Perseverance – steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.
Picture this…I woke up and decided to work for four hours and at noon, head out on a much-needed bike ride.  I’m a planner, that’s what I do.  So, I diligently focused on the tasks at hand, checking them off one by one until the buzzer on my alarm told me it was time to switch gears and get some exercise.
Your brain can’t be creative and sharp if you aren’t working out the body once in awhile!  I headed out on my bike with my boyfriend, determined to ride in a new direction.  I mapped out the route and decided we would take a less direct and more scenic course.  I was aware that the mileage would be greater, but what I didn’t account for was the terrain.  The path I selected was filled with rolling hills, some steep, and rarely was there a stretch of flat land.  This was a detail that I was not aware of as hills are not my friends.  Hills cause my asthma to flare up and my legs to turn to jelly.  This particular morning, I was exhausted.
I didn’t sleep well the night before and was pretty dehydrated.  Even riding on the flat stretch out of my subdivision was making me feel a bit fatigued.  But, I pressed on.  About a third of the way through the ride, I had to stop.  I drank some water and took a breather.  I thought I was going to be physically ill, but I took a moment, hopped back on the bike and continued.  Before I would arrive at my favorite coffee shop, 13 miles away, I would stop 4 or 5 times and walk my bike up two of the gazillion hills.  I drank two bottles of water and ate egg salad.  I refueled.  I rested.  I walked around a bit to work out some kinks in my muscles and got back on my bike for the return ride.  I decided to take a different route home, one that I was familiar with and knew was a bit flatter.  I made it home without stopping even once.  I endured every hill and pushed through to the finish…I only walked my bike up one hill on the way home.
Your brain can’t be creative and sharp if you aren’t working out the body once in awhile!  I headed out on my bike with my boyfriend, determined to ride in a new direction.  I mapped out the route and decided we would take a less direct and more scenic course.  I was aware that the mileage would be greater, but what I didn’t account for was the terrain.  The path I selected was filled with rolling hills, some steep, and rarely was there a stretch of flat land.  This was a detail that I was not aware of as hills are not my friends.  Hills cause my asthma to flare up and my legs to turn to jelly.  This particular morning, I was exhausted.  I didn’t sleep well the night before and was pretty dehydrated.  Even riding on the flat stretch out of my subdivision was making me feel a bit fatigued.  But, I pressed on.  About a third of the way through the ride, I had to stop.  I drank some water and took a breather.  I thought I was going to be physically ill, but I took a moment, hopped back on the bike and continued.  Before I would arrive at my favorite coffee shop, 13 miles away, I would stop 4 or 5 times and walk my bike up two of the gazillion hills.
I drank two bottles of water and ate egg salad.  I refueled.  I rested.  I walked around a bit to work out some kinks in my muscles and got back on my bike for the return ride.  I decided to take a different route home, one that I was familiar with and knew was a bit flatter.  I made it home without stopping even once.  I endured every hill and pushed through to the finish…I only walked my bike up one hill on the way home.
I was aware that the mileage would be greater, but what I didn’t account for was the terrain. The path I selected was filled with rolling hills, some steep, and rarely was there a stretch of flat land.  This was a detail that I was not aware of as hills are not my friends.  Hills cause my asthma to flare up and my legs to turn to jelly.
This particular morning, I was exhausted.  I didn’t sleep well the night before and was pretty dehydrated.  Even riding on the flat stretch out of my subdivision was making me feel a bit fatigued.  But, I pressed on.  About a third of the way through the ride, I had to stop.  I drank some water and took a breather.  I thought I was going to be physically ill, but I took a moment, hopped back on the bike and continued.  Before I would arrive at my favorite coffee shop, 13 miles away, I would stop 4 or 5 times and walk my bike up two of the gazillion hills.  I drank two bottles of water and ate egg salad.  I refueled.  I rested.  I walked around a bit to work out some kinks in my muscles and got back on my bike for the return ride.  I decided to take a different route home, one that I was familiar with and knew was a bit flatter.  I made it home without stopping even once.  I endured every hill and pushed through to the finish…I only walked my bike up one hill on the way home.
This particular morning, I was exhausted.  I didn’t sleep well the night before and was pretty dehydrated.  Even riding on the flat stretch out of my subdivision was making me feel a bit fatigued.  But, I pressed on.  About a third of the way through the ride, I had to stop.  I drank some water and took a breather.  I thought I was going to be physically ill, but I took a moment, hopped back on the bike and continued.  Before I would arrive at my favorite coffee shop, 13 miles away, I would stop 4 or 5 times and walk my bike up two of the gazillion hills.
I drank two bottles of water and ate egg salad.  I refueled.  I rested.  I walked around a bit to work out some kinks in my muscles and got back on my bike for the return ride.  I decided to take a different route home, one that I was familiar with and knew was a bit flatter.  I made it home without stopping even once.  I endured every hill and pushed through to the finish…I only walked my bike up one hill on the way home.
I drank some water and took a breather.  I thought I was going to be physically ill, but I took a moment, hopped back on the bike and continued.  Before I would arrive at my favorite coffee shop, 13 miles away, I would stop 4 or 5 times and walk my bike up two of the gazillion hills.  I drank two bottles of water and ate egg salad.  I refueled.  I rested.  I walked around a bit to work out some kinks in my muscles and got back on my bike for the return ride.  I decided to take a different route home, one that I was familiar with and knew was a bit flatter.  I made it home without stopping even once.  I endured every hill and pushed through to the finish…I only walked my bike up one hill on the way home.
I refueled.  I rested.  I walked around a bit to work out some kinks in my muscles and got back on my bike for the return ride.  I decided to take a different route home, one that I was familiar with and knew was a bit flatter.  I made it home without stopping even once.  I endured every hill and pushed through to the finish…I only walked my bike up one hill on the way home.

So, why am I sharing this adventure with you?  After all, I’m not a marathoner and my total mileage was nothing to brag about, only a mere 21 miles.  There are times I hop on my bike and can ride 30-40 miles without blinking. During those rides, I’m rested, nourished and strong.  The day I described above was not one of those days.  I felt tired, weak and ill.  I could have given up.  I felt like giving up.  I wanted to give up.  But I had a partner that I didn’t want to let down.  He’s strong and active and, frankly, this ride was a piece of cake for him.  At times, he’d get ahead and have to circle back so we stayed near each other.  When I finally ended the ride in my driveway and collapsed in my chair, I realized there was quite a dichotomy between life and that bike ride.

Life can be hard.  Sometimes, we want to give up.  Sometimes, it’s easier to stay where we are in the same job or relationship than to work to find something better or more fulfilling.  Sometimes, we are so tired that continuing down a challenging path feels daunting and impossible.  All of these feelings, I felt on that bike ride.  I’ve taken hundreds of bike rides.  All are pleasurable with moments of challenge.  But this one was different.  I felt challenged beyond what I have ever felt.  I also felt defeated.  I also persevered.  When I finished that ride, I had an incredible sense of accomplishment.  I, truly, did not think I was going to make it.  I had secretly texted my mom and asked if she would pick me up if I couldn’t hack it.  But, I didn’t call her.  I made it.  I didn’t give up.  I considered that ride and spent some time pondering the strategies I used to continue on when I didn’t feel like pushing to the end.  I wondered how I could connect those strategies to life.  So, here’s my top list of strategies to persevere when you really just want to quit!

  1. Take small steps.  While I was riding and peering ahead at the next hill, I just kept saying, one hill, that’s all that’s in front of you.  It was true, kinda…  Regardless, thinking of the small hurdle ahead was much easier than thinking about the miles ahead filled with hills that would be just as tough as the one in front of me.
  2. Focus on the feeling of the outcome.  The entire ride, I kept telling myself that when I was done, I would feel so proud and accomplished.  I also told myself that I would be disappointed in myself if I failed.  The euphoria of accomplishing a tough task was enough to give me a kick.
  3. Nourish your body.  You cannot be at your best if you are not caring for yourself.  Hungry, tired and a little under the weather is not the best time to head out on a rigorous ride.  Similarly, you can’t rock the corporate party if you are tired and undernourished.  You must tend to your physical needs if you want to have mental clarity and physical well being.
  4. Find a mentor.  A mentor can help to push you to new boundaries.  If it weren’t for my partner (a mentor of sorts), I wouldn’t have finished and would have turned around and spent some time in my comfy chair.  A mentor helps you to set goals and attain them. They push you to be better!
  5. Don’t be afraid to fail.  I didn’t know that I would finish that ride, but I didn’t stop.  I just kept trying.  If I only made it one way, well, that was 13 miles that I didn’t think I would be able to do.  I wasn’t afraid to fail.  I just knew I had to give it my all and if a one-way trip was all I could do, well, that’s all I could do.  13 miles is better than zero!

Persevering through life’s challenges is the only way to succeed and grow.  No one said growth would be easy.  We don’t see success navigating smooth waters.  We only become stronger when we learn to persevere through the rough waters.  I don’t always take the rough road.  The easy road is often more desirable.  However, I work to see where the rough roads will take me and determine if the success is worth the pain.  If it is, I will endure and come out stronger on the other end.  Life isn’t always smooth, but the hills and valleys all contribute into our tapestry. Don’t avoid them, face them head on and pedal through!

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