“Circumstances determined your past, the present is embracing you, and only you can define your future.” -Teresita Marsal-Avila
This month I chose Persistence as the theme and focus for my coaching content, webinars, and group coaching offerings. When I selected, Persistence, I had no idea how important it would be for this month. March 2020, amidst Covid-19, has been very challenging to say the least. The need to stay focused and persistent has been incredibly important. So, ending the month with one last post on persistence seems fitting and rather important during this time.
So let’s review what does the dictionary say Persistence means?
- firm continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.
- to go on resolutely or stubbornly in spite of opposition, importunity, or warning
- to remain unchanged or fixed in a specified character, condition, or position
Persistence is known to be key, to success. To reach any goal you must continue to persist to get there. So, every time you feel like you can’t go on, take a step back and ask yourself, what is frustrating me right now? Is it because I am not “there” yet? Is it because I thought it was going to be easy? And finally, do you still want to reach this goal more than not meeting it? Taking a step back helps us, not only keep going, but remind us of why we started in the first place.
I decided to get my PhD when I was in fourth grade, at that point in time I had no idea what a PhD was nor what going to college meant. I just knew that I wanted a PhD. At that point in my life I decided on that goal. As I went through school, I kept that goal in mind. So, looking back in retrospect, I was persisting to get my PhD for twenty-six years. Was my PhD program that long, no of course not, it only took me five years to complete. The actual program did not seem daunting after wanting my Phd twenty-one years before that. Was I constantly thinking about it? No. But I knew it was my long term goal.
So what did I have to do first? I had to finish High School, to me that was easy. What made it easy? Was that I was constantly told how smart I was, so I believed it. “I am smart.” Little did I know that I failed my fourth-grade TAAS test (Texas’ Standardized test at the time, ha) so years later when I saw I failed it I was surprised, how did I fail it, I’m smart. I finished high school in the top ten percent and was able to apply (and get in) to any school in Texas. I decided on Texas State University because I wanted to get away from home but not too far away, lol.
My freshman year there, I almost flunked out, I made a 2.38 my first semester and 2.4 my second semester. “Smart” didn’t really cut it there. I realized that I actually had to do more than just sit in class. I actually needed to study, it took me a few years to figure it out and a couple of changes in major. I finally graduated, in 5 years, with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Spanish. After that, I waited a few years to figure out what to do next. My GPA wasn’t stellar enough to go straight into a PhD program in psychology so I looked into alternatives. What else could I do in the meantime?
After debating a few degrees, I decided on Counseling and Guidance. Halfway through that program, I changed my mind, so I tried out the Bilingual Education master’s program only to decide it wasn’t for me. I thought that since I know Spanish, I was doing my community a disservice by not using my Spanish to teach other children like me. Fortunately, I had a professor leave me with impressionable words, that sometimes when something is too hard it might be because it’s not where we’re meant to be. So, after three years, I earned my Master’s degree in Counseling & Guidance.
I immediately began to look for PhD programs and found “the one.” I made it known to everyone! That after a year off of school, I would apply and begin going to TxState Uni for my Phd. I was so excited. Then about six months after completing my Master’s degree my ex let me know that he could not be with me through another degree. I was shocked to say the least. Like what? Good riddance. After five years, you decide you can’t be with a high achieving Latina, because it’s too hard on you? What’s funny is that a few weeks later I met, my now, husband.
When we set a goal, we often don’t look at the big picture, we expect it to be easy. I mean the Law of Attraction says we just need to believe it right? Yes, but we actually have to do something about it, for it to actually happen. Each of those times, that I failed, I could have easily given up. And these are just a few failures, there have been so many more. When I failed, I looked for other opportunities, other ways to reach my goal.
Did you know that even when you’re not actively persisting towards a goal you are still persisting, but instead of moving forward you are actively working to stay in place. You are then resisting!
Once you have taken a step back, to look at your bigger picture and you confirm that you do in fact still want to reach a certain goal, then and only then, do you ask yourself am I persisting or am I resisting?
Here are some questions to ask yourself to figure out if you are actually resisting versus persisting:
- Am I self-sabotaging my goal(s)?
- Am I doing the same thing and expecting something different?
- Is my mindset focused on the negative?
- Am I self-sabotaging my goal(s)? Self-sabotage shows up in our lives in so many different ways, so are here are a few examples. The most common self-sabotage is making excuses, “I can’t do this” or “I can’t do that.” Clients will meet with me and tell me how much they want XYZ and when it comes to action planning (Note that here’s the difference between someone that wants to persist and someone that is resisting) they will begin with the excuses. “I have no leadership at work.” “I don’t have any time.” “I don’t have any money.” Every great success story starts with someone that came from nothing, who built themselves, and their company from the ground up. So, if you are finding excuses as to why you can’t do something, then you are actively resisting in reaching your goals. Remember if reaching success, was easy, everyone would be doing it.
- Am I doing the same thing and expecting something different? Oftentimes we lost momentum towards our goals because we keep trying the same thing and expecting a different result. When I meet with clients, I ask, what they are currently doing to reach their goals and how that is working for them. I can easily see the resistance towards reaching their goal when their response is one of the following: “I thought if I kept trying I would eventually get there.” or “My friend did it this way and she was able to do it.” If you haven’t heard this before, I am here to tell you, doing the same thing over and over is not going to get you there. What works for someone else may not, and oftentimes, does not work for others. We each have to figure out our own way. If I had kept going to class during my undergrad, not taking notes or the homework then expecting to pass with As, I would have had a rude awakening. I had to change something so I could pass, so I could actually learn the material and pass my tests.
- Is my mindset focused on the negative? After the initial novelty of reaching a goal has worn off (that first day of school feeling, we’ve all had that excitement before a big day) you are left with two choices focus on the positive or the negative. Choosing to focus on the negative is easy, that’s why everyone does it (don’t be like everyone else). Let’s take a step back, imagine you are going to start a climb up a mountain. This is a large mountain from the ground you can see the peak clearly. You get your gear, you’re ready to get to the top and take a picture peering over the valley. About halfway through you start thinking to yourself. Why did I even sign up for this? This is dumb. I could be doing something better with my time. You are in the middle of your hike and you can barely see the ground or the peak, so it is not so clear why you even want to keep going. Everything looks the same from either direction at this point you have two choices to keep going or to turn around a go back down. If your mindset continues to focus on how dumb something is or how dumb you were to even think you could do it, then going back will just sound like the next logical step for you. But what we often forget is the big picture that we saw at the foot of the mountain, when we had a clear picture of our goal (the peak). So how do you combat this? Negative thinking is normal, we all have it, those of us that are more successful, just tell our negative nancy voice to shut the f*$# up because I am doing this! Once you realize, that your ego is just having a freakout and that doing those mundane tasks, that seem dumb but are very necessary to reach your goals, you’ll begin to look at the positive. We all need to learn how to enjoy the journey. While we are complaining about the hill being so steep or how dumb we were to think we could reach the top, we miss the beauty around us. The flowers, the trees, and the birds that are all, a once in a lifetime experience. Look for the positives, the abundance, and overall amazingness around you.
The key to persistence is reviewing your why, looking at the bigger picture and deciding if it is right for you. Only you can decide that not anyone else, so make sure to take some time to reflect and talk it out with someone else, if needed. Journaling also works great, if you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone else.
“Follow your dreams despite what other people think, and work toward them every day.” – Nydia Monarrez, International Speaker & Know for Spanish voiceovers
Nothing to fear, the only fear to have, is the fear of staying the same.
With me by your side, I’ll provide you with the accountability and guidance needed to renew your motivation in your career development. Take the leap and face your fears today by scheduling your free coaching call with me.