How to build determination, persistence and resilience

Have you ever had to really fight that desire to give up? To push yourself to get to an outcome? Or conversely, have you become so obsessed by getting to a goal almost nothing will stand in your way?

Determination is about wanting to achieve something and often this goes hand in hand with persistence and resilience; the ability to stick at something and when you face hurdles and setbacks, you have the resilience to keep going.

This strong attitude, in combination with confidence, is what will make you more successful in life.

Here are some key steps to build determination, persistence and resilience:

Take the first step

Make a decision to do something for yourself. It may be changing your career direction, overcoming a destructive habit, turning your emotional life and relationship around for the better, or simply making a difference to another person. Time slips inexorably away – it feels infinite – but bad experiences tell you that time can also be short. So make it count; make a decision that change is going to begin.

Hold your goal or new-found purpose steady

This will be when you encounter opposition to your ideas and approaches, or feel the chill of people’s indifference or hostility. There’s a nice description somewhere about how apples develop thicker rinds to protect their sweetness during frost. Be the apple.

You will grimace, hurt, cry, even scream (inwardly). Sometimes you may feel you can barely rise again. Breathe, and stand once more. Keep going.

Take time to notice the smaller things

You will gain inspiration from unlikely sources. Look around you at work, in shops, or maybe at an event. Find someone who is always friendly and welcoming. Enjoy the person who effortlessly draws others, shining like a beacon of grace and comfort in a busy, impersonal world. Think about the people you know who, despite their lives, have the emotional and mental discipline to make people’s existence happier and smoother.

These people are symbols for what you can be, too.

Reach out where you can

Try to maintain contact with friends and seek their advice on occasion. When life is going badly, you may feel abandoned, that few people really care. What is happening, more likely, is that some sense your disturbance and feel they cannot help, while others are distracted by their own lives. Don’t hold it against them if they provide little succour.

When things are tough, you may find that you’re not in the mood for easy platitudes. Embrace your temporary aloneness as an opportunity to regroup, and to adjust your perspective. Experiencing and gradually surmounting your own blocks and negative feelings deepens your empathy for others, and in turn helps them.

Look after yourself

This means improving your health, fitness, eating and sleeping well. Enjoy your food, try new things, welcome the chance to physically exert yourself in different ways and then to rest. If you begin the process of change from the outside in, your emotions and mind benefit. Choose activities that soothe your soul and which have meaning and resonance for you.

Polish up your curiosity and interests

This may be hard when you’ve been in a rut or working long hard hours, never able to put your head up. Maybe much of what you encounter seems dreary and unchallenging.

But don’t sabotage yourself with your own inner whining distractions. Develop your tolerance for setbacks.

Keep focusing, reach out and look for new vistas in your everyday existence. You know how you feel when you’ve been rejuvenated by a holiday. Finding mental stimuli is much the same. You want to chase it, like dogs chase rabbits. The goal is in sight – pursue it!

Slowly then suddenly

When you start to notice that you recover more quickly when someone is rude or hurtful, resilience is becoming a habit.

There’s the momentary sting, you wince and then the pain dissipates. You keep moving, you step over the slight. There’s too much else to do, and gradually there’ll be people who want to be there with you. Your wellbeing is on the up, and it’s infectious.

Eve Ash is a psychologist, author, filmmaker, public speaker and entrepreneur. She runs Seven Dimensions, a company specialising in training resources for the workplace. See the rest of Eve’s blogs here.


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