Persistence

If you push hard enough against a brick wall, it’s bound to stay in place :-)

Sure, there’s something to say about making a consistent and persistent effort to realize any goal you have; this is not to be confused with ignoring signs or focusing on weaknesses instead of strengths. When you feel resistance, try a different approach. Consider how else you might accomplish what you’ve set out to, but without any resistance. Persistence without resistance leads to an easy and enjoyable life.

Here are a couple examples, to help clarify:

Career: let’s say you’re attempting to learn a new language for work, as you’re about to begin a project that involves travel to a different country and you want to be as familiar with the language and culture as possible. At first, you begin learning Spanish the traditional way, one word — and verb conjugation — at a time and with word-picture association. For whatever reason, it’s not getting through. So, you take a step back and instead of quitting and thinking of language apprehension as a weakness, you think of another way. You make it a point to learn the 500 most commonly used words in Spanish, so you can understand nearly any conversation and begin to pick up more when you listen to other people speak. Since 500 words will only take a couple of weeks, you’re almost instantly empowered to learn Spanish and begin taking in the culture. Your learning curve has been reduced because you stepped back and persisted towards your goal with a different approach.

Relationships: you might notice you’re not getting along well with your significant other or spouse. Since you’ve been in less than harmonious relationships in the past, you begin to think it’s ‘you’, and you’re not meant for relationships. You think of quitting and being alone, but then you remember to take a step back and try a different approach. You reflect back on the easy times in your relationship, re-create as many of those moments over a period of 90 days as possible, and promise not to judge the relationship until 90 days has passed. As you look back, you realize the ‘magical moments’ were a huge part of your connection, and they disappeared when life became busy. You begin to feel incredibly grateful for the new relationship you have with the person you love most in this life.

Food: perhaps you’ve tried ‘eliminating’ every food you can think of that’s supposed to be bad for you. Time and time again, you plateau with weight loss and gain the weight back when you lose your willpower. This time, instead of doing the same thing or quitting, you decide to consider a new approach: an inclusion-based diet. This time, you write down a list of foods that make you feel great and keep the list on the refrigerator. Anytime you eat, you make a commitment to stick to the foods that help you feel the best. Within 2 weeks, you’re hooked, and your list has grown. A few mishaps have occurred — leading towards food binges and energy crashes — which offers you greater perspective of why you’re changing your diet.

Exercise: let’s say you’re big-boned, by nature. Over the last several years, you’ve been trying high-intensity based interval training (HIIT), and you’ve noticed your knees ache, you get out of breath easily, and it feels stressful. Plus, you might have trouble keeping your core on throughout a workout. You start to think exercise isn’t for you, especially with all the gossip surrounding cardio being a waste of time. Then, you take a step back and experiment with an equal and opposite approach. You decide to start taking walks in nature — at a moderate pace — and do short-burst, 5-minute bodyweight workouts. Before you know it, the weight is coming off, your energy level is skyrocketing, and your body is taking on its normal shape. You’re delighted, and you can’t believe how long it took you to try the equal and opposite approach. Persistence paid off again.

You see, persistence without resistance is the key. Trying a different approach allows you to flow with what’s working, quickly identify what’s not working, and make adjustments.

Today’s thought exercise: what areas of your life are you pushing against, instead of pivoting? And what specific action can you take today to look at things a bit differently and try again?

Sent to you with love, compassion, and gratitude,

Kareem


Originally published at drkareem.com on August 22, 2017.

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