When I heard author Sue Monk Kidd speak in Greenville, SC at Furman University, she answered this question at the end of her presentation, “Do you have any advice for someone who wants to get published?”
“I’ve never known a writer who wanted to be published who didn’t eventually meet their goal as long as they kept writing, as long as they persisted,” said Kidd.
While reading Michael Hyatt’s blog post about persistence, How to Develop the One Trait Essential for Success, I thought about sharing his information along with what I heard at Furman with the group Women in Networking. I sometimes present the thought for the day at our meetings like I did in June. After the presentation, a member and friend encouraged me to blog about it, so here it is.
Even though persistence is easy to suggest and maybe even cliché like “hang in there,” there are plenty of “messy middles” when tasks get hard, what’s at hand seems overwhelming, and giving up makes more sense than keeping on.
Hyatt’s six tricks to persisting through messy middles are below. I included personal insights.
- Set goals. Hyatt says to break down BIG projects into small chunks. For me, this means I don’t set out to write a book by next year. Instead, I set a much smaller and more manageable goal like writing 2,000 words today. He typically reminds us to write down our goals.
- Keep the end in mind. I read somewhere on Hyatt’s blog that while writing his seventh book, he wanted to give up – the same temptation he had during the messy middle of every book. He’d learned by then, though, to look at the bigger picture, to reassess the bigger goal. This sounds contradictory to number one, but it’s not. The idea is to accomplish a big dream (keep the end in mind), one small chunk at a time.
- Improve your pace and renew your enthusiasm. Now, that’s an easy trick to follow when you’re smack dab in a messy middle, and feeling overwhelmed and discouraged, right? (Imagine this typed in sarcasm font.) How do you turn the urge to give up into an improved pace, much less enthusiasm? In another post, Hyatt said something like, “Reconnect with your why.”
In a workshop presented this week, friend and colleague Summer Turner said, “Figure out who your customer is, what they need, and what you have to offer them. This purpose renews your enthusiasm.”
During today’s meeting of Women in Networking, our president Anjana Duff suggested something like this, “Gratitude, though not a natural response during messy middles, helps us refocus on inspired action and regain enthusiasm.”
Hopefully one of these ideas will prod us along and refuel our enthusiasm.
- Run and walk. This trick is about pacing ourselves. I can attest that running hard and fast lands us in a place of reacting (like saying “yes” to opportunities we don’t want) rather than taking action toward our goals. It’s best sometimes to rest, to make time for recreation, and to reevaluate our direction.
For nearly two years, I wrote at least seven articles a week, often more. I took every assignment offered including a how-to blog post about starting a lawn mower after it sits idle throughout the winter, one about the best mousetraps on the market (don’t ask, I don’t remember), and another about eliminating squirrels from the attic. Speaking of squirrels …
- Kill the distractions. Distractions run rampant like squirrels … oh, look, a tree. Oh, a nut. Oh, a car to run in front of. Oh, the same car to run back in front of since it didn’t hit me the first time. It’s easier to avoid being distracted when we’re clear about our purpose. To say no to small distractions, we have to be committed to a bigger yes.
- Change your self image. Hyatt says, “The most important trick for getting more persistent is to see ourselves as persistent people.” Norman Vincent Peale said something similar, “Change your thoughts and you change your world.”
I appreciate comments and your insights about persistence. I ended the presentation with this quote by John Maxwell.
“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret to success is found in your daily routine.”