Driving to a Place Called Persistence


By Dawn Onley

Can you imagine heading out in your car for a family vacation, driving a few hours and then turning around to come back home because it took too long to get there?

You wouldn’t do that, right? That’d be nuts!

But actually, I’d bet you have done this before. We all have at some point. With our goals. We’ve started out happy and hopeful with a full tank of gas, and then stopped short of our destination. Depleted. Instead of the kids, it was us whining “are we there yet?

We need to get back in that car and keep driving to a place called Persistence.

It can be a loooooong drive, but it takes us to a beautiful place.

Over the long haul, the dogged and steadfast pursuit of our goals is what makes the difference. Persistence is what allows us to save enough money to buy a home or put away a nest egg. It is what allows us to turn around a negative health diagnosis by committing to healthier life choices. It’s what forces us to make one more call, to follow up with one more email, to handle life’s rejections and to overcome life’s challenges.


It’s never the things we do once in a blue moon, or when the mood strikes that yield the greatest reward. It’s the grunt work that is done by routine or through diligence, that may not seem like a lot from day to day, but after awhile, those little moves add up to huge results. It’s in the blood, sweat and tears of our journey.

It’s forcing myself to write each day, even when I don’t have much to say.

It’s reading a few chapters of a book each night until the book is completed.

It’s doing away with soda and potato chips to reach a fitness goal.

It’s practicing an instrument a little bit each day, until you can play the song flawlessly.

It’s learning a few words, and then a few phrases, and then immersing yourself until you have learned a whole new language.

It’s walking one mile … than two … than three and four.


“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence,” according to Calvin Coolidge. “Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated failures. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

It’s also keeping our energy levels and enthusiasm up so that we don’t lose momentum, even when facing formidable odds. “Energy and persistence conquer all things,” according to Benjamin Franklin. Energy and persistence go hand in hand.  We need both to get results.


Maintaining persistence is largely a mental thing. It’s easy to get angry, frustrated or bored when it takes too long to see the fruit of our effort. It’s normally here where we lose the drive and give up. But silence the negative noise in your own head. Work on building up your mental game. Keep pushing. Don’t let anybody or anything stand in your way.

You could be so close to unraveling the answer. To finishing up your degree. To finding your first client. To launching your business. To meeting the love of your life. To discovering your life purpose. To realizing your calling.

Don’t give up!

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up,” said Thomas Edison.

There is probably not a single attribute one person can possess that is as important to achieving success or getting results as persistence.

It takes discipline to be persistent. It also takes vision, courage, and delayed gratification. This last point is important because we are living in a time where everyone wants to see the end result pronto without putting in the effort. We want to lose weight fast, without changing how we eat and exercise. We want financial security, but can’t discipline ourselves enough to forego the $5.00 Starbucks run, 5 days a week. We want to jump into deep waters and instantly learn how to swim.

In other words, we want to eat the elephant in one setting and when that proves impossible, we get frustrated and decide to dine on something different altogether.

Persistence is eating the elephant one bite at a time. It is putting in the work. It is celebrating the small steps that it takes to accomplish our goals. It’s being steadfast and resilient. It’s being resistant to anything that stands in the way.

It’s the way to hike mountains (and move them). It’s the way to conquer our fears. And it’s the way to realize our dreams.

When we are persistent, things have to change.

We have to get to our destination, eventually.

No, we’re not there yet. But we will arrive if we stay persistent. Get back in the car and keep driving!


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