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One of the hardest things to do is to keep going when faced with loss of motivation or when you run into a wall. A real word, stick-to-itiveness is defined by merriam-webster dictionary as dogged perseverance. Stick-to-it-iveness or perseverance is the ability to keep on going even when you are not motivated.
Even back in the 1940’s companies and executives complained about people not being able to take on executive leadership positions because of a lack of perseverance. They were seeing then that people were changing careers frequently and very few had the ability to stay with a job long enough to move up into an executive role.
When you have long term goals to achieve, whether they are related to your career, education, or personal life, you need to be able to stick to your plan to achieve those goals. Starting out you’ll have lots of motivation to work toward a goal, but with time and increases in distractions you’ll have to persevere in order to make it to your goals.
Motivation is going to come and go throughout a project or while working toward your goals. Perseverance or stick-to-itiveness keeps you going when the drive and fun are lessened. Use this information to help yourself remain focused and moving toward your goals.
Attitude Changes For Perseverance
Don’t allow yourself an easy out.
Speak purpose over what you plan to do. Talk about things as if they are already happening. Be specific in your statements. Use present, active statements. Say that you are doing the thing, not that you have done it. Saying you have done something, even if you haven’t can bring satisfaction and reward. The goal here is self motivation and a change of attitude. Doing this will drive you to make it happen. Other people will catch on and speak your purpose as well. BJ is a musician and photographer. Will is an author who speaks Russian.
Give yourself something to live up to. Perseverance is increased when you know you have to live up to something. By setting goals that build on one another you will build an internal desire to keep on going.
Sink your ships…cut off your retreat. Backed into a corner even the most docile, gentle animal will turn savage. History is full of military leaders who cut off their retreat in order to inspire their soldiers. Sam Houston used his soldier’s misunderstanding of Deaf Smith’s announcement to imply their retreat had been cut off. Julius Caesar would have his ships burned as soon as the supplies were removed from the galleys. When there is no way out you’ll be surprised how much you can accomplish and push through. Use this aspect of human nature to your advantage by making it more difficult for yourself to give up or quit.
Learn to say “no” to yourself.
It can be easy to allow distractions to prevent you from sticking to your goals. Some people bounce around from idea to idea. They let other things distract them from their main goals. This could be anything from major life events to a new season of a TV show. It doesn’t matter what the distraction is if it pulls you away from your goals. This is rather pervasive in the creative/artistic community. There are lots of people with half finished projects because they think of something else.
Saying no to yourself isn’t always easy. There are always people wanting your time and attention. Sometimes it’s for social events that would be fun. Some of us find it easier than others to say no to fun events. Other times it’s your desire to be helpful or useful. This could be a junior developer who needs lots of attention right now. It could also be volunteer projects that make you feel good for doing. Look for ways to put yourself into situations where you will be less distracted. If all the things available to do in the city are distracting you from your goals then move further out. This will force you to be intentional about the time you spend on activities in the city.
Plan for distractions by building them into your routines. If you know something is coming up then build that into your schedule. Allow for social time in you schedule. You want enough to enjoy life and not burn yourself out while getting there. Keep a notebook or journal just for ideas. These may be business ideas that you want to come back to at some point. They could just be ideas for books to read or articles to write.
Pretend it is easy, even if you are barely able to finish.
The attitude with which you approach a problem affects how well you solve it. Two groups of children were given the same set of math problems. The first group was told that they would likely fail. The second was told that the problems were very easy and to just do them for practice. The outcome is obvious, the first group failed more than the second.
This is something you have to control yourself. Other people will try to influence how you view your goals or accomplishing them. It’s up to you to control how you perceive your challenges.
Learn tactics for plateaus, not just cliff faces.
Plateaus make many people quit early. They happen a lot in the learning process, especially when learning to code. You learn the basics but then get stuck. No matter what you just don’t get the next concept or you have to practice what you’ve already learned to get it down. This also happens in your career and with both personal and professional goals. It’s most pervasive around the mid-level developer phase. You have to get “time in grade” to move through the plateau. Sometimes you feel like you are just spinning your wheels. These boring times of little forward progress makes you feel like you won’t ever get better. What’s hard to understand is that you are growing during these times as well.
Progress toward your goal will not be linear. There will be times you are not moving forward. You will have to go back and start over sometimes. This may be because you are doing something incorrectly. It could be that you went down the wrong path and have to go back. When we look at successful people we rarely see all they went through to get to that success.
Plateaus can cause discouragement which is the enemy of stick-to-itiveness. Unfortunately discouraging situations are inevitable. Perseverance is the ability to push through these discouraging plateaus.
Tips For Increasing Perseverance
It takes more than just creating a goal.
Follow through takes discipline. Perseverance is continuing on when you aren’t motivated. First off you have to want to stay motivated. If you don’t want to be motivated, nothing you do will have lasting effect. The desire to be motivated is the first step to regaining motivation when it is not there. When you hit plateaus, no matter your motivation level, you sometimes just have to push through.
Sharing your goals creates accountability. Telling people your plans is stating your intention to reach a goal. This way the people in your life can ask about your progress. You effectively create social accountability by talking about a goal. Job related goals come with built in accountability. Bosses and supervisors should motivate you to accomplish them. Coworkers can be great supporters, or detractors. It’s up to you to apply either of those to motivate you.
Make a plan to accomplish your goals.
Create a plan with actionable items. Start with a strategy on how you are going to accomplish your goals. When motivation wanes you’ll be able to look to the next step in your plan. Motivation is going to ebb and flow over time. Having an action plan will help you keep going when you are less motivated.
Build a schedule around your action items. Add deadlines with dates to your plan. A plan isn’t written in stone until it has deadlines. That doesn’t mean you can’t adjust along the way. Have a plan for making adjustments, such as regular reviews of the plan.
Allow yourself to mess up from time to time.
“If we could be motivated and inspired all the time we wouldn’t need perseverance.”
You will have times of lesser motivation. Don’t allow times of less motivation to completely derail your goals. Understanding that it will happen and allowing for these times in your plan will help you get back up when your motivation wavers.
The occasional slip doesn’t mean failure. There will be times when you go down the wrong pathway. You may even build part of an app that you have to trash. It may be an entire business venture that never takes off. Allow yourself the ability to recover from these mistakes. If you don’t then you’ll lose motivation even in the successful areas. Don’t let yourself wallow in self pity or self doubt.
The trick is to get back on track tomorrow or as soon as possible. The occasional day off won’t be what determines your overall success. It’s the consistency of how you perform over time.
Create a built in back up for when you do have times of reduced inspiration. Build reinforcements into your plan. One way to do this is to work with a team. If one person has something come up then another can fill in until they are available. Have less demanding tasks of lower importance available for when you are less motivated. Have a list of backlog items or a catch up on paperwork when you don’t have the drive to be creative.
Involve others in your progress.
Get feedback from colleagues and friends. Talking with trusted colleagues and friends who support you can help you when you are feeling less motivated. They will also be the ones to let you know if you are going down the wrong path. Also they may be able to recognize when you are experiencing less motivation and point that out to you before you even notice it.
Share your progress along the way. Let those who support you know about your progress. Sometimes when you don’t think you are having an affect or moving at all others are seeing you make massive progress. When the goal is miles away a few hundred yards doesn’t seem like much gain. To those watching in the stands that’s a football field of gain. It can take a friend to help you put things into perspective. You can even make it public, not just friends and coworkers. Creating a talk on a topic you want to learn. This could even be through a blog or podcast.
Take time for yourself when you need a break.
We all get overwhelmed and can take on too much. Lack of motivation can be a symptom of overwork. Attacking the motivation issue will only be a temporary fix in this situation. Don’t feel guilty about taking time to refresh. Stepping away can help you regain your focus.
While doing this find ways to encourage patience and consistency. It can be hard not pursuing every idea that comes to you. Many of those ideas are great and could lead to lots of success, if ever completed. The key is “if ever completed”. You’re not likely to complete anything if you keep bouncing from idea to idea. Look for ways to keep yourself focussed on your current tasks, such as the ones just covered.
Fears and negative beliefs hinder you from accomplishing your goals.
Many people find themselves in the habit of quitting. This may not be outright quitting. Instead it is letting things slide to the point of not doing them any more. When you quit something you reinforce the limitations you put on yourself. Eventually you develop a habit of quitting.
Unworthiness is a deeply rooted belief that limits your ability to persevere. It creates a cycle of fear and negative belief. This further reinforces the bad habits you develop around quitting.
Fears are deep-seated emotional manifestations of self-limiting beliefs. Fear of failure is the fear that you won’t get something done correctly. You will make mistakes. Rejection can be viewed as a form of failure. Fear that you don’t have what it takes happens when you doubt your own abilities to do something well. Fear of missing out(FOMO) is the worry that you will not get a chance to do things that other people are doing. Fear of vulnerability and exposure occurs when you’re doing something and the feedback (inner or outer) is not encouraging, the you fear being humiliated or looking silly or stupid. Fear of making the wrong decision is the fear that the action you’re taking is not the right one. Fear of success happens when you fear that you won’t be able to handle success.
Let go of fears and negative beliefs.
Don’t try to stop the negative beliefs. Let the fearful thoughts and beliefs run in the background. Admit they exist and move on. Don’t dwell on the feelings just acknowledge them.
Accept your state of mind. Own up to the reality that you have these negative thoughts and fears. When you don’t deny or resist them you can move forward.
Let your actions lead your thoughts. Choose to do something then think about that decision later. The more you focus on your actions the less you’ll focus on your fears. This will short circuit the negative beliefs.
How to Think Like a Coder (Without Even Trying!)
This is a fun book just from the first look. It’s designed to teach problem solving to any age and comes with fun light hearted graphics that are engaging. If you’re looking for a dry tome on the psychology of computer scientists you are in the wrong place. This is a workbook of fun problems to solve. It’s broken into four sections: Learn How To Think Like A Coder, Solving Problems, Learning The Language, and Taking It Further. The first section looks at what it is that programmers do and then gives a short history lesson on computers. This would make a great present for an older child or teenager interested in learning more about computer programming and problems solving. Even adults can enjoy the thought puzzles and lessons in here.
Tricks of the Trade
Pretend to be what you want to seem, until you are what you want to seem. It’s not fake it until you make it so much as it is a brainstorming method that will produce spontaneous appropriate behavior for your goals.