Is Persistence A Good Or Bad Character Trait?

Self-improvement is a hot topic nowadays. More and more people search the web for ways that they can improve themselves and become more successful in life. One of such areas of improvement is adopting successful character traits. It can however be quite tricky to navigate the world of psychology and to find those traits that will give you that much needed slight advantage in life.

Often times when character traits are being researched, not enough attention is paid to both the good and bad sides of that trait, and whether it is even feasible to try adopt that trait into your own personality.

In this article I will talk about persistence, which is a common trait among the ultra-successful in our society!

What Is Persistence

The dictionary definition of persistence follows as “The fact of continuing an opinion or course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.” Every human being has some level of persistence build into them. Some a lot more than others.

In my eyes persistence is so much more complicated that just “continuing a course of action when things get difficult”. For me, persistence is much more flexible than that. Let me explain!

Persistence is all about having a vision, and working as hard as you can to turn that vision into your reality. However, the path you take is separated from this. There are many ways to get you where you want to go. Being persistent does not mean pursuing just one of these ways. Being persistent is only applicable to your end goal, not the path you take.

“Be relentless in pursuing your goal, but be flexible in your path to get there!”

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I am sure you will have come into contact with people that exhibit very large amounts of persistence:

  • Having a parent nag you to finish your chores
  • The annoying door-to-door salesman who you just can’t seem to get rid off
  • When you try to persuade your parents to let you go to that party

Similarly, many examples about people with a low persistence can also be found:

  • Your friend who doesn’t stick with activities because he finds them challenging
  • When your friends have peer pressured you into doing something which you didn’t want to do

From these examples it might seem that having a lot of persistence is a good thing, there are some pitfalls as well. In the next few points of my article I will explain the positives as well as the negatives of a high persistence character trait. I will also show you some methods that you can use to either increase or decrease your persistence according to your personal situation.

When Persistence Is Good

I find that the people with a lot of persistence have an almost inhuman ability to just get back up when life has pushed them down. No matter how many times you get knocked down, having high persistence in your personality means you will get back up no matter what!

It is common knowledge that never giving up on your goals is an inherently good trait to have as a person. You don’t want to be known as the that person that quits the moment the going gets tough. Incase you didn’t know this, let me provide a few cool examples of when persistence really payed off:

  • The Walt Disney Company was founded by Walt Disney, an entrepreneur who had to declare many bankruptcies on business that failed. He failed many business ideas, but due to his persistence, he set up on of the largest entertainment companies in the world.
  • Thomas Edison failed 999 experiments, but his 1000th experiment yielded the invention of the light bulb!
  • Dr Seuss’s first book was rejected by over 27 publishers!

If you are sure that you are on the right path of success, giving up is the biggest mistake you will make in your life!

When Persistence Is Bad

Despite all the positive examples you have just read about persistence, there are some pitfalls to be aware of. One of these is called the “sunken cost” phenomenon.

So what is this sunken cost phenomenon?

Essentially it is when you make a decision solely on the magnitude of past resources that have already been invested and would be considered lost if you were to quit now. Even when better & healthier alternatives are available, we still tend to stay with our original plans!

A common example is: The gambler keeps gambling more & more money to try and earn back his losses. Eventually he will lose all his money. Knowing when to quit is a very crucial skill to have when your personality shows a high persistence trait.

High levels of persistence can be extremely harmful to relationships with other people, and if you are not careful it might even destroy them. Persistence can definitely work on people, but knowing when to stop is crucial. Because if this boundary is crossed, there might be no going back!

How Do We Recognize When We Need To Let Go

Luckily for you there are methods you can use to recognize when you need to keep persisting, and when it is time to let go. This method is a question and answer analysis of the situation. There are a couple of questions you can ask yourself when you are in doubt whether to persist or quit.

1. Are our initial reasons still valid?

One very important question you have to ask yourself is whether you are still working towards a goal that you deem worthy to achieve. Is this goal still in your interest of achieving? If this is not that case, then it may be time to quit.

2. Would the situation get worse if your efforts stopped?

Lets say you were to stop working on an activity, in 3 months time, would you be worse off than if you had not stopped working. If you realize that not much would have changed, it might be fruitful for you to re-evaluate the importance of that activity for your the realization of your vision.

3. Does achieving your vision get more complicated as time goes on?

If you unexpectedly find that working towards your vision keeps getting more difficult, it might be a sign that your goal planning isn’t accurate. I suggest you stop persisting with your work, and re-evaluate your goal achieving plan.

4. Have critical deadlines been met? Are there signs of progress?

Have problems been solved, are there new activities underway? These are all things you have to ask yourself. If you are trying to get in shape but you have been stuck lifting the same weight or running at the same pace for the last 5 months, it might be sign to re-evaluate your strategy!

Can We Learn To Be More Or Less Persistent

Every character trait can become one’s own through study and practice. Persistence is no different. If you just adhere to the previous list of questions, you will immediately see changes in your levels of persistence. With time and experience, you will be much more adepts at reading your surroundings and become much more knowledgeable when to persist, and when to quit.

Remember that I can take from 28 days to a couple of months for a new habit to solidify into our routines. Therefore you must give it sometime before it becomes a 2nd nature to you. If you have the patience and will power to go through with this, you will see drastic improvements in your future success!

5 thoughts on “Is Persistence A Good Or Bad Character Trait?”

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