There are a few fundamental elements for success in life that could be considered common sense, but in reality are not that common. Even common sense itself isn’t very common, but that’s a different story. The elements that I speak about are:
- … and the list goes on
This list can continue for a long time, but the reality is that even this short list is enough for multiple posts (it probably will be in time). All three items can realistically be related to almost any subject or activity, but in our case we’ll look at it through the lens of this site (personal finance with a hint of life).
Effort and action are very closely related to each other in that if you are taking action you are in many ways making an effort. Though, the effort that goes into taking action does not mean that when you are doing something you are making an effort. If you decide you’re going to pay down your credit cards and actually make the effort to fully stop using them and you keep making the minimum payments, you’re taking action. You are essentially paying down your credit cards. While you are taking action initially, beyond the initial step, you really aren’t making any real meaningful effort. If you take the same scenario, but instead of paying the minimum payments you’re putting all your extra money onto the credit card each month, then you are making a significant effort and will likely pay everything down much sooner.
The part that is often lost in this situation is that both effort and action are in many ways pretty rare commodities; how easy would it be to keep using that credit card, carrying the balance and making a payment now and then? Very easy, most people do that by default. They talk about doing something but never actually do it; they lament about being in a certain job or situation, but literally do nothing about it and just keep floating along. The net result is that nothing changes.
Another great example that comes to mind is going back to school; many people don’t have the opportunity to go to college after high school for whatever reason and just start working but always wanted to complete college. Then after a few years when their life is in a situation where they can potentially go back to school, how many actually do it compared to those that just talk about it? This requires both action and effort because you actually have to sign up and start attending classes but you also have to make the effort to pass your classes otherwise going back to school is nothing more than an expensive social activity. This also where the third fundamental comes into play, perseverance.
Perseverance is defined as: steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.
Taking the action of going back to school and even making the effort to pass the class is great but the decision to go back to school is rarely just to take a single class but to get a degree or certificate and or that you need many classes. Unfortunately, life keeps moving along at its steady pace and keeping at a multi-year degree program takes not only effort but also perseverance.
Knowing that you have to keep picking yourself up when life throws you a curveball is a very challenging lesson to learn and I would say one that too many miss the mark on. Personally, I vacillate between understanding this and ignoring it. At the age of 25 I went back to school and got my
On the other hand, I understand the basic principles of personal finance, spend less than you make, don’t carry debt if you don’t have to and save what you can, but yet over the years that I’ve had this site (over 10 at this point) I still struggle with this at times.
Perseverance means hitting that reset button when you make a mistake and eventually learning from it. That is where I am now, learning from my mistakes, going back to basics and hitting reset as often as I need to. Because like going back to school, getting out of debt, and I’m referring to real debt, the kind that takes time to grow and unfortunately time to clear, does not happen overnight.
You can achieve truly great things with those three elements; action, effort, and perseverance. It is the third one that really pushes you to a new level and why for me it is so important. I’ll wrap this up with a final example: learning to draw. You take action and start and even make an effort to learn some techniques or find an online course. If those are the only two elements you take on you might be ok at it. But if you persevere and put in the time required, the numerous failures and hurdles that you need to get through to become really good you can really achieve something spectacular. I use drawing as the example because there is a misconception that it is about talent when in reality
Perseverance has a staying power, in anything you do: from drawing to your finances.