere with your ability to think logically and rationally.

But given enough time, you will eventually be able to find some good from a situation no matter how bad what happened to you was.

Your Personal Growth

Persistence is a very important trait to develop in life because it is intimately interlinked with ones own personal development and self-improvement. You will only get better in life by failing at things, learning from those experiences and moving on.

In order to do this, however, you must also have the persistence or determination to keep on going and to not give up.

Without persistence, your ability to grow and develop as a person will be severely restricted, and so will be the amount of success, wealth and happiness that you will be able to achieve.


It is important to note though, that persistence doesn’t mean that you should never change the course or direction of your life.

If, for example, you have put all that you possibly could into a project which you were working on, but then decide that you no longer want to work on that project, then moving on to something else doesn’t make you a failure or a quitter.

life choices

Sometimes you need to change the direction your life is going in.

The experiences we have in life ultimately shape the type of person that we become. As a result, sometimes you will find that what you thought you wanted in the past isn’t what you want now.

So be prepared to work for what you want, but don’t be afraid to try something different if you feel that your time and effort would be better spent elsewhere.

How To Be A More Persistent Person

Below are listed some of the things that you can do to become a more persistent person and not give up so easily when things don’t go your way.

1) Think Long Term

woman walking down road

The journey could be a long and tiresome one. Are you prepared to go as far as it takes to reach your goal?

Recognize that things of value will probably take you a lot of time and effort to achieve.

If you hope to get rich quick or become an overnight success, you will quickly become discouraged when things get difficult and so will probably give up easily as result.

Have patience, and know that if you work long enough you will probably get what you want.

2) Set Goals


Goals give your life direction and purpose.

Having goals focuses your mind on what you want to achieve. Get into the habit of goal setting and set yourself both short and long-term goals to break down your main goal into a series of smaller and more manageable chunks.

Remember, there is no one step that does it, it’s a lot of little steps that will do it. When you complete a goal, give yourself a reward for its completion as this will help to further motivate you to achieve future goals.

3) Learn And Be Positive

think positive

We become what we think about most of the time.

You can learn from anything that happens to you in life, regardless of whether it was a good or bad thing that happened to you. Use what you learn to improve yourself so that you become a stronger, more experienced and wiser person.

4) Read Books

woman reading book

Read and you shall succeed.

One way to motivate yourself through periods of difficulty, is to read books about people who have gone through difficult times in their life but eventually became successful at what they were doing.

This might involve reading biographies of people who you admire, or books such as “How I Made It: 40 Successful Entrepreneurs Reveal How They Made Millions” which include a variety of real life stories.

5) Pay The Price

Brian Tracy

Brian Tracy, one of the most influential people in my life.

Brain Tracy, a personal development author and speaker, once said that in order to achieve success you must be willing to pay the price up front and in full before you get it.

This means that if you really want something in life, you will have to make some sacrifices in order to get it.

Usually, this will involve choosing how you manage your time, such as whether you want to spend your time watching TV or working on your business instead.

6) Visualize What You Want

people meditating

Believe it and you shall achieve it.

Mentally imagine or picture the thing it is that you would like to achieve. Think about how good it would be to have or accomplish it, the way it would make feel and the benefit you will gain from it.

Do this before you fall asleep at night and you will help to program that image into your subconscious mind, which will then motivate you to keep on working towards the realization of your dream or ambition during the day.

7) Watch Your Negative Emotions

worried face

Emotions have a powerful influence on human behavior.

Negative emotions cause you to respond to things using the emotional or middle part of your brain. This region of the brain tends to result in irrational thinking which subsequently leads to poor decision-making.

See also: Overcome Negative Thoughts (opens in new tab)

If you find yourself becoming overly emotional about something, do not make any important decisions in this frame of mind because the decisions which you make will most likely not be the correct or best decisions.

8) Adapt To Change

people looking at map

Things don’t always go according to plan, so sometimes you have to find a new way to reach your destination.

Even though you may have a clearly laid out plan for the accomplishment of your aims and objectives, very rarely will you find that you are able to follow your plan exactly.

Things will change and be different from how you expected them to be, and so you need to be flexible enough to adapt to this change if you are to see your plan through to completion.

The most common barrier or obstacle that you are likely to come across in this regard, is not being able to do something the way you thought it could be done. Be aware of this, and be willing to look for alternative approaches.


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Reviewed – 26th March 2016

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