July 6, 2014

Developing Persistence Effortlessly. ~ Alison Ottaway


Do you long for change?

Are you full of ideas, but when it comes to actually achieving them you stall in the early stages?

You start full of enthusiasm, but after a few weeks lose your motivation and berate yourself for being so weak?

If so, I bet you think you need more persistence. If only you were stronger, more determined, could stay the course… then your world would change.

Somehow, when they were handing out staying power, you were the last in line.

I’ve made some serious changes in my life. I’ve lost 140lbs, quit corporate to start my own business doing what I love, moved to a country I used to dream of and transformed my health, naturally conceived a child when all the ‘experts’ told me it couldn’t be done.

But if you think that I was born with more than my fair share of persistence, you’d be wrong.

I wasn’t gifted determination—I developed it.

And it’s been worth it! Learning how to turn on the tap of persistence has not only transformed my life but means I can now call on stores of determination whenever I need it.

Here’s how you can too:

1. Make sure you are going after what you really want

Persistence comes effortlessly when you are heading towards something you really want. And I mean really want: that thing you dream of, not the most rational alternative, not what other people would have you do, not what you used to want to do.

Change is hard and takes time. It often involves pushing out of your comfort zone and sometimes carrying on when you’d rather not. If you’re taking steps towards something that you don’t really want to do, you’re going to give up.

I knew that I wanted to quit my 9-5 many years before I actually did it. For a long time I tried half-heartedly to leave—coming up with ‘sensible’ alternative careers that seemed like they might work. But back then, there would always be some hurdle at which I’d give up. It wasn’t until I looked at what I really wanted to do head on that I had the determination to get out of the corporate cage.

When I realised that, deep down, I wanted to live in Italy, I was bed-bound after having injured my neck. It took almost a year from that moment to me sitting on a plane bound for Pisa. I’d faithfully done physiotherapy exercises for six months, retrained so I could earn a living abroad, researched cities and jobs and sold virtually all my possessions. A lot of the journey was uphill—but there was no question of me keeping going as I was so passionate about living there. That gave me all the staying power I needed.

2. Flesh out the details of what you want

To have the persistence you need, you’ve not only got to be working towards something you really want, but you’ve also got to be totally in love with that destination.

It’s no good just having a vague desire. You’ve got to flesh it out until you totally fall in love with it. Get into the nitty gritty: how you’ll look, who you’ll see, what people will say about you, what you’ll wear, where you’ll live, what you’ll do in the mornings, where you’ll travel—every little detail. And then imagine how all of that will make you feel.

When you can flesh out the life you want in this detail and stay connected to that vision, you’ll be so excited about where you’re heading that motivation will naturally bubble out of you, giving you all the persistence you need.

At 20 years of age, I looked down at the scales and saw them reading 280lbs back at me. My heart sank when I realised just how much weight I needed to lose. I took over a year for me to get to a place where I was happy with how I looked. And that year saw me giving up all the foods I loved and exercising virtually every day.

I kept going by focusing on the details of what I knew my weight loss would give me—the little black dress I could wear, exercising without being out of breath, wearing a swimsuit with pride, flirting with cute guys, being happy to have a camera pointed at me. And the freedom I’d feel with all of this.

After deciding I no longer wanted to be on the pill, it was a 10-year journey for me to restore my my hormonal health and fertility naturally; a decade that saw doctors telling me I’d never do it and an ever-deepening longing to be a mother.

Throughout, I kept strongly connected to the details of the life that I wanted—one where I was healthy without drugs, eating wonderfully and mother to a beautiful child that had been conceived and born naturally.

If you long for something different, and want to see through that change, rather than giving up when the going gets tough, get clear on what you really want in your life and then dive into it so deeply that you fall in love with it.

With those two steps you’ll be opening the door to your natural motivation, giving you all the persistence you could ever need.


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Apprentice Editor: Jamie Khoo/Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: Markéta Kaplanová-Doleželová/Pixoto

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