When my husband and I visited Egypt a few years ago, our itinerary included a climb up Mt. Sinai (7495 feet high). The goal was to reach the summit by sunset, which was not going to be an easy feat. Our group included three 30-somethings (the ages of our kids) so you can appreciate that even though we work out regularly, we did not have the ability to climb at quite the same speed. We told the guide to go on ahead with the others and followed at our own pace. We quickly realized that to meet our goal of arriving by sunset we needed to set small targets for the climb. We walked 100 steps and then paused for a short rest. We persisted, repeating the process for the entire climb. We even refused a camel ride along the way! Dogged determination kept us going.
Persistence is essential when you face what may seem like an insurmountable task, even if it is on your bucket list. These steps will help:
1. Make sure your WIIFMs (What’s in it for me) are strong enough. Understand why you want to do something. What’s the benefit? In Egypt, we wanted to finish the climb to show we could do it, to see the view, and, if we are honest, to avoid being beaten by the 30 year olds.
2. Set SMART goals:
- Specific – Climb Mt. Sinai
- Measurable – Get to the top
- Agreed Upon – We all agreed on the excursion
- Realistic – We believed it was achievable
- Target Date – Sunset
Although we had set a SMART goal, we had never climbed the mountain before and didn’t appreciate the degree of difficulty, the impact of the heat, or how fast the sun disappears. By the time we reached the last small incline, which might have taken fifteen minutes to complete, it was almost dark. The path was very steep and rocky, so for safety we chose to stop. A wise decision, as our younger companions had great difficulty descending in the dark. We had a beautiful view and a dramatic sunset. Instead of being disappointed we were happy with our achievement.
If you set yourself a challenging goal and don’t quite make it, always celebrate what you did do instead of beating yourself up for what you didn’t. This is an important lesson for leaders to learn – celebrate genuine effort that got results rather than always focusing on what went wrong.
3. Break the goal into small action steps or mini goals and celebrate many times along the way.
4. Ensure that you share the goal with those who can and do support you.
When you know what you want and WHY you want it, you can tap into your inner strength. Persistence does pay off.