When you realise the importance of perseverance in life you’ll know why you have to keep going no matter how hard things might seem at times.
You’ve heard the tortoise and the hare fable and the saying “slow and steady wins the race.” You’ve likely read quotes about determination time and time again and you know that when you feel like giving up your family or friends will be there saying “Keep on going. Keep Trying. Don’t give up. Never never never give up.” And they’re right.
It is vital to understand the importance of perseverance in life.
Yet still you can’t help but be tempted to pack it all in when you get bad news or a setback. It’s at times like these you think “What’s the point? Why should I keep on going? I quit.” It’s at times like these you’d do well to remind yourself of the importance of persistence, one of the most valuable strengths a person can possess.
So what’s the deal? What’s the importance of perseverance in life anyway?
Many psychological studies show the importance of persistence in
life. In Character Strengths and Virtues (a psychological text book that is the beginning of the positive psychology movement) persistence is defined as “voluntary action of a goal-directed action in spite of obstacles, difficulties or discouragement” and is considered to be one of the keys to a fulfilling and engaging life (a life in which we feel positively connected to the world. For more on this see psychology online text book The Journal of Positive Psychology).
Research in organizational development shows that persistence is one of the most important character strengths for success in entrepreneurship (Tojo Thatchenkery)
We needn’t be quite so technical with our definition of persistence. Rather let’s site a famous old saying “Good things come to those who wait” but let’s change it somewhat.
Good things come to those who persist, those who seek with effort and commitment a meaningful and valuable goal.
To put it simply. The importance of perseverance in life is that if you don’t persevere you will probably never be successful.
Great. If we push on through the hurdles and fight our way up the mountain we will be led to reward.
That still doesn’t help us actually develop the quality of persistence though. What can we do to make persistence more than a dictionary definition, to make persistence a reality? Well, thankfully psychological research by clever folk at universities has revealed some valuable dos and don’ts that can guide our way to a high level of persistence.
So we now know the importance of perseverance in life. But how do you develop perseverance?
If you want to have perseverance, you need to know how to be a tough person. Here’s how.
Robert Eisenberger—professor in Psychology Department and in the Bauer School of Business at the University of Houston—tells us that if a person is rewarded for sustained effort (perseverance) they will learn that perseverance is a good thing regardless of outcome. So. . .
Reward yourself for persistence whether your effort ends in success or failure because hard work is a good thing in itself.
For instance; let’s say you work really really hard towards an exam but you still don’t get the grade you want. Here you should reward yourself simply for trying because doing so will develop your persistence.
Psychologist Albert Bandura tells us that people are more likely to have a high level of persistence when they believe in their ability to succeed in certain situations. So. . .
Develop self belief
Suzanne Segerstrom (Department of Psychology at theUniversityofKentucky) tells us that people are more likely to persist when they believe that they can attain their goals. In other words; we’re more likely to persist if we are optimistic. So, simply. . .
With this we have the three keys to persistence: Self belief, optimism and learned industriousness.
Having already covered the importance of perseverance in life as pertains to relationships, let’s look at perseverance at work.
We all go to work. Most of us put in long hours. Most of us have to work our way up the career ladder. You need perseverance to succeed at work. But what if you just straight up can’t be bothered?
It’s when you’re feeling lazy, when you’re lacking perseverance, that you need some inspiration. That when I personally like to turn to one of my favorite pastimes: the movies.
Movies About Hard Work / Perseverance: The Pursuit of Happyness
The Pursuit of Happyness is the biographical book and film (starring Will Smith) about the life of Chris Gardner, who went from being homeless on the street to becoming a world leader in finance largely through the strength of his perseverance.
Chris Gardner is one hell of an inspiring guy. And The Pursuit of Happyness is an amazing film. It’s guaranteed to reassure any viewer that hard work does pay off and is the absolute best movie to watch whenever you’re thinking of packing it all in.
The 1997 science fiction film written and directed by Andrew Niccol and starring ethan Hawk, Uma Thurman and Jude Law tells the story of a world where potential children are selected through preimplantation genetic diagnosis in order to guarantee they inherit the best strengths of their parents. Created individuals in the movie are called Valids and natural (traditionally-born) people are terms “in-valids.” Where valids are given high jobs, invalids are given only menial jobs.
The characters in Gattaca fight their society and themselves to find their place in the world and in so doing provide great inspiration and motivation for hard work and perseverance.
Touching The Void
Okay, so not many people work as mountain climbers, but nevertheless Touching The Void is a fantastically inspirational film about hard work. It tells the true storry of two mountain climbers and their perilous journey up the west face of Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes in 1985. Touching The Void shows the battle between physical, psychological and spiritual anguish and hope, revealing how the deepest and strongest parts of our spirit can find the strength to persevere.
Other Movies About Hard Work & Perseverance
My Left Foot
It’s a wonderful Life
Maria Full of Grace
We’ve covered the psychology of perseverance and have watched some fantastic movies about perseverance in relationships, perseverance in health and fitness and perseverance at work and elsewhere. We’re feeling inspired and motivated and all we need now is some fantastic practical exercises to develop the strength of our perseverance. So, let’s get to it with these fantastic self improvement exercises for hard work and perseverance.
Before we get to the exercises however, let’s remind ourselves of the three laws of perseverance that we discussed earlier. These are:
Reward for hard work REGARDLESS OF OUTCOME
So, we must think positively about situations, believe in our ability to be successful and, regardless of the outcome, reward ourselves for all hard work in order to develop the character trait of perseverance. Now then, for the exercises!
Self Improvement Exercise For Hard Work & Perseverance
Odds are you already know the goal that you want to be perseverant in, be it a personal goal like losing weight or learning to talk to others or a professional goal like completing a very lengthy project. With this goal in mind, try and do the following
1) Visualise a successful outcome
In order to develop belief in your ability to complete a task successfully, try to frequently visualise your success. Visually paint the scene of your success. Think about and visualise the following things: What you’ll think when you have succeeded; what you’ll see or hear (an external sign of your success); how things will be different after your success. Doing this will help you to believe that your success will become a reality.
2) Reward work for the sake of work
Any time you put a lot of effort into your work reward yourself even if the outcome is not what you wanted. For instance, let’s say you set the goal of losing 10lbs in a month, you worked really really hard on it but somehow you actually put on 2lbs instead of losing weight. Reward yourself for the hard work because that way you’ll be more likely to work hard in the future (because you will be training yourself to see a positive outcome from hard work itself.)
3 ) Face problems and be adaptive
Bring to mind any potential obstacle in your way and think of ways around those obstacles. For instance, imagine you have a great job interview lined up but you just found out that you’ll be interviewed by a guy who knows you and who you haven’t gotten along with in the past. Instead of thinking He won’t give me the job think, Right, I can show him my strength of character by letting bygones be bygones and showing to him that we can actually get along. That way, I’ll gain a new friend, end a stupid rivalry, gain his respect for my ability to turn bad to good and be more likely to get the job. Note that here it isn’t necessarily the realism of the plan that matters (cause yes, in all likely hood, your past with your interviewer would pay a part in this situation). What does matter is that you are training yourself to think that obstacles aren’t “Stop” signs and instead are opportunities to try something different and take a new route toward the same goal.
4) Stop saying “I can’t”
It’s one of the oldest mistakes in the book. Mums have been telling us over and over again not to say “I can’t” but most of us still do. And yes, this is beating the point to death a bit but make every single effort you can to be aware of the times you think you can’t do something and change that negative to a positive.
I’ll give a little personal story here. Back when I was uber positive I used to have a rule that every time I thought “I can’t” I would stop whatever I was doing and find 20 ways in which I could. In hindsight this was perhaps a little extreme but it certainly did make me significantly more positive!
Okay, so there we are, some fantastic ways to up your perseverance. Try them out and let me know what difference they made to your goals!
And now you know the importance of perseverance in life, you know why like Churchill you can never, never, never give up.
MORE ON POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY: