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Persistence takes being in motion – it is what is needed to keep moving toward your goals, even when obstacles stand in your way.

However, persistence does not need to be like running a marathon without water stops along the way. There are two types of persistence: continuous and episodic. Continuous persistence is maintaining your focus on a goal, even when challenges, roadblocks, or distractions appear in your daily life. Episodic persistence is when you return to your goal after a break, work toward it, and then take another break. You can complete the marathon all at once or over a month. You will cover the same distance but in a different way. Which way is more effective? It depends on your unique goal.

What blocks your persistence?

Some people are more persistent than others.  What makes the difference is that they tend to be persistent more often. Essentially, the more they engage in being persistent, the more persistent they become. Research also shows three aspects of being a persistent person: persistence despite difficulties, fear, and ineffective persistence when a person continues to work toward goals that are not likely to be achieved. The first two aspects of persistence are associated with being more effective and indicate better psychological well-being. At the same time, the third is ineffective and leads to “spinning one’s wheels while getting nowhere.”

How To Support Your Needs

Being able to choose when to persist – and stop persisting – is an essential skill that helps regulate your system so you can achieve both your goals and maintain your well-being at the same time. Without persistence, it would be challenging to achieve your goals because motivation waxes and wanes, and persistence is what fills the gap to keep you on track!

Think about getting your professional career off the ground. There is that time when you are a new graduate, your start date is set, and you are doing everything to prepare. You have invested in your professional wardrobe and have your favorite outfit picked out for your first day. With all of the years of study, you got to this point. Paper after paper, mid-terms, finals, resumes and interviews. It takes much sticking to it to get it done – persistence to get to the starting line.

Persistence motivates you to learn what you need to know to be a competent person. If you had persistence, you would be where you are today. Evolutionary biology shows us that most species have an innate ability to persist with complex developmental tasks so that they survive. Learning how to accomplish basic human tasks, such as learning your language or controlling and moving your body, takes endless practice. The more complex the task, the more time, effort, and persistence are needed.

One of the most exciting things about persistence is how it enhances our perspective on working hard toward and achieving goals – mainly that it feels good when you work hard and accomplish what you want. The benefit of feeling good is what often fuels the drive to persist.

Amplifying Persistence


Persistence is a crucial ingredient of creativity. It can be divided into flexibility and persistence. The best persistence is the kind that allows you to commit to your creative ideas and push their boundaries enough to realize their full potential.


The data shows that persistence is part of academic and professional achievements over time. A critical study showed that students who persistently worked at tasks at 13 years old predicted their grades at age 16, their level of education as an adult, their income level, and the respect they are in their jobs as adults. This study shows that it is not only intelligence that leads to success. Success also depends on the ability of the individual to focus effort over time to accomplish their goal.


Another interesting study showed that when being around someone who embodies persistence fosters persistence in yourself. In this study, people engaged in a task that required lots of self-control after they saw others performing the same task. What made the difference is that they persisted longer when they viewed an image of a person they perceived to be very persistent.


Persistence also means avoiding additional effort and losing time and energy to reach goals. In this sense, more persistent people may suffer a loss of resources as they refuse to give up on a task; this makes them more likely to achieve what other people do not but also more likely to face the consequences of failing where a less persistent person would have given up sooner.​

Summing up

Often, getting your needs met requires persistence. When something is important to you, persistence is often how you achieve meaningful, life-changing things.