Goals are important, but sometimes it can be challenging to fulfill them. How many times have you found yourself staring at the unticked goals from your New Year’s resolution? In fact, a survey reported that 92% of people admitted failure in fulfilling their New Year’s goals.
It is becoming common knowledge that to be successful at achieving your goals is to be committed until the very end. What does it mean to be committed? Think about how willing you are to keep pushing yourself whenever you feel tired or how resilient you can be when you have to face challenges during your pursuit. That is the essence of perseverance.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), perseverance is defined as the quality or state of sustaining a course of action or sticking to a task and completing it despite the obstacles (such as opposition or discouragement) or the effort involved. Perseverance is important in helping you stick to your goals. One study showed that perseverance has a positive impact on people’s self-regulation, wherein a person can monitor what he or she does, including setting goals.
Additionally, several studies have tested how perseverance correlates with well-being. One study explained that people will stick to their goals even when things get tough if they think doing so will be beneficial to their overall wellbeing.The achieved goals would make all the time and effort worthwhile.
This article will help you identify the challenges that you may face when pursuing your goals. After that, you will be given ten tips on sticking to your goals by improving your perseverance.
What makes it so hard to stick to your goals?
This article will provide two reasons that make it difficult for you to stick to your goals. Understanding the challenges will help you to take action in overcoming them.
Lack of self-efficacy
There is a common phase shared by everyone where they would find themselves questioning their set goals. Usually, they would ask whether they can really do it or not. This is a sign that people lack self-efficacy.
A study by Arbona (2016) (in the context of educational settings) found that students with the lowest levels of self-efficacy showed the strongest negative correlation between college stress, minority status stress, and persistence intentions. In other words, people can be more vulnerable to stress when they don’t have confidence in themselves, further weakening their commitment to their goals.
Fear of failures
Failing to achieve your goals is an unpleasant feeling that can damage your self-worth. One of the common reactions to this fear of failure is self-handicapping. Self-handicapping is defined by APA as a method of impeding performance so that failure in the future can be attributed to the impediment rather than to one’s lack of skills.
Through self-handicapping, people may cut their effort on purpose. Then, they will use their lack of effort as an excuse to justify their failures. Furthermore, if left unchecked, these people will be trapped believing that they would fail no matter how much effort they exert.
10 Tips to stick to your goals
There is no “one size fits all” strategy. Note that you may experiment with all the suggested tips and then find the ones that work best for you.
Tip #1 Use persistence-focused language
One way to encourage yourself is by telling yourself to keep going using persistence-focused language. In a study by Lucca, Horton, & Sommerville (2019), they explained that using words that emphasize perseverance and the present moment may be particularly effective at motivating in-the-now activity. Some examples of this include: “Keep trying!”, “I’m trying so hard!”, “Keep at it, keep at it!”
Tip #2 Rephrase the goals to sound attainable
Another way to build up perseverance is through setting goals but making them sound attainable. According to Valenzuela, et al. (2020), this activity is to prevent frustration and a subsequent drop in motivation.
Tip #3 Consult with others
Consulting with a coach, a mentor, or a teacher can help to re-evaluate whether your course of action in pursuing your goals will be effective or not. Perseverance can be viewed as spending a long time, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the longer you spend your time on a task, the better the result. Finding many ways to achieve your goals can improve your perseverance by knowing you are on the ‘right’ track.
Tip #4 Work with persevering peers
Friends can also be your source of perseverance. A study by Buechel Mechtenberg, & Petersen (2018) concluded that having a peer as an observer can prevent someone from giving up. It encourages them to not give up right away when they are aware that they would have to defend their tenacity in front of their peers.
Tip #5 Observe persevering people
Aside from being observed, observing your peers who are persevering can also improve your perseverance. The above study also explained that there must be some imagined similarity between the individual and their peers to have their perseverance influenced by the success or failure of a peer. Hence, when a peer successfully perseveres, the more likely the individual to persevere as well.
Tip #6 Have a growth mindset
In response to the fear of failure, adopting a growth mindset can be a solution. A growth mindset holds that intelligence can be changed and improved. As a result, those with a growth mindset are more open to accepting challenges, persevering through failures, and viewing effort as an essential component of progress and skill mastery. Instead of being afraid of failing, they naturally view it as a learning opportunity.
Tip #7 Build up self-efficacy
APA defines self-efficacy as one’s personal assessment of how well they believe they can perform in a particular situation or get the results they want. Improving self-efficacy is developing oneself to be a better person, starting with better self-regulation to build a supporting system. These qualities can at least allow people to persist in long-term goals.
Tip #8 Do mindfulness exercises
Practicing mindfulness exercises, such as the Mindful Body Scan exercise and Mindful Breathing exercise will give you a considerate duration in a mindful state. A study by Imtiaz, et al. (2018) demonstrated that the group who underwent the mindfulness exercises showed greater engagement with their task which led to higher perseverance. Being in a mindful state allows people to perceive their tasks more enjoyably.
Tip #9 Focus on process-oriented feedback
Feedback is good for self-improvement. But in regards to improving perseverance, not all feedback is effective in doing so. One study (on children) highlighted that process-oriented feedback is particularly effective in making children choose more challenging exercises and show higher perseverance.
Process-oriented feedback is characterized by comments that are focused on behaviors and contain verbs rather than labels. An example of it is as follows: “You worked hard for your task by trying out several approaches. Good work!”
Tip #10 Reflect on your journey
A study by DiMenichi & Richmond (2015) suggested that people should reflect on their goal-pursuing journey, particularly reflecting on past errors. Their study found that performance on jobs demanding perseverance can be immediately improved by reflecting on previous failures.
Sticking to your goals requires immense effort and patience. Also, remember that challenges always exist between you and your goals. Improve your perseverance through the ten tips offered in this article. Hopefully, you can finally see the finish line of your goals!
If you would like to learn more on perseverance, visit the Wellbeing Science Labs. Using the research of the Institute for Life Management Science, the lab produces courses, certifications, podcasts, videos, and other learning resources. Check out Wellbeing Science Labs today.
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