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With persistence comes success!

I'm pretty sure Napoleon Hill said that, and I'm reminded of his famous book Think and Grow Rich often as I absorb the ideas and concepts taught today in the world of personal development.

We've all got stuff we want to achieve in our lives, big things and smaller things. Love, friendship, happy well adjusted kids, a well run, organized home, being healthy, being a size we feel comfortable with, financial security, learning a skill that brings us pleasure, helping others and making a valuable contribution, a project around the home, travel, all sorts of things. In order to achieve any of these wonderful, worthwhile, desirable things, we must persist in pursuing them.

So what does persistence mean? I think of it as the famous old "just keep showing up" trick. (Not quite the same as the old "banana in the tailpipe" trick.) There are all sorts of variations on this. I've heard stories of people getting a job they didn't think they had much chance at getting simply because they showed up and nobody else did, or showing up and ending up with a different job. There's also the phenomenon that if you repeatedly "show up", no matter how stubborn or stupid you are, you are likely to accidentally learn something and achieve at least small improvements in your methods and knowledge, or that somebody will eventually notice you, or that you will happen to be in the right place at the right time, or that you will learn from those around you or the environment you have been showing up to.

Now if you want to get really clever and fancy, you can add something special to the "just keep showing up" method that will really rev it up. It's behavioural flexibility. Sounds complicated but it's not. It just means, if you tried something and it didn't work, try it a different way next time. Depending what it is you're trying to achieve, actually going so far as documenting your failed attempts is worth considering. This way you have no reason to repeat a mistake, and can measure more subtle differences in your approach. Anything which can be measured can be improved. Hmm, burned 1800 calories, consumed 2200 calories. That's not going to work.

Repeating a mistake just reinforces the mistake. My piano teacher explained this concept to me long ago. She advised me to practice very slowly and avoid making a mistake, because going too fast and making a mistake and then going over and over trying to get it right, is a much slower way to learn something precise like reading music. This is because the more times you make the mistake, the more you are actually learning and reinforcing that mistake. Yes, you're actually learning and practicing it. I now understand this as creating a neural pathway for the mistake which has to be un-learned.

Persistence, of course, means not giving up, being tenacious, sticking at it. And what makes us more inclined to do this?

The answer is knowing what we want and really believing in it. Not always such a simple thing, and well worth our serious consideration and even some testing.

One important part of knowing what we want of course is defining it specifically. What exactly do we mean by "be more organized" or "have my house under control" or "achieve financial success"? How will we know when we have achieved it? What does it mean to us exactly? How will we measure it?

The other part of knowing what we want is knowing WHY we want it. This is essential for us to really believe in it. If we know what we want, are sure of it, believe in it, understand the real reasons why we want it, and these reasons do not conflict with our values or beliefs, then persistence comes easily if we simply continue to focus on that desired outcome. We can practically set ourselves on autopilot to where we want to go, and let the path lay itself out for us if we keep our focus on what we want.

For what we focus on is what we get. If I keep focusing on dirty dishes in my kitchen, I keep finding them. If I focus on how I love coming out to cook in a clean kitchen, it happens, because I make it happen. My focus even rubs off on my family and the kitchen starts staying cleaner more easily. I'm thinking solutions, actions to take, leading by example and persisting with keeping it that way. If I keep thinking "yuk, the kitchen gets messed up so quickly, bleh, it's disgusting...", that's exactly what I find.

So, to be clear about your desired outcome, really clear, is essential.

To help you clarify your goal, sharpen the picture and nail down the details of what you really want, the first thing to do is ask yourself why you want it. What will it give you? What is the purpose of achieving this thing?

This process will help you check that your motivation is going to work for this goal and that it is congruent with what really matters to you.

There is a tricky bit here though, and that's where there is conflict. We can hold ourselves up from going ahead, persisting, showing up, even when we think we've got our desired outcome nailed. Sometimes our needs and values are not lined up right and need examining to see if they match up with what we think we want. If there is conflict there, if the goal does not allow certain needs to be fulfilled, or is in conflict with one of our values, this needs checking out.

Other stuff that can hold us up are limiting beliefs - these are erroneous meanings we have given to events in our past which kind of run on autopilot and need messing up where they are not serving our best interests.

There are many and varied fancy and effective models and methods for working through this stuff, our many and varied mental obstacles, stories, strategies and self-sabotaging techniques, but if all you had to work with was –

- knowing what you want, really being sure about it,
- keeping your focus on that desired outcome, and
- persisting, just keep showing up,

                   - that would be enough to show some spectacular results.

And of course, if something doesn't work, try something different. No failure, only feedback. Every time you get it wrong, you're one step closer to finding the right way, you've eliminated one more wrong way. That's if you stop and take notice, admit to yourself that you got it wrong, and accept the learning. Yeah, sometimes it's confusing and you have to go digging for the learning, but it will show up when you're ready, if you open your heart to it. (I heard Oprah talking about having an open heart on TV last night, and I really like that concept).

Ramp up the power of knowing your desired outcome, your goal, what it is you want, by giving it detail, colour, sound, movement, feeling, and whatever other senses you can bring in. Paint a picture, record a sound bite, list the details, bring it to life. For those of us sometimes imaginatively challenged, just writing it all down is good. It can be endlessly edited, tweaked, modified and adjusted.

Reading your goals daily is good advice. We all have different predominant ways of experiencing things through our senses though, so varying it up with written words, spoken words, pictures and whatever else we can come up with to remind us of our precise and well thought out desired outcomes is worth doing.

Having your desired outcome in mind is your guideline for decision making. This means being focused on your desired outcome, focused on what you want, and not on what you don't want. If you go about your day making every decision based on your desired outcome, you can be sure you're making the right decisions. What a great feeling.

Getting chronically distracted by our problems, obstacles, embarrassments, failures, humiliations, setbacks, hurts and disappointments must be avoided. Stuff happens, and yeah, it can hurt, but if we choose to go wallow and get lost in it, it can be a long climb back out of the pit, and easy to forget where we were going. Better to just go "ouch", what happened there, what can I learn, and get back to thinking about what it is we DO want. Many of us spend so much of our energy focused on what we don't want, that we are not developing a clear enough picture or idea of exactly what we do want, so that we may remain faithfully focused on it. Even when we take some really hard knocks, it's important to remind ourselves where we have decided we are heading, so we can keep our actions consistent with that outcome, and lean from our mistakes.

So in a nutshell, the way to get what we want is to know what it is, get really clear about it, focus on it every day, keep it in mind and use it as a guideline for every decision we make, persist and keep showing up!


#4 Maureen 2013-02-09 12:39
Thankyou for your article, they always seem to set me on the right road. I can now see how I'm blocking the things I really want to happen in my life from happening. From this moment I will make a concious effort to change my way of thinking.
#3 Loretta from Canada 2011-06-22 12:18
Once again you have come up with such sage advice Yvette, and thank you! I just realized I have been focusing on what I don't want, even though I have been persistent. I will change that today! I know what I want, a true home of our own, to stop paying someone else's mortgage, and to stop beating myself up that we sold our home last year (which is a good thing). I will now focus only on what I want and write it out in detail.
Have a great day, and thanks for your wonderful insight. Cheers, Loretta
#2 Arlene 2011-06-22 03:49
Hi Yvette! Thanks for this. M
#1 Lynn 2011-06-19 04:06
Your words are so amazingly and magically true. This concept is so powerful that people can't believe it until they really try it and experience it - the power of the mind, and how you choose to use it, is key available to all. Getting your head around this concept, and how simple it is, is the only thing blocking us all from what we really want. You are fabulous to share this with all so freely Yvette - you are real gem!


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