Persistence: 11 Strategies for staying motivated and persistent in the face of challenges and setbacks12 min read

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I often wonder, why so many people give up on their hopes, dreams, and goals so easily. Why don’t more people stay motivated and persist? 

Staying motivated and persistent is a vital trait if you must be successful in life. You must stay motivated and persistent in times of challenges and setbacks. Life is not a bed of roses. There are ups and downs. Being persistent in difficult times can be the dividing line between success and failure.

Also Read: Do You Feel Stuck In a Phase In Life? [4 Tips To Get You Unstuck And Happy]

What does it mean to be persistent? 

Persistence is simply having a strong determination to achieve a goal despite challenges and setbacks. It means refusing to relent especially in the face of opposition and difficulty. It can also mean the ability to stick with something for a very long time. For instance, if you practice the piano for over a year just to play a song very well, that is persistence. 

Setbacks are parts of your success story, just as huddles are part of a huddle race. Failure is proof you were headed somewhere. In the face of challenges and setbacks, we often have two choices: give up or keep going. Persistence will drive you towards the latter choice. It requires determination, hard work, and a willingness to keep going even when things don’t go as planned.

Also Read: Are You Stuck In A Rut? [5 Tips To Help You Get Through Tough Times, And Emerge A Better You]

Why is staying motivated and persistent important?

Persistence is important because 

It helps you live beyond the now:

Persistence helps you live beyond the now and maintain a forward push, even when you are not seeing the results you want. You trust that despite the opposition you are facing at the moment; you are going to achieve your set goal in a good time and with great results. 

Helps you learn

Persistence is a powerful skill that can help you learn from your mistakes and recover from failure. With each failure, you learn what you need to do differently next time you try.

It improves your self-esteem 

Staying motivated and persistent improves your self-esteem. Individuals who are motivated and persistent know they can set high standards for themselves and accomplish their goals. People see you as a consistent person and they respect you more. This boosts your self-confidence.

It increases the chances of success 

You will have an increased ability to overcome challenges when you become a motivated and persistent individual. You simply get better at overcoming setbacks and challenges in life. This is because you can remain focused on your purpose. Motivated and persistent individuals often work harder to ensure they complete important tasks and accomplish their goals.

It ensures increased long-term growth 

You will increase long-term growth when you persist. Your goals may change as you accomplish goals throughout the year in the course of your career or life in general. You also become more aware of your weaknesses, discover your faults and learn what you need to do to be a successful person.

Some of the world’s most successful people experienced challenges and setbacks before their success.

As American writer Elbert Hubbard said, 

“There is no failure except in no longer trying”. 

Also Read: 2 Humble Truths About Success; And 4 Unusual Steps To Lead A Successful Life

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Examples of People Who stayed motivated and Persisted in Times of Difficulty

  •  Former US President, Abraham Lincoln, is an example of a leader who persisted in times of difficulty. Despite facing many challenges and setbacks, including losing several elections before finally becoming president, Abraham Lincoln stayed motivated and persevered toward his goals. His persistence helped to inspire his team and led to his success.
  • Michael Jordan became one of the greatest basketball players in the history of the game despite being cut from his high school basketball team. He is the author of this powerful quote: “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions, I have been entrusted to take the game-winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” He is also the author of this equally powerful quote: “Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”
  • Walt Disney was fired as a young man from his newspaper job for a lack of good ideas. Then he started his first animation company in 1921, but that quickly went bankrupt. He had to restart several more times after that before finally becoming successful.
  • Henry Ford innovated industrial production with the assembly line. He was bankrupted and left penniless 5 times from failed ventures before founding the extremely successful Ford Motor Company.
  • Harland Davis Sanders- Before becoming Colonel Sanders, determined Harland submitted his now world-famous fried chicken recipe to 1,009 restaurants before finding a buyer.
  • Thomas Edison was considered unteachable as a youth; the inventor changed the world with his invention of the electric lightbulb. Edison discovered over 1,000 ways he could not build a light bulb before this great accomplishment,
  • Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple was ousted from his own company. He could have given up and walked away. Instead, he persisted and started his own computer company, NeXT. This experience allowed him to learn from his mistakes and improve as a leader, ultimately leading to his return to Apple and the success of the iPod, iPhone, and iPad.

Many more successful people faced numerous challenges and setbacks. These people stayed motivated and persistent by taking several actions. This leads us to some of the strategies they employed and you too can carry out these strategies when faced with challenges on your path to success.

11 powerful yet simple tips for staying persistent and motivated in the face of challenges and setbacks

1. Decide what you want: 

Have a defined vision of your desired future state. Without having a clear vision, you won’t know where you are going. And if you don’t know where you’re going, you will waste a lot of time going in circles. Or worse, lack the motivation to persist in the face of adversity. A sense of direction keeps you motivated and persistent.

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2. Set SMART goals: 

Knowing how you will get what you want helps you stay motivated and persistent.  You should set goals that are short-term, mid-term, and long-term.  

SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. 

  • These goals should be specific. This means that your goals should have a focus, clear and understandable. Instead of writing “I will become a great caterer”; you should write, “I will finish my catering training and have a great catering business and school where I will train and empower young caterers”. 
  • They should be measurable. This means your goal can be quantified. This helps you determine if you are making progress. For example, you might need a certain amount of money, equipment, or manpower to kick off or expand.
  • They should be achievable. Your goals should be attainable. This helps you direct your focus and keeps you on track and schedule. For example, saying you will end world hunger with your catering services might be unrealistic.
  • They should be realistic. Dreaming and challenging yourself is good, but your goals should relate to your personal strengths and abilities. For example, “I will start baking in my apartment, then move to a shop, and with time expand to a franchise”.
  • You should also be able to project a time frame for reaching the goal. This helps keep procrastination in check. For example, “I will finish the training in 6 months”.

”No great achievement is possible without persistent work.”

– Bertrand Russell

3. Write and constantly remind yourself why you want it:

Once you know what you want and how you will get what you want, you can regularly remind yourself why you want it. This is a major source of motivation, especially in the face of challenges and setbacks. Going back to your reasons keeps you persistent.

Also Read: Why Is It Important To Not Give Up On Yourself – [5 Inspiring Reasons]

4. Set a daily schedule and show up every day: 

The best way to be consistent is by setting a daily schedule for yourself so that you can know what you are expected to do on a given day. Consistency is key.

This will help you to stay motivated, be on top of your work, and complete tasks in the quickest time possible. You should have enthusiasm and enjoyment for daily activities.

“Persistence, persistence, and persistence. The power can be created and maintained through daily practice – continuous effort”

– Bruce Lee

5. Prioritize: 

The most important task should be done before the others every day. It also demands you say no to other opportunities that may be great but don’t align with your desired result. 

Prioritizing keeps you motivated and persistent by allowing you to use your time and energy in the most efficient way possible. This helps reduce stress and increases productivity. It also helps you avoid procrastination

Also Read: Please Do Less: 4 Negative Consequences of Multitasking

6. Believe in yourself and your vision:

 It is important you believe in yourself and your vision because the path to success can be lonely. Sometimes, you can be misunderstood even by people very close to you. Have a positive mental attitude. Generally, an upbeat mood and positive emotions, cheerfulness with others, and satisfaction with oneself.

“Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.”

Eckhart Tolle

Also Read: The Reason You Doubt Yourself [How To Identify And Get Over Imposter Syndrome]

7. Be flexible to make changes when needed:

Sometimes, you might have to find new ways to complete tasks or rework your processes. You can renew your motivation by challenging yourself to do something new or out of your normal routine especially when you’re stuck. This prevents you from being discouraged and giving up.

“If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t run then walk if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

8. Surround yourself with positive people that also persist: 

You will need a community of ambitious, positive people to keep you moving when you get tired, especially when chasing the big dream.

They believe in you when you need it. They will be there to encourage you to keep going even in the face of challenges and setbacks.

”Paralyze resistance with persistence”

Woody Hayes

Also Read: Peer Pressure And How To Use It To Your Advantage

9. Make productive and effective use of your time. 

You might have to conduct a time audit to become aware of how you spend your valuable time. This will help you see your own inefficiencies. 

You should block out distractions, create a daily planner, give each task a time limit, set reminders for all your tasks, and establish a routine for better time management. Doing all these will help you avoid procrastination, and reduce stress. Thereby, keeping you motivated and persistent in achieving your goals.

“Energy and persistence conquer all things”

Benjamin Franklin

Also Read: Attention Management: 4 Ways To Clear Your Mind From Distractions And Information Overload

10. Practice self-care and maintain a healthy work-life balance: 

To persist in the face of challenges, you need to take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. This might mean taking breaks throughout the day, practicing mindfulness, and being grateful.

It could also include non-work lunches with friends, and having a complete vacation. Engaging in activities that help to reduce stress and increase resilience is of great benefit.

Also Read: The Importance of Breaks in Achieving Long-Term Success and Happiness:

11.  Pray: 

If you are a religious person, Pray. Talking to God when you encounter a setback, can get you up and set in motion to complete your task. If you are someone who has always found it hard to stay motivated and persistent, you can ask God for the strength to persist and complete tasks.

Also Read: Why You Should Pray [+ 3 Steps To Getting An Answer Almost Every Time]


As former US President, Calvin Coolidge said

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” 

You will have to keep going no matter the challenges and setbacks you encounter on a project or leading people or in life generally.

You might be physically, mentally, and emotionally stressed as you face new challenges and it might be tempting to quit but you will have to keep pushing forward. The strategies above will help you stay motivated and persistent.

Never give up on your dreams, keep going, keep striving, stay motivated, and keep persisting. 

God’s lover| Great writer| Avid reader| Biochemist

Peculiar Onumaegbu is an avid reader and writer. She loves learning, personal development, psychology, and productivity. She’s on a mission to help people be their best selves.

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