Aka, “Stick to it”
Aka, “Stick with it
Aka, “Stick in there.”
As a Gen-Xer, I come from a commitment-averse generation.
1. Because of our instant gratification culture, we’re impatient.
2. Because of our privileged upbringing, we developed a mediocre work ethic.
3. Because of our self-reliant, entrepreneurial bent, we don’t offer loyalty easily.
4. Because of our abundance of choices, we’re quick to quit and pursue something better.
No wonder we can’t stick with anything for very long.
From college majors to new jobs to romantic relationships, stick-to-itiveness isn’t exactly our forte.
THE GOOD NEWS IS: Stick-to-itiveness can be learned.
All you have to do is shift your attitude completely – work hard, smart and long while nobody notices – and design a daily practice of self-determination and commitment.
Hey. I said it could be learned – not that it was easy.
Up to the challenge?
Cool. Consider these ideas as stick-to-itiveness training from someone who, literally, makes a living “sticking to it” every day:
1. Engage your why. Then work like hell to keep it alive. Otherwise you’ll collapse in existential agony. Good luck executing from that position. Truth is: Failure to communicate why is a diamond-studded path to self-doubt.
On the other hand, people tend to cultivate their capabilities in activities that give them a sense of self-worth, according to Bandura’s book, Self-Efficacy. Remember: The thrust of your ultimate endeavors predicts the threshold of your eventual success. When will mattering trump money?
2. The road to mastery is marked by periods of minimal progress. The world is not arranging itself for your convenience. Nor is the world is waiting breathlessly to hear what you have to say. So, enjoy your plateaus. Celebrate small gains.
Run in place today to cross the finish line tomorrow. That’s the level of patience required to make a name for yourself. How long are you willing to do it before the right people notice?
3. Zero out your board. Have recovery strategies ready. This suggestion comes from The Power of Full Engagement, in which author Jim Loehr suggested:
“The rhythmic movement between energy expenditure and energy recovery is called oscillation. This is the optimal cycle for sustaining high performance consistently.”
How are you making recovery part of your regiment?
4. Resistance either creates or compresses stamina. Against the backdrop of seeming hopelessness, stamina is hard. Especially the stamina to recover rapidly from disappointment. A helpful question I ask myself is, “Is this being done to me or for me?”
With an attitude of leverage, positivity and growth, the answer is always “for me.” Just learn the lesson, let go of the emotion and get your ass out of there. See this as a workout for becoming wiser. What could make this experience easier?
5. Commit to a long-term process of education. My friend @ChadMoves is a movement educator. He once told me, “You only age if you choose not to use your body.” In the same vein, you only fade away if you choose not to use, develop and preserve your brain.
Here’s a simple exercise: Each day, do and document one concrete activity that made you a better thinker. Every month, review your log with a friend who’s doing the same. You’ll become a smokin’ hot piece of brain candy in no time. How are you creating an environment where lifelong learning stressed?
6. Curb your craving for certainty. Sure, it would be nice to have firm footing. But the sooner you learn to live without (always) knowing how, the longer you ultimately last. As I learned in The Having of Wonderful Ideas:
“We all need adequate time for our confusion if we are to build the breadth and depth that give significance to our knowledge.”
Are much money is your intolerance of ambiguity costing you?
7. Create a sustainable circle of support. It’s called the long haul for a reason. Whether it’s a long-distance relationship, a new career, or an outside-of-work creative pursuit, sticking with anything is never a one-man show. More like a chorus line.
Here are the people you need to keep: Family (because they aren’t going away), Friends (the ones you can call at 2am), Mentors (who will gladly slap you on the back of the head) and Spouses/Partners (since they’re riding shotgun). Who (aren’t) you currently surrounding yourself with that can help sustain you?
8. It’s not about avoiding ruts. Instead, it’s about developing the self-awareness to know when you’re in a rut, understanding the thinking patterns that got you into it, and then strategizing how to get yourself out of that rut quickly.
It all depends on how you explain the rut to yourself. And while this process requires a tremendous amount of emotional effort, your willingness to expend it will help you bounce back impressively. How are you sharpening your rut-fighting skills?
9. Persevere through the low. Yes, peaks follow valleys. But recessions renew resourcefulness. As Nicholas Cage taught me in Bangkok Dangerous, “The best way to defend yourself is to know when something is about to happen.” If you spot a valley on the horizon, write an action plan for how to leverage it.
That’s exactly how I thrived (and how my company thrived) during the Great Recession. If you want to do the same, remember these ideas: Accept what is. Leverage your downtime. Keep support flowing. Stir the pot. Befriend the current. Use every crisis. Foster a pervasive tone of gratitude. Double your dosage of daily inspiration. And keep pulling your triggers for joy.
Even when thee economy sucks, your economy can still rock. How will you traverse the tough times?
REMEMBER: It takes guts to stick yourself out there – but it takes gusto to keep yourself out there.
Read part two of this piece here!
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What’s your secret for sticking with it?
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor
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