3 Strategies to Build More Perseverance

Older lady flexing her muscles before a swim
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This character strength can help you solve problems and find success.

Perseverance goes by many names—resilience, grit, hardiness, persistence, hard work, industriousness—each with its own twist but similar meaning. It all comes down to the two major directions of perseverance: intensity and duration. If you’re going to persevere to solve a problem or strive toward a life goal, you need to bring forth hard work (intensity) over a period of time (duration).

“Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration,” Thomas Edison is often quoted as stating. Consider replacing “perspiration” with “perseverance,” and the meaning is fully retained. It is this strength that makes genius and talents possible.

Research has found that perseverance is a primary character strength linked to school achievement, productivity and success at work. Perseverance is not only a strength to help you accomplish your goals and dreams, it is also your strength of engagement. When you persevere on a task, you are “in the zone,” likely functioning at your best or close to it.

Think about reorganizing a room at home or collaborating with others on a work project. Your perseverance keeps you engaged, focused and connected with what you are doing. You can tap into that engagement with any action in your life.

Ready to boost your strength of perseverance?

Here are some practical approaches based in research:

1. Set a goal. Now list at least two obstacles that might get in the way of reaching the goal, such as feeling tired or interacting with a negative person. Decide ahead of time how you will use your character strengths to overcome the obstacles.

2. If you are persevering on a project that falls apart, consider what you have to gain from accepting the loss rather than focusing on what you could lose. Sticking with a failed project can lead to further loss (also called sunk costs). This strategy will help you to not overuse your perseverance.

3. If you want to increase the perseverance of someone else, such as a child or a student, give positive feedback about the person’s effort, focused attention and energy, rather than praising their success. We have more control over effort than success. Offer encouraging remarks, such as, “Your hard work on that project was admirable,” or “I appreciate all the energy you gave during that baseball game.”

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RYAN M. NIEMIEC, Psy.D., is a licensed psychologist, certified coach and education director of the VIA Institute on Character. His latest book is Character Strengths Interventions: A Field Guide for Practitioners. For more, visit viacharacter.org.

 

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