If at first you don’t succeed…

If at first you don't succeed…




It sounds a bit boring really. Like it’s a personality trait that’s not going to find itself on a motivational poster anytime soon.

(I actually searched for motivational posters with ‘persistence’ and found ones with frogs, pencils, and rocks. Not exactly inspiring.)




continuing in an opinion or course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition


Put simply, persistence is the ability to stick with something. To persist, to keep trying, even when things get tough.


How is this relevant for my future career?


Well, persistence means everything.

When an interviewer or potential employer asks you to list words that describe your personality, ‘persistence’ is a sure winner. It means you’ll continue trying to reach your goals and you won’t give up at the first hurdle.

It means that as an employee, you’ll be:

  • easier to train
  • more reliable in the workplace, and
  • less likely to require external motivation

In short, persistence is a strong indicator of self-discipline.

Self-discipline has been scientifically proven to be a better indicator of success that talent. Studies from the US show that a ‘major reason for students falling short of their intellectual potential [is] their failure to exercise self-discipline’.

In a time where marketing is actively targeting your reduced attention span (according to some unverified sources it’s now just 8 seconds (yes that’s one second less than a golf fish)), persistence can help you stand out from the crowd.


But how do you develop persistence?


You could ‘brute force’ your way into persistence, with a huge amount of willpower and a complete lack of distractions.

Or, you could take steps to actively increase your powers of persistence. And you’ll probably see benefits across all areas of your life, from school to work, and even simple things like keeping your bedroom tidy.


Here are 5 great tips to help you develop persistence:


  1. Set clear goals

It’s always easier to stick with something if you have a clear purpose. Check out our post on goal setting for some great tips.


  1. Expect things to go wrong

If Elon had given up the first time his rocket crashed, he’d never have launched Falcon Heavy. Stuff will always go wrong (it’s a fact of life) and if you’re prepared for some trials and tribulations they’ll be less of a shock and a setback when they (inevitably) arrive.


  1. Break tasks into smaller steps

Any task or goal can appear overwhelming if you only look at the whole picture. So learn to break each goal into smaller achievable tasks, and you’ll avoid procrastination and the ‘fear of failure’.


  1. Keep your eye on the prize

Literally. It’s easier to keep your focus if you are constantly reminded of your goals, so cut out a picture of what you want, find an image of your role model, or write your goals down and put them where you’ll see them all the time.


  1. Enjoy success when it arrives

Take the time to reflect on what you’ve achieved – it’ll boost your confidence and help you build persistence for the next hurdle.


Keep these tips in mind and practice them often, and you’ll find success comes naturally.

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