be stubborn where it counts
What image does the word '“stubborn” conjure up for you?
For me, it used to be a toddler having a tantrum on the floor of the supermarket, refusing to move and turning into a floppy dead-weight when their parents try to hustle them out of there.
Until recently, I would not have described myself as "stubborn". I'm open minded and pretty relaxed. I have opinions, but I don’t mind when they are challenged; I will listen others and consider their perspective, and I'm not ashamed to back down or change my mind.
But I have discovered that there is a different version of being stubborn to my old perception, and that I am living it.
From finding myself alone in India with a walking stick, to leaving my own business, I’ve made some bold choices in the last few years. When people have asked why I’ve done such things when there are so many reasons not to, I’ve unthinkingly found myself saying that it has turned out that I am a little bit stubborn; if I really want something I will do what I can to make it happen.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘stubborn’ as being persistent in doing something.
”Having or showing dogged determination not to change one's attitude or position on something, especially in spite of good arguments or reasons to do so.”
The word is thought to have originated in the sense of ‘untameable’ or ‘implacable’, and synonyms include: persistent, resolute, steadfast, tenacious, and purposeful.
Stubborn for the modern day
The truth is, being stubborn can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you use it. Wielded mindfully, stubbornness can be a powerful tool:
It is being doggedly determined to meet your goals.
It is persistence and tenacity.
It is being resolute about your purpose, and steadfast in your pursuit of it.
It does not need to mean inflexible; after all, things that are rigid are more prone to breaking. You can be stubborn without being closed-minded or uncompromising.
In her book, “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance”, Dr. Angela Duckworth outlines her research into the correlation between grit and happiness. She found that the amount of strength and courage we exhibit in life influences how content we feel. As such, if we can learn to cultivate both our interests or passions alongside stubborn perseverance, we will positively impact our ability succeed.
It is this stubborn determination and grit that we witness in the women around us who fight for equal pay and opportunities, who fight sexual assault and discrimination, and so much more. We see it in the women who stand up for their beliefs, even when society tells them that being a stubborn woman in a bad thing.
how to Be stubborn
To be stubborn is to persist despite opposition. It is to fight for the things you strongly believe in. If you have a stubborn streak you’re likely to have drive and passion as well as faith in the things that are most important to you, believing that these things are worthy of your commitment to them.
It is defining what it is you want, formulating a plan of how to get there, and persisting in working towards it.
Only you know what matters so much to you to be a bit stubborn about it. For me, it is feeling happy… but not just any kind of happy (because, after all happiness is different for everyone). I want to feel content, peaceful and fulfilled. I value the frequency of small joys rather than the intensity of big moments. I want to keep trying to do the things that make me happy, such as travelling, despite increasing mobility issues. I want to spend time with the people I love and whom I feel confident love me back.
It might sound a bit boring, but after a turbulent decade and with a progressive debilitating illness, my values have shifted and I know that preserving these things are worth doing whatever is needed.
They are my way of choosing myself, long-term.
For you, you might feel the need to be a bit stubborn about pursuing a career goal, whether through employment or as a business owner. Perhaps you are not even sure yet what the thing you need to be a bit stubborn about is, you just know that something is not quite right at the moment, and want to spend some time working through what it is that you need to do to improve that.
BE STUBBORN: A MANIFESTO
We can all be happy in our work.
And we should be at least ‘happy enough’ in our work. It doesn't have to be the most important thing in our lives, but we spend a lot of time and energy there so it's nice to like it. I believe that with a little reflection, some determination and hard work, we can get what we want to out of our working lives.
You determine what success looks like for you.
It is NOT the same for everyone. It might be financial, time-related, or emotional. You might not even know until you get there. Just because some are 'hustling' and focusing on huge mailing lists and six-figure incomes doesn't mean you have to.
And just because some people only want to earn as much as they need, so long as they have the work-life balance they desire, doesn't mean you have to want that either. Find your own way.
Change is scary, but sometimes it is necessary. Be courageous.
It doesn't have to be dramatic, or happen all at once. But if you're not happy, and you want to be happy, you might need to change things. This takes courage but with support, it is do-able.
Create intentional thoughtful plans, if your goal is to love your work.
You dont have to be self-employed. You don't have to know exactly what you want. But both rushing into something, or never making change, can stand in the way of your happiness. Take your time, do some structured thinking, figure out what you want and what suits you and your life.
Work hard and follow through.
You don't need to know exactly what the end point will be when you start, but it is so helpful to have a plan to keep you focused and on track to find happiness. And when you have those things, you need some discipline to work hard and follow through. If you love what you're doing, passion and excitement will make that easy.
We might need to be a little stubborn, creative and flexible, but we can overcome obstacles.
Life is not straightforward. The path will never be without twists and turns and obstacles. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try, or that we should give up. We can overcome, or at the very least, learn something valuable and seek a compromise.
Your work environment should be supportive and non-judgemental, free from fear.
It's not just about the work you do, it's about the whole picture. Don't put up with colleagues or communities that make you feel unhappy, undervalued, unsupported, and afraid. You are worth more. It's ok to crave more.
Know yourself. Be yourself.
All of which means, you need to try to know yourself, and be yourself. That's not always easy and might require some time and work in itself. But if you put in the effort, you might find that the answers, the goals and the work / life you desire will start to flow more easily. And - bonus! - you'll worry less about the 'should' and what everyone else is doing or thinking. Because if you know yourself, and you know you're doing your best, what else matters?