While we can all recite quotes about how persistence is the key to success –“If at first you don’t succeed … “, “Nothing good comes easy” — they’re easier said than acted upon when we feel instead like we’re “banging our head against a wall” or “beating a dead horse.”
The fact is many workers and job seekers struggle with persistence nowadays. It can be hard to keep going when your job search proves fruitless after months of hard work, you still haven’t gotten that promotion you were hoping for or it seems like your “big break” is always just out of arms’ reach. With so much time and energy put it our efforts to persist, doing so to no avail can cause us to wonder if our persistence will ever pay off.
According to Caroline Ceniza-Levine, co-founder of SixFigureStart,persistence does pay off, so long as we remember one thing about our path to achieving our goals: There is a difference between smart persistence and blind persistence.
“Persistence to a goal pays off as long as you can be flexible on how you get there,” Ceniza-Levine says. “If your job search isn’t yielding offers, then whatever you are doing is not working. You may have the right role and companies in mind but your marketing, your interview technique, your networking approach, or something else about how you are presenting yourself to these prospects is off. Or the prospects themselves may be wrong for you.”
With that in mind, here are a few strategies for successful, smart persistence.
According to Tyler Tervooren, author of the blog “Advanced Riskology,” persistence works best when there’s a method to your madness.
“Persistence does pay, but only if it’s persistence with a real strategy” he says. “If, in the worst economy of our time, your strategy is to send out a résumé and say ‘Here, hire me please,’ you’re never going to get anywhere no matter how many times you do that.
On the other hand, if your goal is to make enough money to support yourself and you’re willing to try a bunch of different things like submitting an online résumé or portfolio, going to networking events, meeting influential people in different industries or even starting your own business, then yes, persistence pays off,” he says.
To elaborate on Tervooren’s example: As a job seeker your overall goal may be to find a well-paying job in your industry. You decide that you will send out 10 résumés per week until you get a job — but after months of searching, you have yet to land a position. While your ultimate goal may be a realistic one that’s well within your reach, your way of going about getting the job is unrealistic.
Instead of just sending out résumés:
• Seek out new networking opportunities by joining a professional organization or volunteering in your community AND
• Engage the companies you’d like to work for on Twitter and LinkedIn AND
• Take a class online or at a local community college to freshen up your skill set and enhance your résumé AND
• Consult a professional résumé writer to make sure you résumé is fine-tuned and captivating
“You need be willing to try any crazy idea you get to make [your goal] happen; give up on the tactics that aren’t working and pour more into the ones that look more promising. Do that over and over again and you’ll get what you want,” Tervooren says.
Take off your blinders
While it’s important to have goals, it’s also important to make sure you don’t get so set on one particular path that you miss out on other opportunities that may prove equally rewarding.
“You cannot get so stuck or focused on that one goal that you forget to see other opportunities that might be even better than your original goal,” says Jason O’Neill, teen entrepreneur and author of “Bitten By the Business Bug.”
“While goals are good in theory, if someone doesn’t reach their goal, they often feel like they failed. However, if they take off their blinders, keep their eyes open, they just may see some other direction they never even thought of.”
Accept that waiting is part of the process
It’s important to remember that your goals won’t happen overnight, and that you need to maintain a positive attitude in order to persist successfully. Believing that your goals will happen in your ideal time-frame will only lead to discouragement, so be willing to wait for your reward.
“The ability to delay gratification is vital,” says Dr. Sylvia Gearing, a clinical psychologist in Dallas and owner of Gearing Up Counseling Centers. “Sacrificing short-term pleasure for a long-term goal is key here. Success has everything to do with tenacity. The world is full of intelligent, talented people who never achieved anything — simply because they gave up.”
Essentially, while persistence is necessary in achieving any goal, blind persistence isn’t. Pouring your time and energy into a method of achieving you goal — when that method isn’t working — is a waste of time. Trying every avenue you can think of in order to achieve a goal, on the other hand, is when persistence really does pay.