10 Tips to Develop Persistence

Persist (intransitive verb,  \pər-ˈsist, -ˈzist\ ): to go on resolutely
or stubbornly in spite of opposition, importunity, or warning.
(via Merriam-Webster)

Persistence is attributed by many as a crucial key to success.  The ability to keep pushing ahead despite resistance, to get back up when we fall, and to detour when we find out path blocked – these are the embodiment of persistence.

The problem is that, for most of us, persistence is not natural; we prefer instead to follow the path of least-resistance.  To persist is difficult, while giving up is easy.  To persist takes time, while giving up frees us to watch more reality tv shows.  The result is that giving up is the path more often traveled.  To make  matters worse, the easy road can becomes a matter of habit – automatically chosen without any conscious thought.

The good news is that persistence is a trait that can be developed.  With self-discipline and a few tips to get started, we can grow our persistence into the ability to accomplish great things!

10 Tips to Develop Persistence

10 Tips to Develop Persistence

1.  Define Your Purpose.   Some people refer to this as your Passion, your Drive or your Muse.  Regardless of how it is defined, this is the thing that keeps you up at night – either due to fear or excitement.  Define your purpose and you will have a driving force within you.  How do you find it?  Start by asking two questions:  What is the most important thing in your life?  What is your greatest fear in life?  Explore those answers and you may find your purpose there.

2.  Set SMART Goals.  Decide what you want to achieve and set SMART goals that will help you accomplish it.  SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound.  SMART goals give you a framework to fall back on when frustrations arise.  See my recent post for more detail regarding the definition of SMART goals.

3.  Expect Problems.  Problems will arise with any plan, and the first step in overcoming them is to anticipate them.  Prepare yourself mentally to encounter them.  Explore possible scenarios and create just-in-case plans to battle them. Most importantly, remember that encountering problems does not mean you have failed!

4.  Surround Yourself with Support.  Find like-minded friends, colleagues or mentors that will help support you when you are down, advise you on how to get back up, and encourage you when things are going well!

5.  Find Examples to Follow.  Are there others who have accomplished feats similar to the one you hope to accomplish?  How about others who have overcome obstacles similar to the ones you now face?  Document those people and how they overcame adversity.  Study the example that they have set for you and use that as daily motivation.  Hang their pictures and quotations around your home and office to remind you constantly of what it takes to persist in the face of adversity!

6.  Use Small Wins to Establish a Habit of Persistence.  Establish daily to-do items that result in small wins.  If you start your day with a series of small wins, it removes the pressure of larger tasks that follow.  High pressure tasks become merely an extension of your habits.  It may sound trivial, but if you see persistence through small tasks as daily “wins”, you will find it easier to persist through larger tasks.  Suggestions?  Wake on time.  Complete a stretching routine.  Complete your exercise routine.  Eat a healthy breakfast.  These are all small wins that allow you to develop a habit of persistence.

7.  Use Daily Action to Establish a Habit of Persistence.  Without action there cannot be persistence.  Without action, you will not get up when you fall, push past obstacles or keep stepping forward despite exhaustion.  Create a list of items that you should do on a daily basis:  Calling prospects, researching an article, doing your homework, etc.  Set aside a specific time each morning dedicated to one of these tasks and focus on accomplishing it daily.  Start small if you have to, but develop a habit of consistent action and expand until you find yourself taking action in more areas of your life.  Then when life’s problems tempt you to slow down, it will not seem foreign to continue taking action.

8. Research, Revise, Retry.  In other words, learn and try again!  If failure knocks you down, find out how it happened, learn how to avoid it in the future, and try again.  Failures are just lessons pointing you toward success.

9.  Track Your Progress.  Keep a daily journal or check off progress on a calendar.  Refer back to the SMART goals you set in step #2 and use them to keep you on track.  Tracking your progress will show proof of your persistence – another small win!

10.  Fuel up!  If you are not properly fueling your mind, body and soul with what they need to persist, they will stay down when knocked down.  All of life is interconnected – there is no such thing as individual spheres of life.  Physical persistence, mental persistence and spiritual persistence all act to build each other up.  What are you eating?  What are you reading?  What are you meditating on?  Examine the answers to these questions to ensure you are ready to persist when the need arises!

Start including these tips into your daily routine and you will find yourself inching closer toward your goals!

What have you done in your own life to develop persistence and achieve your goals?  Leave suggestions in the comments below!

“As long as there’s breath in you – PERSIST!”

- Bernard Kelvin Clive

Image Credit:  Flickr user pyjama


  1. Excellent post and it’s so true that goals need to be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Bound) :)

    There is also a little technique you can use, if you have the courage that will almost guarantee the achievement of big goals and dreams. It is based on the idea of “social pressure” and it’s somehow part of your fourth tip about getting support.

    Think about this; let’s say you have a goal to lose a certain amount of weight or achieve some desired level of fitness. You can set the goal privately and tell yourself, “I am going to achieve this goal by August 1.” On the other hand, you can make the goal public by telling all of your friends and family what you intend to do and even give a date for your desired completion.

    As soon as you take that goal public, you move into a different state of mind. No longer are you at the mercy of your own self-discipline (which has been tarnished by years of bad habits). Now you have a much more powerful force dictating your day to day actions and decisions.

    • Shanna – your comment is a good reminder that many tips for achieving goals apply to developing persistence. Social accountability is certainly a part of that. Persistence and Goals go hand-in-hand!


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