Lots of people talk about persistence. Motivational speakers urge everyone to persist. Lots of writers quote Calvin Coolidge's famous quotation which begins: "Nothing takes the place of persistence."
Judging by everything we see and hear, the road to achievement must be paved with stones of persistence. So why aren't more people successful? Why aren't more people living the life they want to live? Doing the things they want to do?
Maybe, for many people, persistence is merely a noun. Maybe, they haven't discovered yet that persistence is a PROCESS, a process that requires ACTION.
If someone's trying to achieve something difficult, how do they persist? What action is required from them? This combines goal setting and acting over a period of time to achieve the goal.
Persistence = action.
1. Know clearly and specifically what you want.
Not some pie-in-the-sky thing like happiness. You have to know that you want a book contract by next year this time. Or maybe you want a job promotion by the end of the fourth quarter. Or maybe you just want a weed-free yard by the end of summer. Whatever it is. Know exactly what you want.
2. Once you know what you want, ask yourself: what are the steps between here and there.
Identify all the steps. For a book contract, you have to write the book. So what's required for that? How much background work of plotting and characterization? How many pages a day do you write to obtain a finished manuscript by a certain date? How much time to revise and edit? What's the submission process? For a job promotion, you identify who is responsible for promoting you. What do you have to do to make yourself a candidate for the promotion? For a weed-free yard, you figure out how many hours a day you must weed to get the darn things gone. Then how much mulch do you use to make sure they don't come back.
3. Once you know what the steps are, figure out what stands in the way of each step.
With writing, it might be lack of research or insecurity. With a job promotion, it might be lack of experience or time on the job. With the yard, it might be the weather, lack of time, or allergies to weeds.
4. When you know what your obstacles are, figure out how to get rid of the obstacles.
In writing, if the obstacle is your own lack of confidence, then write and study and hone your skills. If it's emotional, work on unloading and throwing away your internal baggage. If it's a job, then the same advice applies. It it's a weed-choked flower bed and you're allergic, then take allergy meds and wear gloves. The bottom line is you have to be like the Marines: adapt, overcome, improvise.
5. Take action. Do what's next.
Nothing changes unless action is taken. You can sit 24/7 and think about what you want, fantasize about it, and dream about how great life would be when you reach your goal. Unless you take action -- take the steps, one by one, that you have identified -- then nothing will change. A year from now, ten years from now, you'll still be sitting and dreaming about being a published author or being the vice president or having yard of the month.
Take action, and keep on taking action, one step at a time. That is PERSISTENCE.