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by Kimberly Lloyd

September 3, 2013

Without perseverance, setting goals is a waste of time.

Steadfast Pursuit of the Goal

What makes some people winners time after time, while others seem to fall short just as often, or at best, get lucky once in a while? In the recipe for success, a properly set goal is one key ingredient. The other is perseverance—the steadfast pursuit of that goal and a stubborn refusal to accept defeat. Perseverance is a trait that springs directly from attitude. Perseverance is about self-confidence, self-respect, and self-control. It’s about loyalty, integrity, and honor. Without perseverance, setting goals is a waste of time. With it, the sky’s the limit. The good news is that perseverance is a priceless skill that can be developed through continual study and practice.

It is important to understand the difference between “being determined to win” no matter what and “staying the course” no matter what. Sometimes it’s necessary to change the course, to find an alternate route on our road map to victory. Very simply: some obstacles we go over, some obstacles we go around.

Perseverance means sticking to the goal, not necessarily to the original plan. In fact, it is prudent, wise, useful, and sometimes critical to have or make a Plan B. Circumstances change, and as they do, we must adapt to persevere and reach our goals.

Perseverance is tried by the frustrations of our mistakes. No one likes to err, of course, but mistakes are also opportunities. As such, it is wasteful not to learn from them, and this, too, is an aspect of perseverance: accepting setbacks and resolving not to repeat them.

Perseverance is tested as well by the shame and humiliation mistakes naturally cause us to feel. Here again: accepting setbacks, forgiving yourself, learning from the experience, and getting back in the saddle are at the core of this uniquely valuable life skill. Many mistakes can be avoided with knowledge proffered by books, videos, and of course, our coaches. However, the hard-learned lessons of our personal experiences are often the most memorable, particularly as we persevere and succeed. Not despite our mistakes, but because of them.

Sometimes we may be tempted to quit. We get discouraged, start having doubts, and that’s when our self-talk (attitude) turns negative. So it’s important to keep a positive attitude and persevere. The recipe for success is not a secret:  Perseverance requires courage and patience. That’s why it is so important to have SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound) goals that are particularly motivating and relevant.

Managing Perseverance in Your Workouts

Here are some approaches to incorporating the concept of perseverance in your workouts.

  • During warm-up. Give yourself the mindset that the goal for today’s practice is to have a great workout. Think about it as an opportunity to learn to improve your skills.
  • During drill sets. Train hard, but with patience. The best techniques are achieved one stroke, one length, one set at a time. Quality is essential.
  • During cool-down. Abraham Lincoln once said: “A goal properly set is halfway met.” He lost seven elections before becoming one of our greatest presidents. Perseverance, it seems, is the other half of meeting our goals.


  • Technique and Training


  • Goal Setting
  • Mental Training