persist

something that thomas jefferson said struck a chord with me today.

I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.

at some level i do not believe in myself. when faced with a potential athletic challenge, my gut instinct is to cower and defer. it has always been like this. i think of an upcoming practice and get discouraged at how much effort it will take. i survey my participation and wonder why it is i participate. there is another part of me that is able to continue on, to recognize that yes, i have done similar things before, yes, i can do them again, and it will be hard, but it is supposed to be hard. this part of me is very deliberate when trying to overcome pessimism, and i only get there through a lot of self-consciousness and effort.

upon facing staggering personal disappointment, i posted:

i failed.

i’m going to go cry, and then sleep, and then cry some more, and then persist, because i don’t know how to do anything else.

i worried that i would let this defeat me, even in the throes of motivation. i have made lofty goals before, and fallen apart in pursuit more than once. i have been thrown off track more than once this year, and i never rely on the coming month to be uneventful. i found a way to stay strong in pursuit of a goal i was determined not to let go – #persist.

persist is the guiding tenet behind a philosophy i follow but never put a name to. when i am faced with something unfathomable, i do not bother to fathom it. i put it out of mind and do it. persisting is not concerned with goals. persisting is concerned with process, and thereby eliminates pressure and fear from my mind when it stands in my way. don’t worry about the destination – keep your eyes on the road.

goals are important. i’m fully in support of goals. but when i set goals, i set them in such a way that i expect to succeed by accident. i separate the person who is setting the goals from the person who is doing the work, and in that way i am never tempted to self-sabotage by discouraging myself from doing work through fear of failure.

the reason this works well for me is because of my unsteady self-esteem. i plan where and when i’m going to do things. on days where i am terribly depressed, scared that i will fail, anxious about my ability to perform, and all the other things that i am anxious about, i do the work i have planned for myself. i design my habits, and i persist.

and so, when i am at my worst, i can have faith in my ability to persist. by separating the work from the plan, when things are darkest i can have implicit faith that someone smart came up with a solid plan and if i stick to that plan – if i don’t fall off, if i persist – that i will succeed. when i am depressed and feel like doing nothing, i persist, because it is just another appointment. when i am tempted to overdo it, go too hard and make myself sick, i persist, because rest and recovery is part of the plan. when i worry that i’m not keeping up, or that i’m embarrassing myself, or that i’m not enough, i persist. i accept that doubt and fear and depression are part of who i am, they come and i deal with them as best as i can, so i trust myself at my most motivated to make plans that do not affect those roadblocks. i know that mental turmoil is not going away, but does not have to be a handicap. i persist, because i don’t know how to do anything else.

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