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The Unbeatable Combination of Perseverance and Resilience

Perseverance is a constant theme among those who have overcome great odds to achieve their dreams and goals … it’s that stick-to-itiveness; not quitting when the road got tough – that spurred them to keep moving forward regardless of the enormity of the challenges along the way. Recently I’ve had several excellent questions about the relationship between perseverance and resilience so today we’re going to take a closer look at these two important characteristics.

Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.

~Newt Gingrich

The Nature of Perseverance

Many view perseverance as a personality trait, and while I think it’s safe to assume we all harbor at least some of this characteristic, it does take some work and discipline to develop it to its full potential. In fact, even though the study of behavior is still in its relative infancy, research indicates that it is well within your ability to cultivate perseverance the way you would any habit. There’s no question it’s well worth the effort because the reality is that pretty much everything is a little harder and takes a little longer than we think or hope it will. That holds true whether you’re reaching for big goals and dreams or negotiating your way through adversity and life changes of all shapes and sizes. In theory, perseverance is surprisingly straightforward.

  1. Determine the next step.

  2. Identify what (if anything) may prevent you from taking that next step.

  3. Remove said obstacle(s) – or adjust the plan.

  4. Take the step.

  5. Repeat from step 1 as many times as necessary.

Can you see the underlying assumption in this process? You have all the control.

Perseverance alone works as long as you have control over whatever obstacles you may encounter and the ability to manage or rid yourself of whatever they may be so that you can continue on your way to the next step.

Honest, I’m not really a control freak, but will you just let me show you the right way to do that?

~Author Unknown

I’m pretty confident that I speak for every obsessive controller in the world when I say this level of power would be like a dream come true! The problem is life simply doesn’t work that way. There will inevitably be surprises and unexpected detours, and there may even be times when – regardless of the strength of your determination – you have no choice but to go back to the beginning and start over. But while you may not always have power over the circumstances, you do have control over how you choose to respond. And this is where resilience comes into play by enabling you to shorten recovery time from adverse situations. Let’s take a look at a few of the ways perseverance and the capacity for resilience work together.

Perseverance and the Resilience Factor

Purpose Provides the Fuel to Persevere

Whether you are tackling a long-term goal or life-changing situation, being grounded in a meaningful purpose for achieving your desired outcome will fuel your desire to carry on regardless of the obstacles you may encounter. For example, if you’re on a mission to lose weight the obvious reason may be you simply want to look better in your clothes. But is that the only reason? Possibly you want to have more energy to be able to keep up with your children, or your health is at risk or it could be that you’re just really sick of feeling embarrassed about the way you look. Whatever the outcome you aspire to achieve, keep asking yourself ‘why’ until you’re able to identify the core desire associated with it and then use that as an anchor to keep you focused, moving forward and motivated to quickly recover from whatever unexpected setbacks you may encounter along the way.

Be Realistically Optimistic About Your Expectations

Being realistically optimistic is a key characteristic of resilience and it certainly applies when it comes to perseverance. Our tendency to take on more than we can reasonably accomplish at any one time is human nature. Call it optimism, hope, or just wishful thinking, we often fail to realize that it is far easier to think about doing something than it is to actually DO it – especially if we’re trying to achieve something radically different than what we’re currently used to. Having realistic expectations isn’t about dreaming smaller it’s about planning better.

Accept That You Can’t Control Everything

On some level, we each understand the limits of what we can and cannot control in life, but at times, we try very hard to overcome this basic truth. You can influence actions and even certain outcomes, but for each of us there will always be some things (and people) we have no control over and we must accept and work with that truth, or we will waste valuable time and energy being constantly frustrated.

Plan for Success

Persevering does not mean doing the same thing over and over if it’s not getting you any closer to your desired outcome. It’s about learning what does and doesn’t work and adjusting your actions and strategy as necessary so that you can keep moving forward.

Closing Thoughts

Whether you’re striving to achieve a big goal, manage a major life change, or simply looking for a way to reduce everyday stressors, the unbeatable combination of perseverance and resilience will help you to achieve your desired outcome and in the process enjoy more happiness and fulfillment in your life.



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