The following article—originally published on my blog, "Mental Health for Humans" —is a great setup to a post I'm working on for this site about the (totally worth it) heartache and pain and suffering I (and many) experience when adhering to the sage advice, "follow your heart." Here's the link to the original article, if you're so inclined to read it there. Otherwise, enjoy!
Persistence is good, right? It's the term we give to that certain quality of doggedly moving ever forward, come what may, toward one's goal. Persistence is necessary to achieve goals, because obstacles, or seeming-disincentives to proceed, can and do arise. And we humans, animals that we are, tend to have to will ourselves to favor the long-term over the short-term. In other words, we're rolling in this game with loaded dice: we're wired for pleasure and gratification! Ask any behaviorist out there: we learn, by way of conditioning and reinforcement, how to respond and what to do in given situations. And if we're doing something that brings us periodic, sometimes unpredictable disappointment, discomfort, or pain, our initial impulse may be to stop doing that something.
And so, to get what is not immediately within our grasp, we need persistence.
Now, remember my jag in the previous post about continua? Here, too, I am hesitant to label persistence as, simply, "good." I think it's definitely much farther along toward the "good" side than the "bad," granted, but it's important for us to remember, when endeavoring to achieve, that we must always of necessity make room in our lives for the things we want to get -- and the process and practice of making room for things can be difficult at times. After all, it requires that we disrupt the status quo and seek a new balance. Sometimes this requires others' cooperation, which is where things can get especially tricky, and require even more persistence (i.e., we don't always share an agenda with the key stakeholders of our lives: our partners, friends, family, etc.).
You get the gist.
When pursuing your goal, be willing to make room for it, be willing to grow, and be willing to tolerate some possible discomfort along the way. But know that discomfort, in and of itself, isn't necessarily "bad." Depending on the context, discomfort can be in service of cultivating a deeper contentedness. Think of someone who wants to get in shape, for example. Maybe they go to the gym, or maybe they take up jogging or mountain biking. Whatever they choose will involve some temporary discomfort. Ultimately, however, the satisfaction derived from getting in shape -- i.e., the achievement and manifestation of one's goals -- far outweighs any discomfort which occurred along the way.
So: Be persistent. It's worth it.