The single most important factor that determines whether someone will complete large projects like the thesis may be persistence, which means the ability to continue working despite obstacles or challenges along the way. An emerging research literature on persistence has found that ability or talent are not the most important factors in determining success. Instead, it is something researchers have termed “grit,” or the ability to persist despite setbacks. There are important distinctions between persistence and procrastination, although both affect completion of large projects.
Procrastination is characterized by the following:
- The avoidance of daily tasks
- Difficulty starting tasks
- Inability to remain on tasks once work has started
- Relying on deadlines to prompt work
- Easily distracted by unimportant tasks
Persistence is characterized by the following:
- The ability to work over extended periods of time despite challenges
- The resiliency to overcome challenges and obstacles
- The self-control necessary to resist distractions
- Experiencing the long-term goal as meaningful, important, and “worth it”
- A commitment to keep working whenever despite self-doubts
- Perceiving yourself as “in charge” of the work irrespective of challenges
The ability to be persistent is a skill that can be developed with practice. You will want to identify challenges you may have experienced with persistence in the past and consider ways to strengthen these skills.