I probably shouldn’t be writing this post. But they say the best way to learn and improve is to teach others, so here I am, talking about sticktoitiveness.
Sticktoitiveness is a word used to define people with “dogged perseverance“. It’s frequently used in sports writing to describe athletes who pulled through in the face of great odds, but I think it has a much broader application as a trait that any individual can benefit from developing.
Sticktoitiveness: a trait worth developing
I interpret the word ‘sticktoitiveness’ quite literally: basically, if you have this trait, you’re good at following through with the things you start and sticking to your plans, even when the going gets tough.
People often struggle with procrastination (not being able to start something in the first place) or discouragement (starting something and then losing momentum due to external or internal factors). But sometimes, even if things are going well, we simply lose motivation.
Losing motivation happens for many reasons. Setting vague or unrealistic goals in the first place is a common reason for losing motivation – running out of steam is expected if you’re unsure about your next steps or if the goal is too grandiose. However, setting goals that meet the SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) framework isn’t a foolproof method for success either. In fact, some people feel like goals are completely overrated, and that setting them in the first place is pointless.
Chances are that when you first set a goal, any progress you make will be modest. You can’t expect to drop 20 lbs. overnight from a diet or suddenly make thousands of dollars off an idea you dreamed up yesterday. Oftentimes, these modest gains aren’t enough to aid us in developing good habits (and eventually reaching our goals). And even if you are making noticeable progress, it’s easy to get sidetracked by other demands in life, to lose faith in yourself, to get impatient, or to burn out due to overexertion and lack of support from others.
The lack of sticktoitiveness can be a pervasive force in various aspects of our lives. Remember how I said I shouldn’t be writing this? I’ve always struggled with getting new ideas off the ground – I’m motivated to start businesses and create unique things, but I inevitably get thrown off course by something else that excites me or grabs my attention. I’m not unproductive, and I’m not a hopeless dreamer – in fact, there’s a whole community of people out there who wear many hats at once, just like me! What I’ve discovered is that I’m obsessed with trying new things, and this tendency is often at odds with the sticktoitiveness that’s needed to get a project off the ground.
Okay, enough with that negative self-talk. We’re all works in progress, after all. 😊
It’s worth noting that sticktoitiveness doesn’t just apply to goals. It’s a trait that can impact all dimensions of our lives, from relationships to family life, hobbies, school, and everything in between. Also, people can have excellent sticktoitiveness in one aspect of life while struggling in another – there are people who are incredibly dedicated and competent at work, but they can’t make consistent time for their family, even when they’re consciously trying. And “giving up” on something doesn’t necessarily signal that a person lacks sticktoitiveness. Sometimes it’s right to quit a project and move on to the next big thing!
All that said, sticktoitiveness is worth developing because it increases your likelihood of success. I’ll bet that most of us have embarked on new things – an exciting, fresh relationship, a novel business idea, or an intriguing career path – only to stop short of realizing our full potential. Sticktoitiveness helps you see things through to their natural end, whether that’s a success or pivoting to something new.
How to develop sticktoitiveness
Now, this is the part where I step aside and let someone else chime in…just kidding. Sticktoitiveness is a trait that I’ve been working to develop, and although I’m not perfect, I have made significant progress. The best way I’ve found to hone this trait is to jump headfirst into projects and to commit 100 percent. For example, flipping houses is a side business that has forced me to commit. When you have money and time tied up in a project that absolutely has to get done by a deadline, it compels you to see things through from start to finish – even when the going gets tough.
Adventure goals are hugely motivating for me, too. That’s because I love traveling and exploring, and few things can interfere (apart from Coronavirus!) when I set my mind to a travel goal. Naturally, you’ll find it easier to stick with things you enjoy, but you can learn valuable lessons from any goal that you set and reach.
Here are a few other ways I’ve found to develop this elusive but necessary trait:
- Create habits. Even simple ones, like brushing your teeth twice a day or reading for 20 minutes a day, can sharpen your ability to stick to new things and to follow through with fresh ideas.
- Get an accountability partner. If there’s something you desperately want to accomplish but it feels impossible on your own, enlist some help! I’ve found that it’s best to choose an accountability partner who is NOT part of your inner circle (so not a spouse, sibling, or friend). It’s too tempting to go easy on one another when you have a prior connection. Instead, find someone out there who is working toward a common goal and connect with them so that you both succeed.
- Invest in a mentor and/or education. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten stopped up on an idea simply because I don’t know what to do next. My mind becomes clouded with a million questions and it all seems too overwhelming, so I huddle in my comfort zone with the things I already know and understand. If you have this tendency, get your questions answered by someone who knows better! Investing in a mentor or a course can cost money, but there are TONS of free resources out there too – it doesn’t have to be a pricey decision.
- Set reasonable expectations. You’re not going to go from being a distracted-by-shiny-objects dreamer to a prolific artist, entrepreneur, speaker, performer, or thinker overnight. The process takes time and consistency (and probably some failures along the way). Celebrate each day that you do a bit more toward sharpening your sticktoitiveness, and check-in with yourself regularly to assess your progress.
As always, thanks for stopping by. If you’ve managed to develop sticktoitiveness, I’d love to learn your secrets 😉 Let me know in the comments!