Perseverance is an incredibly important trait.
Those who have it will keep on keeping on regardless of the obstacles that are flung in their path, while those who don’t are often shattered by minor setbacks.
So, what are the traits of those who are built to persevere, and how can you attain them?
1. They can look beyond themselves.
Those who continually get through difficult times are able to do so because they’re focused on a cause greater than themselves.
For example, someone might find the strength and resilience to get through hardships because they have children to take care of.
Additionally, many who persevere do so because they have a strong sense of faith. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re religious, but many who have persevered through the most harrowing situations imaginable have done so because they felt that a higher power of some sort was either helping them, or that they needed to get through it to do work in service to others, in the name of said higher power.
2. They can think flexibly.
Many people throw in the towel when things don’t go according to plan. Rather than going with the flow and finding alternate means to their desired end, they’ll get caught up on how peg A didn’t fit properly into hole B and now their entire plan is ruined and there’s no point in continuing onward.
Quite frankly, they get emotional and have a tantrum instead of taking a deep breath and seeing what else can be done instead.
With a bit of creativity and ingenuity, they could very likely find another route around their problem. Unfortunately, they’re so fixated on what went wrong that they can’t see what can be done to make things right.
3. They are resourceful.
It’s important to be able to shift direction if and when it’s needed. This often means being able to glance around and take stock of what you can do with the tools available to you at that moment in time.
Heck, if your hammer breaks, grab a rock.
I once saw an old man lose his best lure while out fishing. Instead of packing up and leaving, he pulled a candy bar out of his pocket, ate the contents, and crafted a new lure from the metallic wrapper and some dental floss he had in his pack.
He caught a good couple of fish with that lure, without throwing anything in frustration, nor giving up. Instead, he made do with what he had, and kept at it.
4. They learn important lessons from failure.
Some people give up on their goals at the first inconvenience or obstacle. They’ll spiral into a defeatist attitude in which they’ll feel anger and humiliation at the fact that their attempt failed, then throw in the towel entirely.
Many of them will refuse to do anything even associated with that failure ever again and may develop a hatred for what they initially enjoyed or admired.
In contrast, someone with perseverance will learn from their mistakes and call it “experience.”
If the cake they tried to bake failed, they’ll seek to understand why so that they can avoid making that same error in the future.
And they’ll keep making adjustments every time something doesn’t go right until they’ve tweaked things just the right way to make everything work perfectly.
5. They remain stoic in the face of adversity.
We all know people who moan about all the difficulties they’re going through to anyone within earshot.
In fact, anyone who knows them will likely be up to date on their every blister and bunion whether they want to know these excruciating details or not.
In contrast, perseverant sorts usually keep their thoughts and emotions to themselves.
You may see signs of stress or sorrow in them, such as furrowed brows or tired eyes, but they don’t discuss details about their personal burdens, nor do they inflict their sorrows on others.
They bear their hardships with grace and dignity rather than howling victimhood.
6. They are humble.
In addition to the stoicism mentioned above, those who are truly built to persevere rarely—if ever—extol their own virtues to others.
They have no need to impress other people, and they’re not withstanding this hardship and stress for the sake of earning accolades.
They’re doing it because they have goals they want to achieve, and they’ll keep moving forward until they’re no longer able to.
It’s often those who are insecure and ungrounded who need external validation. In contrast, those who are secure in themselves and don’t seek praise are often uncomfortable when they receive it. They’ll crack jokes about it or change the subject, and they don’t see their achievements as any big deal: they simply did what needed to be done.
7. They exhibit great strength of will.
They aren’t easily influenced by what others are doing (or what other people tell them to do), but instead are led by their own morals, ideas, ethics, and general sense of what is right.
These people don’t cave easily to societal pressures, and will hold to what they feel is the right thing to do, even when facing intense opposition from everyone around them.
Furthermore, people who have a well-developed strength of will don’t rely on others to keep them going. They’re driven by their inner momentum and desires and are often annoyed when others try to act as cheerleaders for them.
On that same note, they also don’t blame others when things go poorly: they know that since they’re moving forward under their own steam, they’re entirely accountable for their own successes and failures.
8. They have a good sense of humor.
Many persistent types will have had a very difficult upbringing, and thus developed some creative coping mechanisms.
While strength of will and stoicism are characteristics that help you remain resilient through hardship, a strong (and perhaps dark) sense of humor is often vital for not letting that hardship seep into the soul.
People who are able to find humor in the most appalling circumstances generally experience less stress and emotional damage than those who can’t. Laughter releases serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins, all of which alleviate pain and stress.
If you aren’t being crushed by despair or panic, you’re able to keep going.
9. They have outlets for their stress and anxiety.
Those who have great perseverance generally have at least one hobby or personal pursuit that they use to let off steam.
They might engage in some kind of sport or other physical activity that allows them to release tension or anxiety, or a creative hobby such as wood carving, knitting, or even fishing.
Nobody can output full time, and we all need to replenish our energy while decompressing.
It’s rather like refilling an energetic well. If you’re going to put a startling amount of energy and effort into attaining your goal, then you need to ensure that you’re replenishing that energy source. Otherwise, you’ll burn out.
10. They are prepared for many eventualities.
Those who have been through some of the greatest difficulties imaginable were able to do so because they were prepared.
They’re able to consider every potential outcome and then plan for all those contingencies, and thus are rarely caught unawares when and if they come across difficulty.
These are people who will pack a saw and hatchet in their backpack when they’re going camping but keep a Swiss Army utility knife in their belt or pocket in case they lose the backpack. And another small one in their boot.
Another thing they do is to consider any situation that may occur, and mentally prepare for it.
This technique is mentioned in the 17th century Japanese book Hagakure. Essentially, samurai were ordered to meditate during times of stillness to envision how they’d respond to different situations; the most common being a surprise attack.
While at rest, they would visualize how they’d react to a particular strike or shot over and over again, until it became second nature. That way, if and when they found themselves in that scenario, their response would be reactive and immediate.
11. They engage in intelligent opportunism.
Those who have been through difficulty know to take full advantage of opportunities as they arise.
For example, those who have experienced hunger through poverty or calamity often eat whenever they have the chance to do so, and save a bit of their food in case they don’t get more of it later on.
The same goes for sleep: ask any veteran soldier about how and when they rest, and they’ll inevitably tell you that they can fall asleep standing up if they need to.
Those who have managed to persevere through the most difficult situations tend to adopt these traits as well. If and when they find a source of clean water, they’ll fill up more than they need at the moment, since they’ll either need more later or can share it with others.
If an opportunity presents itself that may prove useful, either in the moment or down the line, they’ll use it to its greatest advantage.
12. They accept the challenges presented to them.
You may have noticed that there are people who shy away from challenging situations because they don’t want to feel uncomfortable or awkward, and those who lean into them instead.
As you can imagine, people with perseverance generally fall into the latter category.
They recognize that they’re only going to develop a wide skill set by trying out different things.
Additionally, they don’t avoid doing one thing or another because of the stigmas associated with it: they know that all knowledge and ability can come in handy.
For example, some guys might think that sewing is “girly” work, but knowing how to sew neat stitches can be invaluable for suturing a wound someday.
13. They don’t dwell on the past.
Everyone goes through difficulty of some kind or another, but it’s up to the individual whether they choose to be shaped by their trauma, or to rise above it.
For example, let’s say two people nearly drowned as children. One might acknowledge that the experience sucked and be a bit cautious about swimming for a while, but they choose to take some swimming lessons, maybe go diving, and get on with their life.
Meanwhile, the other allows the discomfort of the experience to take center stage. They shy away from anything related to water, even going so far as to avoid taking baths because of the related anxiety and panic that they *might* experience by being immersed in the liquid.
Which of these two people do you think would stand a greater chance of survival in future difficult circumstances?
14. They maintain unyielding forward momentum.
You’ve probably heard of the phrase about unstoppable forces meeting immovable objects? Well, people who are built to persevere are the ultimate unstoppable forces.
They’ll experience hardships and setbacks like anyone else, but they never let these setbacks prevent them from continuing to move forward toward their end goal.
If their enterprise burns to the ground, they’ll start again from scratch. Their endeavor may burn several times over, but they’ll stay the course and see it through.
Ultimately, we’re all capable of perseverance in our own way. It’s likely that you’ve already experienced hardships and have transcended them, and although you may have been wounded or otherwise damaged by them, they haven’t broken you.
One doesn’t have to experience war, famine, or severe trauma in order to be someone who perseveres. The traits mentioned above can be cultivated through conscious effort and built upon with time and experience.