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ARTICLE

The Importance of Perseverance and How Puzzles Can Help



I must state that I am not a doctor and this article does not contain any medical advice, treatment or diagnosis (see disclaimer).


Perseverance is a very important quality in a person and it will be very difficult for me to succeed in life without having it especially for the things that I really want in life as they can often require a lot of sacrifice and time to achieve. The reasons/excuses I often have for giving up are boredom, the difficulty of the task, another option that seems more appealing, the chances of succeeding and that I am doing too many things at once. When I have given up early on an endeavour in the past then I can sometimes be left with the irritable thought of not knowing where it could have led and what opportunities and possibly valuable lessons could have resulted from it so, therefore, going forward it is important I try even harder to see things through to the end. There are many times in life in which giving up is just not an option for me and therefore it is crucial I am able to deal with these crisis moments so when they do occur they do not overwhelm and sink me. It is important that I do not set myself challenges that are impossible or are way too difficult for that they will leave me demoralised but I also do want to challenge myself as this is the only way I will be able to develop as a person and acquire new skills.


Perseverance is an attribute that is an absolute necessity for me in the work environment as most employers, including my current one, demand this attribute from their workers as the work environment can be a very tough and unforgiving place which I have found can often be very stressful and overwhelming. Employers also want that their employees complete all tasks that are given to them no matter how challenging I may find they are to complete and this would be a situation in which giving up would not be an option as it could lead me to lose my job. At work, I have limited time and can have many tasks to complete so it can be easy for me to feel overwhelmed but I have found if I plan ahead how I will tackle them and put the tasks in an order that I feel comfortable with such as starting with the easier tasks and working to the more difficult ones and work through each task one at a time then this feeling of being overwhelmed does subside. This kind of scenario is one that puzzles have helped me practice and therefore improve my perseverance as a puzzle can likewise present a lot of challenges or things to do of varying degrees of difficulty or that I find personally that some are more difficult than others with a time limit in place. Having regularly encountered this kind of scenario with puzzles it has helped me to recognise that I need to plan ahead quickly before I start the challenges as this can actually help save a lot of time such as in what order I will do each challenge, if the puzzle allows for me to do them in the order I want, and how I will go about solving each challenge so I can then go on to solve them in a calm and orderly manner and a way that works for me. A lot of puzzles do have time limits, particularly audio ones, which have helped me somewhat to practice being up against the clock and to both be able to think clearly and quickly under this time pressure and also to be able to perform physical manoeuvres or actions quickly which helps for work as work tasks demand from me that I think and perform physical actions. However, work provides me tasks that I sometimes don't particularly enjoy that can take many hours to complete, which can still be a tight deadline despite the deadline being many hours long, in which fatigue both mental and physical are factors that I find are demotivating and obstacles I have to overcome. Therefore when I consider the fact I am not likely to play a puzzle that long and therefore practice it unless I really enjoy it then practising a puzzle I don't enjoy for many hours to a deadline could provide the same problem that I have at work with long tasks being done to a tight deadline and not really help me improve my perseverance for this. Work can also be very boring at times in the tasks that I am set which makes them a struggle to complete and these tasks I am set can be sometimes very repetitive and it has taken a lot of experience to deal with and find ways to overcome this boredom. One of the ways I try to deal with the boredom of a particular task at work is to find ways to make the task more interesting or spice it up so I set my own personal goals for the task such as doing the task in a faster time than I have done it before, when it is safe to do it quicker, or set more short term targets for the task when the task is a long one. An example for setting a short term target would be for me to target having so much done in an hour or every half an hour instead of just having the end goal target of completing the task which could be an afternoon, a day or a whole week which can be for me more demotivating the longer task takes to complete depending what it involves. Another method for dealing with assignments that are boring is the order in which I do them which could be to do the most boring tasks first to get them out the way when I am possibly most motivated and then to work to the more interesting tasks or to do a boring task and then a task I find interesting or enjoyable and repeat this so I am not doing one boring task after another which would be very demotivating for me. Dealing with boring tasks is a situation that can occur and be practised with puzzles as well, for example, when doing a puzzle book but some puzzles or types of puzzles within it don't interest me. Doing these puzzles that I don't enjoy means that I should gain something from having had a go at those puzzles that I would otherwise not have if I didn't do them both in terms of improving and gaining experience at that type of puzzle but also learning to complete tasks that I find are boring but which are beneficial for me complete. Listening to music I like at work can make an assignment for me a more pleasant experience when it is appropriate for me to listen to music at work or it could be an audio puzzle that I listen to when I don't have to think or really concentrate too hard on the assignment I have to do at work. I listen to music whilst doing puzzles also to make the experience more enjoyable and can find with up-tempo music that I perform puzzles that I physically manipulate quicker but obviously, some types of music can be very distracting such as loud rock when I have to deeply think about a puzzle challenge.


Perseverance is an important attribute because it has helped me when I wanted to improve my health, for example, when I wanted to lose weight which for me requires lots of perseverance as I had to stick to a diet that doesn't involve food I enjoy the most and exercise on a regular basis. My perseverance was really tested when trying to get healthier because I had been living a quite unhealthy lifestyle for a significant period of time (many years) and therefore it was hard for me to first of all change bad habits that had become ingrained and then keep to this. Cravings in particular for sugary foods and drinks were at first very difficult when I had reduced my intake of them especially when I was stressed or bored and it is a temptation that is easy to give into as sugary foods and drinks are easy to obtain as they are still present in my house and even if I removed them from my house the shop is close by where I could almost just as conveniently get them. It required me to maintain a lot of discipline to overcome this and one way that in particular helped me to take my mind off these cravings was to take up and do activities such as puzzles when I had these cravings. Having a puzzle always at hand is therefore important as the cravings could happen anywhere at any time not just when I am at home and luckily puzzles come in many formats and sizes so that having one at hand and on me is very unlikely to be a problem. Remembering to have a puzzle on me or nearby and do it when I get these cravings and getting into the habit of doing this so it becomes routine and automatic was also be a bit of a challenge at first in which I would sometimes forget but the more I did it the easier it became. Puzzles also helped me persist with exercising with the forms of exercise I participate in being jogging and cycling which I do to keep fit and the puzzles make these forms of exercise more enjoyable and that I actually look forward to doing them. I listen to audio puzzles whilst doing these exercises which can make the exercise that I am doing an even more productive experience as I am often gaining skills from doing the audio puzzles as well as just enjoying doing them. Asking for help or admitting it is something that I struggle with and have found can happen with both my health and with puzzles as I like to be able to solve a problem by myself even if would be smarter/easier to seek help/advice. I have also found it to be the case that if I don't ask for help or get help then the problem can be left unresolved and get worse which could lead to possibly serious consequences for me when it is a health issue. Puzzles have helped me to seek help when I am struggling with a problem and not just puzzle related when I have hit a roadblock that I can't get past and it is often just a little bit of help has helped me on my way to solving the puzzle. Finishing the puzzle when it has been a struggle gives me a sense of achievement and will likely help me the next time I face a similar challenge which I would not have got if I had quit when I hit the roadblock even if I do admit that getting help to solve a puzzle does feel like cheating and doesn't feel as good as doing it all by myself.


A puzzle I have found, at least for me anyway, is a good way to work on this persistence quality as a lot of puzzles apart from the most simple ones involve some sort of perseverance to get to the solution or the eureka moment that will solve the puzzle. This persistence may be required to solve the puzzle as the solution is not immediately obvious or it could take a long time to complete or is very complex or it is very tricky to perform some or all of the manoeuvres. Puzzles can present logical challenges in which reasoning and common sense are needed to solve them or they can present lateral thinking challenges in which outside the box thinking is required and that my thinking will need to be creative in order to solve them or puzzles can even present both logical and lateral thinking challenges. I find lateral thinking challenges, however, more difficult and can take me much longer to solve or even just come up with an answer as my brain struggles to think laterally but this is a good way for me to practice perseverance by doing puzzles that I am weaker at but still enjoy. However, I do find perseverance is a trait that is often most required when I don't enjoy the task/puzzle I am doing that is important or worthwhile to finish even more so than when the task/puzzle that is important or worthwhile to finish gets difficult or too difficult. Therefore I have to force myself to practice finishing these puzzles I don't enjoy doing much more than I would a puzzle that I enjoy doing and I will be improving my perseverance much more by completing the puzzle I don't enjoy as it requires much more perseverance to finish than I am with a puzzle I enjoy but is difficult for me to complete. Practice for me is a crucial element of perseverance as it is through practice that I am able to improve my perseverance which has resulted in me obtaining skills or understanding and surmounting problems that I would otherwise not have gained if I hadn't put it this practice. Practice requires patience as well which is also an element of perseverance and puzzles are all about practice either to solve them or get better at solving them or even to master them in which I will need to spend a lot of time repeating a puzzle ad nauseam until it is perfected. Puzzles present a wide variety of challenges that can test me in different ways and some of these challenges I will be better at solving than others and will come more naturally to me but it is the ones that don't come so easy to me that will really reveal my perseverance level. It can happen that I start with a puzzle that is too advanced and that I need to work on a lower-level version of the same puzzle in order to improve my level and build up to that advanced level but it is important that I do come back to the advanced-level version of the puzzle as the satisfaction of completing something that at first seemed way too difficult will be very rewarding and also that I didn't waste the time I initially spent trying to solve it.


If I feel like giving up on a particular task/puzzle then the most obvious thing to do is for me to take a break in order to clear my mind and let the stress and frustration that I have experienced subside and then it can often be that when I come back to it that the solution or the next step is obvious or becomes apparent. It is also important for me to remind myself when I am struggling to complete an endeavour/puzzle why I started it in the first place and what the motivation for doing it was as this can be a good way of pushing on through this difficult point(s) when motivation is flagging as this will remind me of the value and reward of completing this task/puzzle. Rewarding myself with a treat for completing a difficult task/puzzle in order to provide motivation when it is severely lacking or when the reward from completing the task/puzzle itself I feel is not enough motivation and this reward could vary or be greater depending on the difficulty I have completing the task with the more difficulty I have the better the reward I get. When the task is a complex one or that has a lot to it or will take a long time to complete and is overwhelming as a result then I can try to break it down into smaller segments, if possible, and do it a bit at a time which has worked for some puzzles I have done in the past as well as real-life tasks as smaller segments are less daunting to complete than larger ones usually. When the task that I am struggling with can be done with somebody else then that could be a way to make it more fun for me and maybe this person or people can help me solve or finish it off. I find it is important to remind myself that the task is possible even when it seems like it isn't and that there is a solution that others have successfully done and that eventually, I too should be able to solve it. A trick I have found useful is to try to remember a time when I have really struggled to overcome a challenge but in the end, managed to and it is even more helpful when this time or task was even more difficult and seemed more impossible than the one I am currently facing as this has been hugely motivating for me and stopped me from getting too discouraged and potentially quitting.


However, sometimes it is important for me to recognise when the time has come to give up or at least get help with a task such as when a brick wall is hit because I have exhausted every possible avenue I can think of to complete it by myself and it becomes a waste of time to continue further struggling as I am just repeating the same failures. If this happens with a puzzle then I can look for hints if they are provided like some puzzle books offer in order to help complete the challenges in it when stuck or I can check the full answers if there are no hints or the hints don't help and then hopefully this helps me to understand what I was doing wrong and what I should have done to get to the answer and to complete it. With puzzles that don't include hints or answers with them I can try to find articles or videos online about them that provide hints or failing that show the solution to help me solve or understand how to solve the puzzle I can't do by myself. Another reason to quit a task or puzzle would be there are other tasks or puzzles that would be of more value doing and completing and I may only realise this when I have done a significant portion of the task or puzzle that the reward for completing it is small or a lot smaller than I thought it would be and that it would better for me to stop and switch to a task or puzzle that offers a far greater reward. Sometimes simply not enjoying a task especially a puzzle when there are no serious consequences for not finishing it I think can be reason enough to quit as persevering for example with a puzzle that I find really boring or unenjoyable can put me off doing a similar puzzle in the future that I may enjoy and benefit from. Another reason to quit a task when there are no serious consequences for doing so could be when it is repetitive for example a puzzle book that presents one type of challenge. In this example, there could come a point when there is nothing new to be learnt or gained from continuing to do the same challenge over and over again especially if the difficulty level doesn't increase or the challenge doesn't vary in any way and therefore it may be better for me to quit and find a new challenge rather than ploughing on and risk starting to hate the type of challenge set. A reason to quit and not persevere to the end with a task when there are no serious consequences for doing so could also be when it takes too long, for example, some puzzles can go on for hours such as a board game. With this example, it can sometimes be important to cut a board game short so at least a winner can be determined and the game brought to some sort of resolution as it may be too much to ask of the other people who are playing the board game to play it for several hours which is what it might take to complete the game or that the people I am playing it with will not be staying with me long enough to finish it then and there. I do find it is important with a lot of tasks or puzzles that even when I fail to complete them and quit that I can claim that I gave it my best shot and did everything I could to complete them as this will ensure they were ultimately productive endeavours as I am practising and instilling persistence which will likely pay off for future endeavours I struggle with but that could also have big rewards for doing so.


In conclusion, it is clear that perseverance is an essential skill for me to have for both puzzles and in the real world and that puzzles can be a fun way to help me to improve this skill and this improvement could then benefit me in the real world such as at work so it is very important that whatever I am trying to achieve or do that I don't give up easily as almost always there is some sort of reward in doing this.

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