Futile Persistence – How Do You Know When to Stop?

Our society doesn’t appear to reward persistence these days. Everything happens fast. Dinner at the drive-through in five minutes. Or from the freezer to the microwave to the table in about the same time.

You barely have to stop your car to accomplish your daily tasks. We have drive-through everything — banks, cleaners, and pharmacies — to mention a few. And what would we do if we couldn’t pay at the pump?

Maybe this is why most all online businesses fail. We expect success now. But the one thing that separates the few who succeed from the many who don’t is simple persistence.

Just as crucial as the activity of persistence, is the fact that your persistence must be disciplined, not random. You must have the right road map to get you to success or you can persist all your life without the results you want.

This sounds great — and works great — most of the time. But we’ve all had days when personal development “theory” is way out of sync with our “reality.” Because even when you have the right road map, there are bound to be lane closures and detours along the way. So what do you do about those?

I tend to be a perfectionist, and am always tinkering with my blogs and websites to make them look better. A major problem with my efforts is that I’m very “right-brained,” so the technical side of things often proves to be more than challenging for me.

More than once, I’ve felt like I’ve driven smack into a dead end with no warning sign. There are some things I just can’t figure out. And I have the best road map for the technically challenged. I have step-by-step video tutorials on how to do everything. I’ve also found that you can get the answer to about any issue you run into by “Googling it,” if you have the time.

So there are times when I’ve spent hours learning to accomplish something that is probably pathetically easy. Like correctly adding pictures and videos to my blog posts. The glory I feel when I accomplish something like that after much frustration is always worth it.

But what about the times when you try and you try, and suddenly, it’s 3:00 a.m. and you still haven’t figured it out? The frustration these times bring equals the triumphant feeling of accomplishment. Ugh.

These few precious hours could have been productive, I tell myself. I’ve just accomplished absolutely nothing. But, when it pays off, you’ve learned a new skill that you keep for a lifetime. And that’s priceless.

No matter how good your road map is, no one can ever anticipate all of the detours and lane closures you may encounter on the way to success. For online business owners, that means we will always have unanswered questions and challenges.

So if you know your road map is good, how do you know when your persistence is futile? How do you know when giving up now prevents you from mastering a new skill? Maybe 10 more minutes of persistence would have done it?

I’m not sure you ever know. That’s why persistent people struggle to the point of feeling we’re about to lose our minds.

In an effort not to lose my mind, I’ve settled on this process when I hit a bump in my road to success:

1. Evaluate the problem. How likely is it that you can solve this yourself? Do you have good options for finding a solution? If not, don’t persist at all. Wait until you can contact your mentors/friends for help.

2. If it looks like you should be able to figure it out, decide how much time you will spend figuring it out. Consider:

* how much time you have,

* how much it would cost to hire someone to solve the problem (time is money), and

* how valuable the new skill will be to you on your road to success.

3. Spend only the amount of time you’ve decided on trying to solve the problem.

4. If you don’t figure it out, move on to something productive. Don’t throw your hands up in frustration and dive into your email inbox. Do something that you know you will move your business forward. This way, even though your problem still exists, you’ve taken positive action that you can feel good about.

5. Don’t let the problem eat at you. Figure out who, how and what can solve the problem and make the necessary contacts at the first opportunity.

Next time you hit a roadblock, use this formula to turn your problem into progress.