Learning perseverance is an undertaking with remarkable benefits for the learner. You stand to benefit intellectually, in leisure pursuits, and at your occupation. This character trait also provides physical, psychological, social, and spiritual benefits. Some would say it gives you an indomitable spirit. Let’s look at what you need to begin learning perseverance.
Learning perseverance requires the exercise of character. This is, itself, a character trait, but when learning perseverance, you will need to apply other character traits: commitment, decisiveness, determination, diligence, optimism, patience, persistence, purpose, resourcefulness, responsibility, self-control, and thoroughness.
You see, this is not an activity for the weak! So where do you begin? What must you do? What steps are involved in learning perseverance?
Define the Character Trait
Define the character trait first. Use a clear definition such as this:
This character trait begins by understanding that there are likely to be obstacles to an undertaking I plan, but with keen desire for the goal, takes clear, continuing action to move forward, overcoming every difficulty, even at personal sacrifice, and keeping at it until the goal is reached.
Learning perseverance of that sort requires work, and the next step is to list the benefits you can expect. Motivate yourself by writing down the positive consequences of this character trait. Here are a few examples to get you started:
· Intellectual benefits. Students of every age realize increased academic achievement as a result of learning perseverance. Even those of us who have left formal education improve intellectually through dogged persistence. Write specific intellectual benefits you would like to realize. Maybe you want to wrap your brain around a course in statistics or business law. Write it on your list. Maybe your child needs to master phonics. Add that to your list of intellectual consequences.
· Leisure benefits. You will probably not have to think long to list the leisure benefits of learning perseverance. You can gain more leisure time by persevering in required activities, but there is more. You can learn new hobbies, sports, and other leisure activities. You can increase your ability in those you already enjoy. Add specific consequences to your list.
· Occupational benefits. Those who are employed outside the home can increase their value to an employer by learning perseverance – sticking to each task until it is done well. Those who work at home have their own positive consequences. List them. Children who are learning perseverance can list the benefits of completing chores, caring for pets, etc.
Once you have listed the positive consequences of learning perseverance, you are ready to set personal goals. Goals are desires with due dates. Think about what you desire to accomplish. What do you desire to undertake in which “stick-to-it-ness” will be required? You may want to start with a small desire when you are still learning perseverance. Later, you can stretch to a great desire such as lifelong marriage!
Exercise decisiveness, Write out your specific desire and attach a due date. By what day and year do you want to have realized that desire to master a course in statistics? Be specific. Be decisive.
Learning perseverance itself is an activity that calls for a strong start. This is where the character trait of commitment enters the picture. Make a firm commitment that you will master this important life quality. You will train yourself to be a person who is known for firm resolve.
Changes, Obstacles, and Setbacks
An inescapable part of learning perseverance is the task of dealing with changes, obstacles, and setbacks.
You will need to exercise determination when someone or some situation changes an aspect of your goal. For example, a boss may change the procedure for a project. A teacher may change an assignment deadline. Each change will test your commitment. Determine ahead of time that you will keep at it, even when changes occur.
Obstacles are not only possible – they are also probable. As Murphy’s Law reminds us: anything that can go wrong will go wrong. You will have to exercise resourcefulness to find your way around roadblocks. You will need a strong dose of optimism to force yourself over the hurdles. Bumps in the road will try your patience. Just remember that it is all a part of learning perseverance. Exercise self-control and drive on toward the goal.
When you or your children are learning perseverance, you will sometimes think you are taking a step backward for every two steps forward. You know you are making progress, but setbacks keep stealing your momentum. Exercise persistence. Picture a bulldog with a big, juicy bone. You can grab the bone and pull, giving him a setback, but he will not let go of his bone, and neither should you.
You have heard people say, “Winners never quit.” Maybe you yourself have said it. The saying has become common, possibly because so few of us stick with things to their conclusion.
Quitting is not always a bad thing, however. When children are learning perseverance, they need to learn that. If you yourself are learning perseverance, remind yourself that there is such a thing as a proper quitting time.
You can recognize quitting time by asking yourself why you want to quit. If the answer is “too hard,” “too long,” or “impossible,” you may be saying that you are lazy. It is time for diligence, not quitting.
Quitting is an activity, not a thought pattern.
If you find yourself drawn quickly and often to thoughts of quitting, you have not been learning perseverance. You have been training yourself in failure. You have programmed your mind to stop when you encounter obstacles instead of finding ways around them.
However, if you find yourself working through every obstacle, giving your all to a task or activity, you may reach a point where you realize that the cost is greater than the gain. You may learn that continuation will require a dishonest act or other moral sacrifice you had not foreseen. At that point, you may want to take the action of quitting.
An indomitable spirit can be good, but high moral values are more important than proving yourself unconquerable.
Learning perseverance requires work, but the rewards are great for those who stick with it.