Asperger’s & NLD Career Letter, February 2021
Josh admitted that he was too easily discouraged, and that it was hurting his efforts to find a job. He would send out two or three resumes, and take it personally when companies did not acknowledge them or invite him for an interview. “I’ll never get hired,” he told himself. He would then stop looking for a week or two, and begin the cycle anew.
Perseverance is an important part of reaching goals. It means to continue taking action, even when there are problems, delays, or feelings of discouragement. Successful people expect that they will encounter setbacks and unforeseen obstacles. They treat them as challenges to overcome.
In contrast to Josh, my client Steve demonstrated remarkable perseverance. His job search lasted nearly two years, and he went on nearly 50 interviews before being offered a job. Pam, another client, tried five different types of jobs before finding the right match. And Alex committed to improving his interpersonal skills so that he could communicate better with his colleagues.
The individuals who persevered had several things in common:
- They set goals that were personally meaningful. This provided the motivation to continue, despite the inevitable setbacks.
- Their goals were realistic and achievable. Each person either had, or could reasonably acquire, the necessary education, skills, or resources.
- They tracked their progress against pre-established benchmarks. That way, they could identify what was working, and stop putting their effort into activities that were not getting results.
- They had realistic expectations of themselves. Each was willing to learn new skills, and push themselves to take action.
They also worked within their limitations. Steve accepted that he needed to change his interviewing strategy, and disclosed his Asperger’s Syndrome to employers. Pam acknowledged teaching was not an option as she was unable to manage a classroom of young children.
Persevering should not be confused with perseverating, which means becoming fixated on a thought or action. This can be problematic when the ideas or behaviors are not productive. Examples include: wanting to work for one particular company, only; continuing to accept work in a certain field, despite repeated job losses; spending months challenging a performance review, instead of correcting performance short-falls; continuing to argue against a decision that has already been made.
Every human being experiences disappointment, doubt and anxiety. People who persevere do not allow negative experiences from their past to define their futures. Instead, they learn from their experiences and focus on moving ahead.
Copyright 2021, Barbara Bissonnette, Forward Motion Coaching