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Perseverance: A Must-Have Ingredient for Any Goal

There’s a quote I love to reflect on that says

“It takes twenty years to make an overnight success.” -Eddie Cantor, comedian

Many people read success stories like Brian’s and how he paid off 109k in debt and think that the success somehow came with minimal effort. They don’t see the hard work behind the lines of success, or they see that success will take them much longer than they anticipated and so they simply give up.

I’ve watched many people on the road to debt freedom, building wealth, gaining health, restoring relationships or overcoming other difficulties, and I can say that in 98% of them that the road to success took much longer than most people watching from the outside realized, and came with a mountain of setbacks that were also not noticeable from the outside looking in.

It was only because those working toward the goal chose to “keep on keepin’ on” that success was actually achieved.

Ask any successful actor, singer, investor, business person or any other successful person in life how they reached success so quickly, and they will likely laugh hysterically. I see this often with our oldest daughter, who is well on her way to a professional career in comic art.  People see one of her drawings, like this one:

 the_furry_and_the_furious___inks_by_c0de_7-d9i597m (1)

And they comment on how lucky she is. It’s obvious that Madelyn is a very gifted artist. But when people comment on how “lucky” she is to be able to draw so well, I have to laugh, because that luck came with thousands of hours of hard work. If I had to estimate how much time our 16-year-old daughter has put in at practicing drawing since she took a liking to it at age 3, I’d say that she’s put in, at a minimum, 15,000 hours of work at learning how to draw. And that is a conservative estimate.

I say this to help prove that success in any area, whether it be getting out of debt, saving for early retirement or learning a new skill well will only come if you’re willing to persevere through the roadblocks, the discouragements, the setbacks and the frustrations along the road to success.

The Key to Perseverance

All journeys to success come with these hindrances, but there are ways to overcome the discouragements that work to keep you from achieving your goals. Here are some tips for helping you persevere on your journey to debt freedom or wealth building.

Make Up Your Mind

If you want to make it through the setbacks that will come your way as you work to reach your goal, you have GOT to get it straight in your head that you will not give up no matter what roadblocks come. Failure will come, but quitting is optional. Make up your mind that you will not quit until you’ve reached your goal, no matter what.

Look at Your Long-term Success

Keep an eye on where you’ve come from instead of on how far you have to go. Any downward tick in debt is a success, no matter how small. Looking at your journey with a positive attitude will help you to stay on course.

Accept that Bumps in the Road are a Part of the Deal

You can’t control everything, so simply choose to control what you can. Know that bumps will come, and be ready to overcome them when they show up. Prepare yourself for the journey before you start.

Be Willing to Re-Assess

If your journey is having more bumps and setbacks than is acceptable, you have to be willing to re-assess your plan and work to figure out what you might be doing wrong. Some setbacks are out of our control, some setbacks are in our control. If your debt payoff journey is taking much too long, it might be time to get more serious about cutting expenses. It might be time to sell the house or the car. You have to do what’s best for your particular situation, but that needs to be balanced with a continual assessment of how serious you are about getting out of debt.

If you find you need to do more, sit down and figure out where you can cut expenses or turn off the TV and make a plan to earn more money. No pain, no gain as the old saying goes.

If I had to pick just one ingredient to the success of any goal, I would have to say it was “perseverance”. Without that, it’s simply too easy to give up when the going gets tough.

*Photo courtesy of Bettina Woolbright

13 comments on “Perseverance: A Must-Have Ingredient for Any Goal

  1. Love what you said here Laurie: “Keep an eye on where you’ve come from instead of on how far you have to go”. That particular sentence works not just for debt repayment, but any big goal that you are working towards, like weight loss, getting healthier, de-cluttering, etc…

  2. Your daughter is so talented! Isn’t she lucky to have that gift.
    Got you! But here’s a thought: Some people really do have natural gifts, and when they add effort to that gift, they go further than someone who doesn’t have a natural gift who also adds effort. I do not have a natural gift for money matters. That’s why it took me so long to wake up to my money faults. And although effort is changing my financial landscape for the better, I’ll never be Warren Buffet or Mrs. Frugalwoods. I’m OK with that; I’m just saying that gifting does, I think, play a role in success.

    1. I think the point is that your effort equaled success – regardless of whether or not you were gifted at money management. You’ve done great, Ruth, because you’ve continued to try. 🙂

  3. I agree 100% – perseverance is the one ingredient that’s underlying all successful endeavors. It’s not that “sometimes” you will want to quit or take the easy road. It’s more like “all the time” you will want to quit and take the easy road. And that’s why it’s so hard to be successful at…anything! Its a constant battle, but one that seperates the do-er’s from the wisher’s.

  4. Love the drawing! Need to show it to my 16 year old artist. Seems like they are on very similar paths, and have spent countless hours on their crafts. I agree on perseverance, and one of the tips I share with my children is consistency. Give a consistent effort in all thing you do.

  5. One book that I love is called The Dip (Seth Godin), and it talks about how the greatest successes aren’t early on, but as you persevere through the part of life where things seem to get worse instead of better. The ability to see through to the other side is key with perseverance (and you’re right, re-assessing is key too).

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