How Do You Choose to Persevere with Life’s Obstacles?

perservere leaf image“If all else fails, perseverance prevails.”

This anonymous quote is important to keep in mind, especially those days when you’ve had yet another interview turndown or your job search is not going as you had hoped. We often default to feeling failure, no doubt because our society is especially unforgiving and judgmental when it comes to failing. From as early as many of us can remember, parents, teachers, coaches, and others would reward you when you succeeded. If you failed, how were you treated?

While it was far from failing, I can remember getting a “B” grade in an elementary school subject. When my father reviewed my report card with me, which incidentally had all A’s and one B, he immediately focused on the B and said, “A ‘B’ is a good grade, but you can do better.”

The fact that I remember to this day what my father said about that one grade can be viewed as evidence of lingering hurt. Yet I believe the main reason I remember it is because it motivated me to work harder. I can’t help but think how other children would react if they heard the same message about a good grade. Some kids would undoubtedly find it motivating, while others may find it hurtful, disappointing and perhaps de-motivating.

No matter your age, you have a choice in how you process “negative” thoughts. Try the   following exercise if you are interested in changing negative thoughts. Start by writing down the negative thoughts you hear. Then write down how you reacted to these thoughts. Next, place a positive sign next to it if you chose to see it as a motivator. A negative sign would be placed if you chose to process it as a de-motivator.

For example, your boss says “You are behind schedule again” and proceeds to tell you that you are now placed on a performance improvement plan. If you feel motivated enough to catch up, how did you process your boss’s statement in a way that drove you to persevere? What did you tell yourself? Alternatively, if you said to yourself, “I can’t meet my boss’s high expectations,” search within yourself as to what is keeping you from meeting her/his needs. Are the boss’s expectations clearly unrealistic, or are you perhaps burned out in your job and simply not performing to the degree to which you did in the past?

Or let’s imagine you made it to the final job interview and are among three candidates a hiring manager is considering. If you are not offered the position, do you focus on how proud you are to have made it that far or do you feel rejected in not having received a job offer? Which thought is healthier for you to persevere?

Continue to monitor your thoughts for at least one week. It might be surprising to you how many of your thoughts are negative. If you find you are unable to shift your negative thoughts to more positive ones, or have an overwhelming number of negative thoughts, consider meeting with a counselor for assistance in overcoming negative quote

Instead of a constant “inner critic” that keeps us from reaching our goals, consider individuals who appear to have an “inner champion” that keeps them going no matter what the circumstances. How often do we meet someone like Abraham Lincoln?

Lincoln ran for office six times and was defeated every time. When he ran for President, attempt number seven, he was elected President. Whatever drove him to succeed, the fact is that humans have the capacity to persevere. In being conscious about not allowing negative experiences to keep us from succeeding, we become stronger. No matter how large or small the accomplishment may seem, this strength will serve you well in revealing more of your innate self.

andreaking482014Andrea Killion, MS, NCC, MCC
Careerful Counseling Services

Andrea assists clients in successfully achieving rewarding employment. She works with a diverse array of adults from all industries, backgrounds and stages. Whether you are looking for work, trying to figure out what career to pursue, or unsure whether to stay in your current position, Andrea can assist you with these issues and more.



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