Judging from Merriam-Webster’s definition, stick-to-itiveness isn’t for the feint-hearted.
In fact, the very word’s definition conjures up images of someone sweating it out, battling an uphill climb, and gritting his or her teeth despite the voice inside their head saying, “Just give up already; it’ll be a lot easier on you.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m like a dog with a bone with a lot of things. Tell me I can’t do something and I’ll set out to prove you wrong. Hint that I’m not made of tougher stuff and I’ll bear down harder than I was before. Insinuate that I need to learn more, and I sure as hell will.
In a lot of ways, that’s probably a sign of stick-to-itiveness. Or being a control freak. I guess it all depends on how you look at it.
I often wonder what prompts people to give up what they’ve started. Fatigue? Frustration? Just plain old sick of trying whatever it was they were trying to do? Thomas Edison once said, “The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.” If anyone should know what the word means, it’s gotta be him. Because he didn’t give up at all.
But knowing when to stick with something or just give it up can be a fine line, don’t you think? I was ready to give up on this week’s blog. I wasn’t in the mood to write it (in fact, I’m still not in the mood to write it), but yet here I am plucking away at each word. Taking those little steps, one by one, can make a big difference. It can turn a daunting task into a manageable one, or a pain in the butt one into something a little less annoying.
Go ahead. I’ll wait while you digest it.
Pretty neat stuff, huh?
This is how I feel about my writing. There are days I feel like total crap, like nothing creative will ever come out of my brain, and yet I sit down and let the words flow. They’re not always great words — in fact, if my mood is crap odds are the words will be crap, too — but you know what? I stick to it because I love writing with a passion I don’t feel for anything else.
Which kinda makes the whole process a lot more appealing.
But what about those situations or jobs you have to do but don’t want to complete? Here are some ideas to help your stick-to-itiveness get a little stickier:
- There are going to be days where you fall behind or slip up; allow yourself those moments. They mean you’re human, and giving yourself that breathing room will recharge your batteries eventually.
- Learn patience. Nothing great, small, or in between ever happened overnight. And while having deadlines and goals are good things, they don’t always have to be set in stone. Rigidity will, most often, only cause stress. Be gentle on yourself while you strive to move ahead.
- Stay focused. If you need to close a door and shut out the rest of the world for a while, do it. And try not to feel guilty for it. You’re going to open up that door and let real life back in again at some point anyway.
- Plunge in. Feeling boxed in? Non-creative? Like your ideas and goals aren’t getting anywhere? Then don’t plan. Just dive in and do whatever it is you need or want to do. In time, you’ll find your groove and that boxed in feeling will disappear and your goals will come back into view.
- Unplug. This is a biggie. And often hard to do in our tech-oriented society. But do it. Give up the Internet, your smart phone, your social media. Shut everything down for a morning or afternoon and just be you. Alone.
- Stop multi-tasking. Mostly because there’s no such thing as multi-tasking anyway. Seriously. Can you really read email while listening to a conference call on the phone and fully digest both at the same time? Uh, no. You can’t. So do one thing at a time and do it well. Then move onto the next.
So there you have it. A post I didn’t want to write but that I finished anyway because I followed some of my own advice and rediscovered my stick-to-itiveness.
And for those still struggling, hopefully it’ll help you, too.
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