Goal Setting – Why Persistence Isn’t Always the Answer


What are some of the essential qualities necessary to become successful? If, like me, you’ve spent a good deal of time reading ‘how to be successful’ books, you will recognize that most of them list traits and personal attributes shared by most successful people. Some of these are; desire, goal oriented, commitment, decisiveness, definiteness of purpose, focus, and several others. You will also find the word persistence mentioned by most as the chief ingredient necessary for success. It’s the quality of sticking to something through the ups and downs, never quitting, but striving forward toward eventual success. While just about all would agree that persistence is necessary to succeed at anything, is there a point where persistence becomes foolhardy stubbornness, an unwillingness to face reality, and make necessary change?

In the book, ‘Think and Grow Rich’, Napoleon Hill states that one of the qualities Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Company possessed in abundance was the quality of persistence. Hill stated that once Ford locked onto an idea, he would persist with it doggedly until he succeeded. It didn’t matter to him how long it took, he would stick with it until he ultimately achieved his goal. This unyielding persistence helped him to build Ford into the largest automotive manufacturer of his time. While this trait of Ford’s was in no small way responsible for his success, the author later states how this characteristic almost caused the ruin of Ford by his refusal to modify the design of the Model ‘T’ Ford. The same quality that served him so well in building his company worked against him in adapting to change.

Among the people who know the current president intimately, several say that one of his most pronounced traits is persistence, an intractable obstinacy that compels him to see something through to the end. While some may see this as an quality to be desired, others see it as a reckless stubbornness that can ultimately lead to failure and in the case of war, possible disaster. Where you stand on this issue mostly depends upon what side of the fence you’re on politically, but the point is that there are indeed times when change is necessary. The problem is in determining when that time has come? As stated in a song from a few years ago, “good things come to those who wait, not to those who wait too late”. There are in fact times when change does indeed come too late.

Unfortunately, figuring out when it’s appropriate to keep on keeping on, make slight changes, or possibly head in a completely new direction is not something that comes with built in instructions. One of the things that has helped me to determine where I stand with something is setting goals and constantly evaluating those goals. Setting realistic goals and evaluating where you are helps to clarify what you’ve done right, and where you’re falling short. It may be that you just need to tweak an idea or plan slightly, but without a road map, a clear vision of where you are and where you want to go, it will be difficult to evaluate and therefore determine if you need to continue on or alter your plan or goals.

One of the keys in using this approach is to first make sure your goals are realistic. For example, wanting to run in a marathon sounds great but do you really understand what it’s going to take to get there? Setting realistic short term goals and evaluating where you are on a regular basis will help to see where you’re at and what changes you need to make to help you accomplish your goal or perhaps modify it. While I am all for setting goals, I believe we have to be flexible with our goals. While you may eventually run in the Boston Marathon, perhaps you’ll discover along the way that running in a marathon is not that important, but designing better running shoes is really what floats your boat. We need to understand that our goals are not set in stone, and that we can, and sometimes need to change them along the way.

As the one constant in life is change, so it should be with our goals and choices. While persistence is a desire to be cultivated, we also need to understand that we can sometimes stay with something far too long. We need to evaluate our goals from time to time to see if we’re on the right track, or possibly going in a direction that will lead us to a dead end or perhaps even worse.

Source by Bob Mathers

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