This is a follow-up post to our popular Ultimate Guide to Learning Anything Faster article.
The truth is, most people can become good at almost anything.
However, most of us quit before we reach the finish line. Why?
Why We Quit
Many of us give up before or during what Seth Godin calls “The Dip.”
According to Godin:
Five Reasons You Might Fail to Become the Best in the World
1. You run out of time (and quit)
2. You run out of money (and quit)
3. You get scared (and quit)
4. You’re not serious about it (and quit)
5. You lose interest (and quit)
To overcome these frustration barriers, here are 6 powerful ways to being more persistent and achieving any goal you have.
How To Go Long
1. Have A Bigger Purpose
Once You Achieve A Significant Purpose, You Will Not Be The Same Person You Were When You Set Out On The Journey.
It’s not enough to have just a goal. You need to have a purpose.
As we wrote in our post on achieving any goals in life, setting a goal for the sake of it is rarely sustainable, as you will inevitably be knocked down.
The bigger the purpose you have, the more confidence and persistency you will have to keep going. We can often push harder when we know there are others depending on us, whether it’s your family, friends, customers, or audience.
When we depend on external factors to motivate us, we call this The Gazelle Mindset. This is because a gazelle only runs as fast as the lion that is chasing after it. When the lion stops, the gazelle stops as well.
Having a bigger purpose will create internal motivation within you that allows you to become the lion, not the gazelle.
This means you should:
Learn a language, not to only speak Spanish, but to have a deeper connection with your family.
Learn to become a better business owner, not to just grow your business, but to support your family and loved ones.
Learn how to cook, not to impress your friends, but to lead a healthier and happier life.
Shifting from a self-centered goal to a bigger purpose that affects those you love helps you focus on what you will get out of it, instead of how hard it is.
“Find Something More Important Than You Are.” — Dan Dennett, Philosopher
2. Surround Yourself With Those Who Have Done It
Think you’re too old to learn a language?
What if I told you there are thousands of 50 year old executives, who neither have the youth nor time, that are becoming fluent every week?
Think your “bad genetics” is getting in the way of losing weight?
What about the overweight individuals who lose over 50 pounds in one year?
Being more persistent your goals starts with you, and you need to believe it’s possible. The most powerful way to do that is to be immersed in people who have succeeded in the path you are now going through.
Think about the Roger Bannister four-minute mile. Before 1954, no one has ever ran a mile in less than four minutes. Then, barely a year after Bannister’s accomplishment, someone else ran a mile in under 4 minutes. It’s become such a routine achievement that more than 20,000 people have done it today, even high-school students.
This is the power of a little affirmation and certainty. When you know someone who has done it already, you know it’s possible. As scientists explain, when you have a clearly-defined purpose, with a state of certainty that you can achieve it, you influence a system in our body called the reticular activating system (RAS), that helps our brains decide what information to focus on and what to delete.
As a result, you pay special attention things that help you achieve what you’re after, things you otherwise would have never noticed.
“If You Want To Go Fast, Go Alone. If You Want To Go Far, Go Together.”
3. Develop A Growth Mindset
It’s often our own ego that gets in the way of our goals. When we stop trying to prove ourselves to others, we stop trying to protect our ego, and focus on actually improving the skill at hand.
This is what the researcher at Stanford University and author of Mindset, Carol Dweck, calls the “Growth Mindset.” Compared to a “Fixed Mindset.” where one seeks success as affirmation for intelligence, a growth mindset thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as a catalyst for growth and stretching beyond our existing abilities.
After twenty years of research, Dweck concluded that those with the growth mindset led happier relationships, achieved more success in the classroom, and were much more persistent through challenges.
Another graphic by James Clear illustrates this point through the layers of behavior change. Sustainable and long–lasting change starts with building a better identity, not by focusing on results like your performance or your appearance.
Consistent process is more important than consistent performance.
4. Schedule It
According to Kruse, there are a few key weaknesses of a to-do list:
- Doesn’t account for time. When we have a long list of tasks, we tend to tackle those that can be completed quickly in a few minutes, leaving the longer items left undone. Research from the company iDoneThis indicates that 41% of all to-do list items are never completed!
- Doesn’t distinguish between urgent and important. Once again, our impulse is to fight the urgent and ignore the important. (Are you overdue for your next colonoscopy or mammogram?)
- Contribute to stress. In what’s known in psychology as the Zeigarnik effect, unfinished tasks contribute to intrusive, uncontrolled thoughts. It’s no wonder we feel so overwhelmed in the day, but fight insomnia at night.
Instead, you should use a calendar to schedule your priorities and tasks.
A schedule helps you prioritize what you need to get done, like memorizing 30 words a day or reviewing your Spanish in the morning, and also accounts for time.
1. Write down your action tasks (for each sprint you wrote down)
In the previous lesson, we wrote down short sprint goals you had. Recall back to those sprints and pick one action task
For example, if your first sprint is to have a 60 second Spanish conversation with someone, then your action task could be to memorize 20 of the most common words everyday.
2. Figure out your free times
This could be before you work in the morning, during your lunch hours, or in the evenings after work. Try to keep this free time at the same time during the week, as this will help you create a normal routine for you.
3. Add a 15–30 minute buffer
Plans always change: you could either be waking up later than usual, coming home from work late, or a dozen other events that may unexpectedly come up.
The common tendency we have is to give up when we miss one or two schedules due to lack of consistency, but don’t let this happen to you!
If you’re the unconsistent type, then adding a 30 minute buffer would probably be best. If you’re fairly consistent, then 15 minutes will be sufficient.
4. High priority task
Instead of focusing on several tasks, we recommend picking one high priority task, especially in your first few sprints. This will help you focus without overwhelming yourself.
From your action task list, pick one task you can do for each sprint that will have the biggest impact in achieving your goal, and just do that only.
5. Set reminders
We’re all forgetful, and having reminders will help you stay on track in the beginning.
To set up notification reminders, head over to your calendar, and click “Edit Notifications.”
From there, you can set up pop-ups on your desktop before your event.
“The Key Is Not To Priortize What’s On Your Schedule, But To Schedule Your Priorities.” — Stephen Covey
5. Teach Others
The fastest and most effective ways for us to retain and learn anything in life is to direct apply the learnt knowledge in a practical setting, or teach it to someone else.
As research shows, it turns out that people retain:
5% of what they learn when they’ve learned from a lecture.
10% of what they learn when they’ve learned from reading.
20% of what they learn from audio-visual.
30% of what they learn when they see a demonstration
50% of what they learn when engaged in a group discussion.
75% of what they learn when they practice what they learned.
90% of what they learn when they teach someone else/use immediately
The main reason for this is through the process of teaching, you instantly make mistakes or errors, which forces your brain to actively concentrate in order to correct yourself. Ironically, this is the opposite approach to most of the traditional classroom or software solutions out there, which focuses on passive learning.
This is why at Rype, no matter what method you are already using (from audiotapes, Duolingo, books, or courses), we recommend you work with our language coach to practice and immediately use what you have learned.
Acquire new knowledge by learning what you don’t know.
Preserve the knowledge by teaching what you do know.
Rinse and repeat.
6. Have A Stake
“I Must Achieve X By Y Or Else I Will Do Z.”
Why do people quit diets or learn a language for one month, take a break, and never pick it back up? Because there’s no penalty, there’s no cost. You don’t get fired from your job if you quit your diet. In fact, there is no tangible loss that you will face in the immediate future. So you quit.
However, if you put something on the line, such as a financial state, you’ll be more likely to stick with your goals. By using a progam like StickK, you can set a specific goal with a referee to monitor you, and donate money to a charity as a consequence for not succeeding. This way, you’ll also be making the world a better place while furthering your goals.
When it comes to creating a stake, research shows that the more immediate the deadline is, the more likely you will start. Studies also suggest that we need three times the positive influence the counterbalance the negative ones, so leverage your human nature of loss aversion.
Sticking to a goal, especially when it’s a big one is simpler than it sounds. But with an even bigger purpose, support group, and persistency, you will get there eventually. Just stick to it.
With that said, let’s review the 6 ways you can to develop persistency in achieving your goals in life.
1. Have a bigger purpose
- Shift from self-centered goal to a purpose helping those around you
- Set your vision clear enough to visualize it
- Develop a lion mindset versus a gazelle mindset
2. Surround yourself with those who have done it
- Affirmation not only affects our beliefs but our biological system to keep going
- Find a mentor, coach, mastermind or accountability partner
3. Develop a Growth Mindset
- Fixed mindset requires success as an affirmation. Growth mindset requires consistent progress
- Stop trying to prove yourself to others, and work on improving yourself
- Focus on consistent progress, rather than consistent performance
4. Schedule it
- The most successful people use their calendars to schedule, not a to-do list
- Schedule your priorities, instead of priortizing your schedule
- Have a 15–30 minute buffer for your priorities, in case things come up
- Download your calendar app on your smartphone to set notification reminders
5. Teach others
- Practice what you learned immediately or teach others to remember 90% of what you learned
- Work with a coach or teach yourself outloud if you need to
6. Have stakes
- Humans are more motivated when there are stakes, especially if we could lose something
- Use StickK or work with a friend/family member to set consequences
- Share your goals publicly to set a social stake. For many, our reputation is the strongest stake of all.
Over To You
What is the one goal that you are having difficulty in developing persistency?
Which of these strategies will you use to keep your motivation high?
Share it in the comments below, we’d love to hear your story!
If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also love reading: How to Achieve Any Goal in Life Faster, 7 Research-Backed Ways to Stop Procrastinating (And Get More Done), 7 Proven Habits of Successful People, World-Class Learners, and Top-Performers.