Perseverance is the ability to keep going, to put one foot in front of the other, to envision a goal and head towards it. It is to follow your arrow regardless of circumstance or obstacle or self-imposed roadblocks. It is being true to yourself, your purpose and belief in yourself.
It sounds so easy but we all know that perseverance's worst friends are procrastination and doubt. I have had plenty of experience with all three. To me, perseverance is like a long and winding road with bursts of energy, self-directed forward motion and the occasional pothole of inactivity and doubt. Committing to a goal and then finding your way towards that goal is the only way that you will feel the power and joy of achievement.
I recently wrote a book, and it took me one year from the day I started writing to the day I finished. People always want to know how long it took me to write the book. I tell them it took me six months, within that year period, to write the book, and six months for me to believe that I could. I discovered that I was completely invested in the writing of this book and what being "all in" meant. I also finally got tired of the exhausting and crippling self-doubt. I set nothing else but that one goal. And every day I moved a little bit closer to completion until one day I finished. Perseverance!
I told myself that I was procrastinating throughout the process, but in reality, I was waiting for new information, new statistics, new ways of communicating that I would never have achieved without the time I invested. I agree completely with the saying that everything comes in the time it is meant to. Of course, you need to be participating completely.
Our self-struggle can make us stronger, smarter and able to see more clearly what we are trying to accomplish. If we do not question what we are trying to do, then how do we ever know the right answers? How do we ever see in ourselves the path we are trying to take? In trying to silence our own critic, we defend our ideas and goals and we become more empowered and more determined to move forward.
How we define success is also important. We need to create a deeply personal relationship to success. We must be proud of every accomplishment - every step you take, every move you make - is a moment to be appreciated and celebrated. What I define as success, simply, is the accomplishment of something different. A new job, volunteer role, exercise program, recipe, way of thinking... are all forms of success. When we take time to congratulate ourselves, it allows us to move forward, to take the next step, the next action, the next challenge. Success becomes less frightening. Success becomes our friend.
It sounds easy, of course, but it is not. It is hard work and constant self-talk about how your accomplishments matter. It requires being present and deflecting wasteful mind conversations about yourself or other people. It requires a basic belief in yourself that is most important. You must find your self-belief and hold on to it. Finding your self-belief or your self-value is like panning for gold; time-consuming and hard to find, but what a treasure it is when you do find it.
Everything comes back to perseverance. It really is the number one trait for success, absolutely. You can be smart, or extremely talented, or common-sense-savvy, but without the push of perseverance it doesn't matter. Perseverance gives us the ability to see our dreams become reality.
Surround yourself with people who are working their dreams to reality. Those who are persevering. Uplift each other and encourage each other to succeed, to dream big and achieve. Elevate each other to achieve.
And when you accomplish what you are working towards, you can say to yourself with a big smile, "Here I am - I believed - I persevered".
(This was originally posted on MariaShriver.com)