Don’t Stop Short of Success (a blog post about persistence)  


he-ones-who-win-600x600When I heard author Sue Monk Kidd speak in Greenville, SC at Furman University, she answered this question at the end of her presentation, “Do you have any advice for someone who wants to get published?”

“I’ve never known a writer who wanted to be published who didn’t eventually meet their goal as long as they kept writing, as long as they persisted,” said Kidd.

While reading Michael Hyatt’s blog post about persistence, How to Develop the One Trait Essential for Success, I thought about sharing his information along with what I heard at Furman with the group Women in Networking. I sometimes present the thought for the day at our meetings like I did in June. After the presentation, a member and friend encouraged me to blog about it, so here it is.

Even though persistence is easy to suggest and maybe even cliché like “hang in there,” there are plenty of “messy middles” when tasks get hard, what’s at hand seems overwhelming, and giving up makes more sense than keeping on.

Hyatt’s six tricks to persisting through messy middles are below. I included personal insights.

  1. Set goals. Hyatt says to break down BIG projects into small chunks. For me, this means I don’t set out to write a book by next year. Instead, I set a much smaller and more manageable goal like writing 2,000 words today. He typically reminds us to write down our goals.
  1. Keep the end in mind. I read somewhere on Hyatt’s blog that while writing his seventh book, he wanted to give up – the same temptation he had during the messy middle of every book. He’d learned by then, though, to look at the bigger picture, to reassess the bigger goal. This sounds contradictory to number one, but it’s not. The idea is to accomplish a big dream (keep the end in mind), one small chunk at a time.
  1. Improve your pace and renew your enthusiasm. Now, that’s an easy trick to follow when you’re smack dab in a messy middle, and feeling overwhelmed and discouraged, right? (Imagine this typed in sarcasm font.) How do you turn the urge to give up into an improved pace, much less enthusiasm? In another post, Hyatt said something like, “Reconnect with your why.”

In a workshop presented this week, friend and colleague Summer Turner said, “Figure out who your customer is, what they need, and what you have to offer them. This purpose renews your enthusiasm.”

During today’s meeting of Women in Networking, our president Anjana Duff suggested something like this, “Gratitude, though not a natural response during messy middles, helps us refocus on inspired action and regain enthusiasm.”

Hopefully one of these ideas will prod us along and refuel our enthusiasm.

  1. Run and walk. This trick is about pacing ourselves. I can attest that running hard and fast lands us in a place of reacting (like saying “yes” to opportunities we don’t want) rather than taking action toward our goals. It’s best sometimes to rest, to make time for recreation, and to reevaluate our direction.

For nearly two years, I wrote at least seven articles a week, often more. I took every assignment offered including a how-to blog post about starting a lawn mower after it sits idle throughout the winter, one about the best mousetraps on the market (don’t ask, I don’t remember), and another about eliminating squirrels from the attic. Speaking of squirrels …

  1. Kill the distractions. Distractions run rampant like squirrels … oh, look, a tree. Oh, a nut. Oh, a car to run in front of. Oh, the same car to run back in front of since it didn’t hit me the first time. It’s easier to avoid being distracted when we’re clear about our purpose. To say no to small distractions, we have to be committed to a bigger yes.
  1. Change your self image. Hyatt says, “The most important trick for getting more persistent is to see ourselves as persistent people.” Norman Vincent Peale said something similar, “Change your thoughts and you change your world.”

I appreciate comments and your insights about persistence. I ended the presentation with this quote by John Maxwell.

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret to success is found in your daily routine.”


10 responses »

  1. Good post!

    I’d add this – exercise regularly, and vigorously. Creating endorphins builds confidence, and confidence is the handmaiden of persistence.

    I always wanted to use the word handmaiden in a for-real sentence…now I can die happy!

    • I’ve missed your comments, Andrew. This one made my evening! Of course, to get comments, I have to write blog posts. 🙂 If one person dies happier (no time soon, okay?) because of my blog, I can probably stop writing again for several more months.

      Great tip, by the way. I returned to the gym in January and, you’re right, it makes a difference.

      • I’ve missed being here. Had some massive health setbacks, and had almost no internet connection through April and May. I had to borrow my wife’s smartphone to keep my blog alive, and that was it…she lives by that thing, and I never had time to even check email.

        Physical fitness is important. The times I couldn’t exercise due to wounds, I did notice a distinct drop in my resolve and optimism.

      • I’ve been absent from my blog since February, so I’m happy we’re both back. I’ve noticed the same thing when I’m not exercising and it’s a vicious cycle. I finally stepped out of it and into the gym. I feel healthier, stronger, and, yes, more optimistic.

  2. Very good advice Kim. Can’t tell you how many “short stories” I have written with no endings that were really intended to be novels.

  3. Kim

    I like this blog. It contains wisdom and techniques that may be applied to endeavors beyond writing.
    To add to the section on run and walk I would offer that sometimes a strategic retreat may be necessary to regroup ad reevaluate
    . I just finished watching “George Washington, the Warrior on the history channel. He kept his goal in mind with several strategic retreats, only to eventually defeat the English and form our country. He always led in front of his men. Retreat is hard but sometimes necessary.

    George had a clear vision of who he was and what he wanted in life. He as your blog suggests never gave up either in the military or as a gentlemen farmer at Mt Vernon.

    Speaking for myself, distractions abound as I confront the normal aging process. For example I almost put off commenting on your blog to respond to a minor distraction. Glad I stayed on course this afternoon. Thanks for your writings. They always provide food for thought.

    • Thanks so much, Bob. Your comments offer the same, food for thought. I love the story about George Washington. It’s interesting that famous people typically use the same strategies. That’s why they’re remembered through history. I don’t think anyone ever got famous by giving up, but, if so, that’d be a one of a kind post. Thanks again!

  4. Congratulations on the re-start! Thanks for including me and making me sound like I said something smart. 😉 I like knowing that the road to success is as much about persistence as anything else. Sometimes we don’t feel like we have anything bigger, better, faster, stronger, or smarter than someone else. It’s comforting to know that it’s not always about those things. Often the ones who succeed do so simply because they persisted and stayed the course….and stayed inspired to stay the course. 😉 Great blog post!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Anjana. You’re right, if we compare, we may get discouraged and stop. I could use a daily reminder that persistence is key. I love your word “inspired.” If I didn’t already have two words for the year, I might add that one. Maybe next year.

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