Are you continually struggling with self-doubt and remaining persistent in your goals? Is fear holding you back?
Maybe you want to start a podcast, write a book, or pivot in your career, but the fear of failure is too crippling. You’re concerned about what other people may think of you if you miss the mark, so you figure it’s better not to try at all.
Fear can keep us from pursuing our dreams, but it doesn’t have to. In this post, I want to share a personal story about how perseverance helped me overcome fear and reach my career goals today.
Nothing else in this world can take the place of persistence — not talent, education, or status. When you don’t quit, you always win. It’s as simple as that. You may have to pivot, learn from setbacks, or experience extreme adversity, but if you keep at it, you’ll find yourself in a better place.
I learned three things from my own experience that can help anyone increase their persistence, and I would love to share those with you all today as well! These tips are simple and easy to implement in your daily life, so keep reading until the end to learn my advice for pushing through adversity. But first — let’s get into my story.
My Story of Perseverance Through My Medical EducationIf you listened to the first episode of the Millennial Doc podcast, you’re already familiar with a lot of my story. I started college at age 17, just one month after graduating from high school. I was in an accelerated program to finish my Bachelor of Science Degree in two years and become a physician within six years.
Before starting college with this accelerated program, I remember looking at the classes and credit hours each semester and thinking to myself, “How in the world is anyone actually able to do this? How is this even possible? How can anyone complete their Bachelor of Science in just two years with the most difficult science coursework?”
I was seriously about to throw in the towel before I’d even started. I remember lying on my bed at home and doubting myself completely. How in the world was I supposed to complete all these credit hours and manage to make good grades?
I was afraid, but I started the program anyway — the fact that I was just one hour away from home gave me some stability. To be honest, it wasn’t an easy first year; it was really tough. I had 12 credit hours in my first semester, then 23 hours in the fall, 25 in the spring, and 22 in the following summer. There were so many family events that I had to miss due to many long nights studying. I kept telling myself, “Just fake it until you make it,” which, by the way, is advice that I totally don’t believe in now. But back then, that’s what I told myself to keep working hard.
When I reflect on that time, one thing that I really do admire about my teenage self is that I never felt discouraged even if I did have to work twice as hard as anyone else to make an excellent grade. I never felt like I was inadequate. There were times I had to spend extra office hours with a professor or sign up for tutoring. This didn’t bother me because I wasn’t focused on the moment — I was focused on the end result. Setbacks would happen, but I kept pushing myself through them.
What I had was persistence. I received a 70% on my first Calculus test, studied even harder, and then on the next exam, I made a 105%. I went to tutoring every single week and didn’t care what my classmates thought. I had the perseverance and determination to overcome every challenge that came my way.
That doesn’t mean that I never felt alone or struggled. I remember thinking that nobody in my family quite understood what I was going through and why I was working so hard. There weren’t any physicians in my family, so I had to be resourceful. I wasn’t afraid to ask for help, and I was constantly seeking the advice of mentors.
I had a goal, and I was determined to accomplish it — no matter how hard it got. Even when I had to take the MCAT multiple times, I told myself, “Nikoleta, this exam doesn’t mean you won’t become an excellent doctor. This failure does not define who you are.” Again, this was a hard year for me, probably one of the most challenging years of my academic life. But it was also a year of immense personal growth. I was rejected over and over again, and I think many people would have quit at that point. But I didn’t.
Micahel Jordan, one of the most talented basketball players of all time, said this: “I can accept failure, and everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” Those words encouraged me during this difficult time, motivating me to try harder and harder. My confidence pushed me forward, and my perseverance gave me the stamina I needed to succeed.
Fear will always be cured by forced repetition of acts of courage. When you step out of your comfort zone over and over again, that fear gets smaller, and you become stronger. I took the MCAT exam multiple times until I achieved the score I needed, and I really believe that those setbacks made me a stronger, more resilient person.
When the next trial came, I was more prepared. I overcame that negative mindset of self-doubt and replaced it with an attitude of, “I can do this.” I really believe that perseverance is one of my strongest assets as a physician, as a mom, and as a person — because when you don’t quit, you win.
Three Tips to Increase Your Persistence and Reach Your Goals
I’m so excited to share these tips with you because I think we all need to remind ourselves of how to Step Out with Confidence®, even when things are hard. If you’re struggling right now with medical training, being a mom, or starting a business, know that I understand. I’ve been there. But, I also want you to know that it’s not always going to be this way. Things will get better, and this experience will make you stronger.
These tips will increase your persistence and help you not quit when things get rough. They helped me become the dermatologist that I am today, and I know that they can help you achieve your goals, too!
Persistence Tip #1: Don’t Let Others’ Thoughts Define Your Actions
This one is huge: Don’t worry so much about what other people think of you. When we let other people’s opinions shape us, we are no longer ourselves. We stop pursuing our passions, and instead, we conform to what other people think we should be doing. Guys, this is not a happy existence. It completely deflates our confidence. Instead, stick to your values and do your best not to let others’ opinions influence who you are. Just be you!
Persistence Tip #2: Keep a Positive Mental Attitude
When you’re going through something difficult, the last thing you need is a negative mindset. If you’re telling yourself thoughts like, “I’m not worthy, I can’t do this, I’ll never succeed,” then you’re setting yourself up for failure. On the other hand, if you affirm yourself with thoughts such as, “I am worthy. I can do this. I will succeed,” then you’ll have the determination you need to reach your goals!
Persistence Tip #3: Build a Community of Support
A supportive community is so important, and it’s something that everyone needs to thrive. Notice that I say, “supportive.” Some people will just bring you down and actually keep you from accomplishing your goals. When you surround yourself with pessimistic people, you’ll start becoming just like them — and cynicism is a roadblock on your journey to success. Instead, surround yourself with a community of people who will encourage you, motivate you, and support you!
This is what the Millennial Doc podcast is all about! I want us to lift each other up in the world and inspire each other in our healthcare professions and careers! This community will always be there for you. So if you ever need any support, encouragement, or advice, know that you can always come here.
How Will You Step Out with Confidence® Today?
I hope my story and these three tips give you the courage you need to persist through adversity and achieve your goals! And if you’re really, really struggling today, please know that it won’t always be like this. There is hope! You just have to keep moving forward.
As I wrote above, I created the Millennial Doc podcast for the community aspect, and so I would love to hear about what trials you all are facing and how I can support you! Please tag me on Instagram, @drnikoleta, and let me know about the things you will NOT let defeat you! What will it take for you to continue to persevere? I would love to hear your stories!
And if you enjoy the podcast, I’d be so grateful if you would share it with someone and leave me a five-star review on Apple Podcasts. Every review helps us get the word out and include more women like you in our community!
I’ll leave you with this last question: What next step will you take in your life to be persistent?
I love you all so much! Your hard work will bear fruit, and this Millenial Doc community will always be here to support you.