How to Persist When You Really Want to Quit

There will always be those times when you feel as though you cannot go on.  Times when things will seem too hard and impossible to overcome.  But deep down there is something in you that still really wants to go on.  There is still the desire to accomplish your dream, goal, or plan.


But how do you do it?  How do you look at your failures, mistakes, and disappointments and turn them into results, achievements, and accomplishments?  How do you turn the feeling of loss and defeat into one of victory?  All great questions that I will answer in this article.

Handling Failures and Mistakes


On my post Bounce Back From Failure I talked about changing the word “failure” into the word “setback”.  This is something that took some time for me to do, but I’ve learned to adopt it as a major philosophy in my life.

The world is hard on mistakes and failures.  Especially when you are trying to do something great.  Most people would rather focus on your mistakes and failures than acknowledge their own shortcomings and weaknesses.

I have screwed up many on my journey to accomplishment so, trust me, I know how bad it feels to make a mistake.  The one thing I learned is that I had a choice of what I did with those mistakes and setbacks.  I could either let it get to me and determine who I am, or I could use it to learn more about myself, how I operate, and how to do things right.  I choose the second option.

I have learned to not let my setbacks define me; I have learned to let them educate and motivate me.  This mindset has made it easier for me to persist in just about any situation.  My mindset of not giving up did not come over night.  I have had many experiences that have taught me that if I can just hang on for a little bit longer, I can turn my situation around.

Many years ago, when I first began to set big goals, I wasn’t really sure how to go about reaching lofty accomplishments.  I bought a composition book where I could write down my goals so that I would know when they were accomplished.

If you’ve ever read anything about reaching your goals, the author probably mentioned that writing them down will make them happen.  Well, I did that and it didn’t happen.  I have pages and pages of goals with the word “failed” on them.

I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to give up.  I even told myself so many times that I was not going to try again.  But something in me would not quit.  So I tried again, and again, and again.  And I failed, again, again, and again.

Even though I was failing miserably from week to week, I began to notice that I was improving in each area even though I was not where I thought I would be.  Those little improvements were enough to motivate me to keep going.  I knew that if I kept going forward I would eventually accomplish those goals.

Then the sky opened up!  All of the hard work, focus, and persistence paid off in abundance.  I began to accomplish things at an astonishing rate.  Pretty soon the mistakes and failures that haunted me in the past were a distant memory.  Now I sometimes wonder where I would be if I’d allowed myself to quit.


How to Persist


Become a Fighter

This topic is extensive enough to be its own post.  I can’t explain to you how important it is for you to become a fighter.  People who persist are people who have a fighting spirit.  Becoming a fighter means that you do not let situation and circumstances push you around.  It means that you are not a victim of the things that happen to you.

Take one day to monitor how much of a fighter you are.  From the moment you get up, watch everything that happens to you.  When you wake up in the morning, how do you handle the little things that get in the way of what your intentions are?

Do you let the fact that you don’t have any fruit in your home cause you to destroy your diet because McDonald’s is right down the street and is more convenient, or do you go out of your way to find something healthier for you?

The next day, fight for everything that you want that day.  If there is anything that gets in your way, ask yourself is there any possible way to go around it.  If there is, attempt to go around, through or over the obstacle.  Over time you will realize that those obstacles that enter your life are made to be overcome.

Having a fighting spirit means that you don’t accept the things that happen to you.  Instead, you react in a way that combats those things so that you can get the results you want.  Fight for the things that are valuable to you and you will learn to press on – no matter what.


The Sun Will Rise and Set Tomorrow

No matter how bad you messed up, and no matter badly your failure set you back, there is one thing that is for sure: The sun will come up tomorrow morning and it will set tomorrow night.  There will be a tomorrow.  If your eyes open in the morning, you will be responsible for what you do with that tomorrow.

My belief is that there are very few things that will have a long lasting effect.  If you fail today, it may not matter 30 years from now.  Chances are, nobody is going to care that you made a mistake or came up short.  Even though today it may seem like the end of the world, it really isn’t.  Tomorrow will come and will present a new opportunity for you.

When the feeling of quitting becomes too much for you to handle, think about the possibilities tomorrow, next week, or next month will bring.  Today might feel like the worst day of your life, but something incredible may be waiting for you a week from now.


Tap Into Your Emotions

Emotions are pretty powerful when it comes to persistence.  How you feel about something can determine your actions toward that thing.  We are more likely to move forward with something if it stirs us emotionally.  You are more likely to continue to do something if it excites you, brings you joy or fulfillment.  You are also less likely to do something if it frightens or hurts you.

And, let’s face it, most people don’t like to be afraid or in pain.  If you want to learn to persist, tap into the emotion that will cause you to act.  Whether it’s fear, joy, or a sense of accomplishment, use that emotion as fuel to keep going.


Find People Who Persist

You’ve actually started this already and you may not even know it.  Through my trial and error I have built an extremely persistent mindset.  Subscribe or join me on Facebook to stay current with me and this blog.  I love writing and posting about topics related to persistence and perseverance.

You may think it’s impossible to find strangers that will tell you their stories of persistence, but I do it all the time.  I really do believe that if you seek, you will find.  Begin to converse with strangers, co-workers, or even bosses that may have an encouraging message of persistence.  Take those examples and add them to your life.


Go One Step Further

Now it’s time for me to challenge you.

  1. If you’ve decided that you would like to continue on and persist towards what you want, I would like you to choose one of the above points that you would like to add to your skill set.
  2. Then bookmark/save/print this post along with Bounce Back From Failureso that you can view it frequently.
  3. Tell someone about your decision to persist and share with them what you’ve learned in this post. Make sure it is someone who will encourage you and support you in your decision.
  4. Do one thing per day that builds courage for 30 days.  That action will depend on what you fear.
  5. Do one thing per day that excites you for 30 days.
  6. At the end of the 30 days you will find that the combination of overriding fear and pursuing excitement has made your drive and desire stronger.

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  • Danieltheteacher

    “My  kingdom  for  a  pencil.”
    Sometimes  I  can’t  find  the  hammer,  or  a  simple  pencil.. so  I  STOP  and  talk  to my  God (meditate)  and  then  I  attempt  to do the “will of the Father”   meaning  I  do  something else, like mopping the floor.  Finally  I  rejoice  an  hour  later  or  hours  later  when  I  overcome  that pencil – obstacle.

  • ralphjp

    Good stuff!  Very inspirational!  Thanks for sharing!

  • Charles Juracsik

    Again another great post to reflect upon.  Thank you for the words of encouragement.  Keep it going strong.  In this new economy we all have to do things we did not do in the past, but must do to be better people and better ourselves and family.

  • ralphjp

    Thanks so much!  You’re right, its a different world now.  Doing things differently is necessary but there will be great rewards for those who can persist.  Thanks again for the feedback!

  • Rick Noel, eBiz ROI, Inc.

    Solid advice Ralph. It kind of reminds me of one of my favorite Ben Franklin quotes “I didn’t just fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong.” Winners learn from their mistakes and move forward. 

  • ralphjp

    Thanks Rick!  I love that quote by Franklin too.

  • MELISASource

    These are some very empowering points. It can be so very easy to get caught up in the emotions of failing that you forget that as long as you are still breathing, there is always another chance. And yes I totally agree it’s so important to learn to become a fighter in life and to find others to inspire you during your fight. Great advice! 

  • ralphjp

    Thanks so much!  Learning to be a fighter in life has really paid off for me.  We all have some fight in us.  We just need to bring it out when times get tough.

  • Dilanka

    Hey Ralph:

    I love the post — I really do – but it makes me wonder…..Do you think there’s a certain genetic (ala built in) element to persistence? As in, there are plenty of people who “know what to do” – yet never do and vice versa. 

    Maybe it’s just nature for the proverbial “shit to hit the fan” so you are forced to pick which side you want to play for.


  • ralphjp

    You bring up an interesting point, Dilanka.  I think persistence is ingrained in everyone.  However, the level of persistence and how people channel that trait differs greatly.

    There are many people who need to be backed into a corner in order to make the decision to fight through obstacles.  There are also people who will persist at even the smallest challenge just because that is the way they operate.

    I’ve been reading a lot about the “nature vs nurture” arguments recently.  Most studies agree that even though someone might be born with a trait, it does not mean they will maximize or even retain that trait as they grow and mature.

    The most important part is developing and practicing that ability in order to really make the most of it.  Thanks for the insightful comment!!

  • Henri

    Great post. I’m actually going to pdf it and keep an eye on it every day for 30 days. 
    I like the idea to start with simple courageous actions and then move on to a higher  level. 
    Inspiring. You make things sounds so obvious. 

  • ralphjp

    Thanks!  I’m so glad that you’re inspired to take action.  Let me know how things go.