Perseverance = Success
What does perseverance have to do with personal finance? Just about everything.
Whether you have a goal to pay down your debt, save more, or retire earlier, perseverance is going to be the key to your success. You have to be able to continue on your path toward your goals, even in the face of the obstacles you will undoubtedly face.
Perseverance = Success. Such a straightforward equation that can be incredibly difficult to put into practice. Yet, once a person has mastered the art of perseverance, they have the key to finding happiness and success for the rest of their lives.
The dictionary defines perseverance as a “steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement”.
We are a culture of instant gratification. We want what we want and we want it right now. And, if we do not get what we want right now, we either find the means to get it as soon as possible or, if results don’t come swiftly and easily, we give up and move on to the next thing.
When we are trying to reach a goal or achieve something in life, there is never a straight, easy road to the end. We experience potholes, bumps, roadblocks and curves along the way. The map doesn’t tell us about these obstructions and it’s tough to figure out on our own how to get past them, but it’s when we do that we eventually reach our destination.
When we persist and push on to reach our destination, we look back at that rugged and uneven road and realize the destination wasn’t nearly as important as the actual road we took to get there. The destination is just a bonus.
Look at how much we have learned from that bumpy, curvy, seemingly impassable road! If we made it past those countless roadblocks, imagine what other roads we could navigate. Success.
My Lessons in Perseverance
My journey with martial arts training began in my mid 30’s. Initially I started down this path with my children and husband, just for something fun to do. I had no prior experience in sports and have never really considered myself to be all that athletic. Fit, sometimes, athletic, never.
Given this lack of experience and perceived lack of ability, the goal of black belt never crossed my mind. I just went with the flow and enjoyed the benefits of my Taekwondo training – exercise, flexibility, and the challenges involved.
Testing for each belt level pushed me into a massive state of discomfort. While waiting for each test to begin, I felt ill. Yet, somehow, I got up, went out on the floor and completed each test.
Even though the tests made me a nervous wreck, when they were over and I received that next belt level, the feeling was indescribable. I began to think that maybe, just maybe, I actually could have a black belt in my future.
Taekwondo skills did not come naturally to me. I had to work and practice regularly and sometimes didn’t feel like I would ever be able to do it right. Sometimes I didn’t want to go to class and sometimes I left class feeling like a total idiot for not being able to do what the instructor asked.
The fact that my husband was there with me was, without a doubt, a huge factor in my motivation to continue. I kept going to class and learning and came to realize that I would never be perfect, but that’s okay, because as long as I kept trying I did continue to improve.
My perseverance paid off and I did receive my black belt three years after beginning and am working toward my second degree this year. I can say, for certain, that my experiences and struggles in Taekwondo have changed my life.
The fact that I have come so far from where I was in the beginning, and that it has never, ever been easy, has carried over into all other areas of life. I am more adventurous, willing to take chances and have become more confident. I am encouraged that, if I try hard enough for long enough, all of my goals can be reached.
How to Master Perseverance
What do you want to accomplish?
Without goals, you will fumble and go adrift, never knowing exactly where you are going. Write them down.
If you want to pay off debt, that is your goal. “I will pay off my debt”.
Create your road map to your goal. What specific steps do you need to take to get there?
Clearly define all of the steps you need to take to reach the goal. Make each step small enough that it doesn’t take a huge amount of time or effort to do in one sitting. Promise yourself to do one step each day. Write this down.
If your goal is to pay off debt, your first step may be to look at your credit card statements to know how much you owe and what your interest rates are.
Your second step may be to call the credit card companies to get your interest rate lowered.
Decide what you will do when you reach an obstacle
Inevitably, you will come up against those seemingly impassable roadblocks. Plan for the times when things don’t go according to your plan. What will you do to get back on the right track?
Your car breaks down and you have a repair bill that will keep you from paying the additional payment on your credit card. What do you do? Pay the minimum on the card, or as much as you can. Then, get back on track.
The most important step: Vow that bump in the road will not keep you from your goal and start right back up on paying down that credit card the very next month.
When you do just one small step every day that gets you closer to your goal, eventually you will develop the habit of taking those steps.
Maybe one of the steps on your roadmap is to come up with an extra $1 every single day toward debt repayment. (After all, just $1 a day is $30 more per month than you were paying before).
Once this becomes a habit, you may be surprised that you are able come up with even more than $1/day and you are actually motivated to do it as you see your progress.
Develop a positive mindset and belief in yourself
As I said in my post on mindset, you have to have the ability to turn any negative self-talk into positive self-talk in order to believe that you can reach your goal.
“I will never be able to pay off my credit card debt”
“I may not be able to pay off all of my credit card right now, but if I try and work on it every day, eventually I will have it paid off”
Talk about your struggles and triumphs with your trusted family, friends, or others with a goal similar to yours. Simply telling others your goal can provide motivation and make you more accountable to your goals.
Once you go through the struggles and obstacles to eventually reach a goal and develop the skill of perseverance, it radiates to all areas of your life, allowing you to accomplish goals you previously thought were unreachable.