“Patience and persistence are vital qualities in the ultimate successful accomplishment of any worthwhile endeavor.” -Joseph Pilates
My friend author Rochelle Melander offered to write this week’s blog. Thank you Rochelle! I think you’ll find her insights helpful and inspirational. I’ll be back next week with an article about another amazing woman.
Clients often come to me because they’re stuck. They’ve racked up rejections from agents and editors. Or they’re struggling to find time to do what’s important to them, like exercising regularly.
They tell me, “I’ve lost my MoJo.”
They ask, “Is this a sign that I should quit?”
They wonder, “Maybe I just can’t do this!”
Whether you’re trying to write a book or stick to an exercise routine, I can tell you that everyone gets stuck. Those who succeed have mastered the art of persistence. It’s that simple.
But it isn’t. Because first you need to figure out how to persist. Here are three concrete ways that you can use to persist even when you don’t feel like it.
Define Your Purpose
When I came up with the idea for Mightier Than the Sword, a book that would tell the stories of people who changed the world through writing, I had a strong sense of mission. I wanted to help young people tell their stories. Whenever I hit a roadblock—and I hit many—I reminded myself that this book was about much more than racking up another publishing credit. I wanted to help young people claim their power and change their communities. Holding onto that dream helped me keep going.
In the book Find Your Why, inspirational author Simon Sinek encourages people to define WHY they do what they do. He wrote, “By WHY I mean what is your purpose, cause or belief. WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?” (p. 39) Knowing your why will help you get out of bed and keep writing when you don’t feel like it.
Your turn: What’s your why? Complete this sentence: I want to [insert goal] so that I can [insert purpose].
Example: I want to walk daily so that I can have enough energy to play with my children.
Take the Next Small Step
When we contemplate big goals or drastic changes, the “panic center” of our brain freaks out. No wonder we want to quit! We feel like we’re trapped in a cage with a lion. But when we take tiny steps, we tip toe past the panic center of our brain—and we can get stuff done.
When I got feedback on my book proposal, whether it was from agents, a critique partner, or my editor, I could easily slip into panic mode. There was so much to do! How could I sort it all out? It helped me to make a mind map of everything that needed to be done and then specify my next small step.
Your turn. Make a list of all the things you can do to move forward. (Yes, it will look big and scary—so take lots of deep breaths. You might even want to do this step with a friend.)
Then take the next tiny step. If you feel anxious, then break that down into smaller steps. For example, if you’re trying to eat healthier, taking on a program like the WHOLE 30 might be overwhelming. Instead, think about one thing you can add to or remove from your diet that will make it healthier. Maybe you decide to add a vegetable to lunch or remove your daily can of soda.
Deadlines work. But when we are trying to start an exercise program, eat healthier, or write a book, most of us don’t have deadlines. In their absence, we need accountability. Over the years, I’ve done this in many ways. But by far the most effective tool I’ve used? Accountability partners.
Your turn. Develop an accountability plan and stick to it. Get a friend who will kick you in the butt—and set up a weekly meeting. If that doesn’t work, hire a coach to help you stay on track. (We show up for the things we pay for!)
Form good habits
The strength of your habits will determine your success. Seriously. If you’re struggling to persist—start by making your goal a daily habit. If you have difficulty being consistent, tie that daily goal to something you already do, like drinking your morning coffee or preparing your nightly meal. Make it easy to succeed. If you want to walk daily, put on your workout clothes and shoes right next to your bed. If you want to eat more vegetables, do the prep once a week so that you can easily grab them and go.
You can do it. I know you can. Because you matter. And your dreams and goals matter.
About the book. Mightier Than the Sword: Rebels, Reformers, and Revolutionaries Who Changed the World through Writing is a middle grade social justice book pairing life changing writing exercises with the stories of a diverse group of people who changed lives and communities throughout history. The book features people from a variety of disciplines who used their words to educate people about the stars, advocate for women’s rights, end slavery, save the environment, protest injustice, and more. Sidebars explore types of writing, fun facts, and further resources. Available now on Amazon.
Rochelle Melander wrote her first book at seven and has published 11 books for adults, including Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (and Live to Tell About It) and Level Up: Quests to Master Mindset, Overcome Procrastination and Increase Productivity. She’s a professional certified coach, an artist educator and the founder of Dream Keepers, a writing workshop for young people. Mightier Than the Sword: Rebels, Reformers, and Revolutionaries Who Changed the World through Writing is her debut book for children. She lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her husband, children, and two dogs. Visit her online at https://writenowcoach.com or https://rochellemelander.com.
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