The Importance of Perseverance

The Iceberg Illusion

In our life path, we often come across obstacles and can feel like giving up. However, I’ve found that positively reframing your thoughts and consistently working towards your goals help with feelings of defeat when things don’t go as planned.

What is Perseverance? 🤔

Perseverance means working towards something to achieve it despite the adversities that come our way.

My life is jam-packed with countless hurdles. One step forward often pushes me ten steps back — several setbacks, rejections, negativity, betrayal, toxicity, the list goes on. For instance, every time I set foot into a new venture, it is followed by a devastating event. I love playing the veena (an Indian classical string instrument). I was hoping to finally start the first of many examinations to become a certified musician. However, my instrument burned to ashes due to a fire incident. I haven’t been able to replace my instrument yet, and still review what I’ve learned by air playing — I pretend I have the instrument and move my fingers accordingly to pluck the strings. I will eventually replace my instrument, and I want to be ready to resume playing it. I won’t be letting these hardships knock me down, and neither should you.

🧗 Perseverance & Mental Health 🧠

Many psychological research studies found a link between perseverance and mental health. When we persistently work towards achieving our goals and tackle challenges with positivity, it lowers our risk of developing depression, generalized anxiety, and panic disorder. 

How So? 🧐

According to psychological research conducted by Zainal and Newman (2019), perseverance fosters a sense of purpose, which cultivates resilience. This resiliency, in turn, fights against and lowers the levels of depression, anxiety, and panic disorders. Discovering a silver lining amid a difficulty provides reassurance. We start to see meaningfulness in our lives and strive to work towards it. Notably, the research findings suggest that we can improve our mental health by increasing or upholding high levels of persistence, positivity, and resilience. When we work towards personal and career objectives, it can provide a feeling of purposefulness and value in our lives. Whereas not attempting to work towards our goals or having negative attitudes can significantly impact our mental health.

Improving Perseverance 🦋

According to Angela Lee Duckworth, a psychologist and author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (2016), there are four essential elements to improve our perseverance: 

Interest 💡

We need to identify what we are passionate about and work towards it. This may be difficult if we don’t step out of our comfort zone. We need to open ourselves to different experiences and learning opportunities to discover where our interests truly lie.

Practice 🎯

Just as we consistently practice improving our strengths, we should also acknowledge our weaknesses and work to sharpen them. Challenging ourselves and incorporating any feedback we receive in the process will help us evolve as a person.

Purpose 🌾

Knowing what purpose we aspire to serve will motivate us to make it happen. Do you want to work for a good cause? Do you want to help others? Whatever it is, let’s do it! For example, I meditate and read books and poetry on self-care and women empowerment. I self-reflect and keep a journal of my thoughts, which often reveals a pattern of aspirations and interests, helping me find my purpose.  

Hope 💫

We have to trust that all our efforts matter and will not go to waste. If we don’t believe in ourselves, who will?

Life Happens 😣

Bad situations force us to look at only the negatives, but if that’s what we focus on, that’s all we’ll see. I’ve found that breaking down your goals and taking one step at a time can go a long way. Remembering to go at your own pace and making sure you’re comfortable with your decisions is what matters most when dealing with difficult challenges and situations.

At times our challenges reveal unexpected opportunities that we might miss if we sit back to dwell on misfortunes. For example, in November 2020, my home caught on fire, leaving me and my family traumatized. I was also in the process of applying to jobs, as I had just graduated from university three months before. My email was filled with job rejections that made me feel worthless and incompetent. The only opportunity I had was Venture for Canada’s virtual selection event. No home, no internet, plus a lockdown due to COVID. I had no idea what to do. Luckily, I was able to arrange a place to attend the event. Everything racing through my head that day was inexplicable, but I wanted to use this opportunity wisely. One week after the event, I received an offer to the program. Amid many difficulties, this offer was a silver lining. I was more hopeful that everything will change for the better.

Nothing happens overnight, so don’t think you have to achieve everything right away. It isn’t easy. We have to learn to be flexible, so we can quickly adapt, even in worst-case scenarios.

My advice to you is to learn how to be patient, work hard, surround yourself with positive and uplifting people, and things will slowly work out for you. Practicing patience may sound tough. Some tips I would suggest are identifying your emotions when you feel impatient, reframing your perception of the situation, and focusing on the bigger picture. For example, due to health issues, I had a three-year setback immediately after my undergraduate degree. My dreams to pursue graduate studies came to a halt. External pressure and comparisons – the thieves of joy were looming over me. But I chose not to rush my path; I focused on healing and recovering. This setback was a lesson, a period for self-reflection, which directed me towards a business graduate program and now an entrepreneurial-focused fellowship where I’m meeting and learning from the best. Remember, we wouldn’t have lightbulbs if Thomas Edison gave up after one attempt; we wouldn’t have the Harry Potter series if J.K. Rowling gave up when many publishers rejected her novel. 

Improving perseverance and resilience is easier said than done. There are times when we simply can’t drive ourselves to have a positive outlook or fight against our adversities. When things get hard, please don’t ever hesitate to seek help. Whether it’s reaching out to a trusted friend, a loved one, or a professional, just know that there’s someone there to help you. Don’t feel like you have to fight everything on your own. 


Let’s work on improving ourselves, one small step at a time.


Mental Health Resources:

Rammeya Jegatheeswaran graduated with a BA Honours in Psychology from York University and a Master’s in Business...