The Power of Persistence

To be persistent, it is essential to develop an attitude toward persistence that supports persistence. That’s a lot of persistence!

The Importance of Persistence

If you study human motivation, you know that everything we do is generated by our attitudes. Our attitudes, by definition, are habits of thought. It is the way we think about persistence that determines if and how well a big job gets done.

In some ways the opposite of persistence is procrastination. Many people find it hard to get started on any job, especially a big one, so they just keep putting it off. Consequently, because they never start, they never have an opportunity to discover the power of persistence.

The good news is that a habit of persistence in our work, including our financial activities, can be developed. It is a matter of learning how.

How Persistence is Developed

When we work with small children we first try to get them to stay at a job for five minutes, then ten, then an hour. Our hope is that by the time they are grown they will be able to stick it out for eight hours a day or so, so they can earn a living.

This is the best way to develop a persistent attitude toward our financial affairs. We can develop a persistent attitude by consciously practicing it on shorter term projects and then build up the size of jobs until it becomes second nature to be persistent at every thing we do.

The word “consciously ”is an important one. We want to be aware of what we are doing. We are training our minds to be aware of the fact that consistent work on any project pays off big time in the end. And that a persistent attitude is the key to consistency.


For our purposes we want to apply this to financial goals. For example, save up for your next appliance before saving up for your next car. Pay off your credit cards before paying off your house.

Keep increasing the size and time involvement of your projects. The longer the time and the larger the commitment, the greater persistence that will be required.

How Persistence Works in Real Life

The idea is not to do it fast, but to do a consistent amount of work over time. We want to extend the amount of time involved with each experience. One of our most important goals is to develop persistent attitudes toward our major financial interests. We need to experience short term, less challenging persistence before it is available for big ones.

Equally important, we want to learn to be consistent and persistent for longer and longer periods of time until we are capable of working effectively on a given goal for years.

One of the secrets to getting a big job done is to break it up into parts and take on one at a time. You have heard the old saying that by the yard it may be hard but inch by inch anything is a cinch.

After you break a job into manageable parts, you still have to focus on the individual parts. This is where practice makes perfect. (I think we are on a roll now, with a goal of seeing how many cliches we can pack into one article!) But we are about to see how persistence pays off and the power of persistence can be experienced.

We need to be consistent in paying off our credit cards every month, in saving up for major purchases like appliances or vehicles, and in making significant long term investments for our future—even retirement—every month for years. Only by cultivating an attitude that supports persistence can we effectively do these things.

Discover the Power of Persistence

Take time right now to evaluate your own situation and determine your next focal point for increasing your persistence in financial matters. Whatever your largest, recent accomplishment, select a new one slightly larger and requiring a longer time commitment. Then lay out your plan and get started.

Plan now to keep repeating this process, congratulating yourself occasionally for your growing ability for persistent work, until consistent work on all your goals is automatically maintained with ease. In this way you will experience the power of persistence for yourself.