Four Steps For Using Your Persistence to Solve a Problem: Then Put it into Action!

When solving a problem, whether personal or academic, we must engage our “Decision-Making Brain/Neocortex” that is right behind our forehead. This is the part of the brain that is involved in the key executive functions of your brain like “evaluating, planning, implementing, monitoring, and making adjustments to overcome problems.”[1]

Four Steps For Using Your Persistence to Solve a Problem:

  1. Evaluate the Problem: What needs to be done to complete the problem? Do you know the steps to follow? If not, can you find someone to help you?
  2. Planning: As you begin to think, your frontal lobe will begin to create some strategies. What is my end goal? How do I know when I have achieved it? What must I do next?
  3. Implementing: As you begin to solve the problem using your chosen strategy, it’s your decision-making part of your brain that keeps you focused on the outcome. Notice what happens to you at this stage. How do you persist through to solve the problem? What helps you to keep going? What happens when you are stuck? Do you give up or keep going? What motivates you to keep going?
  4. Monitor and Adjust: Did you complete the problem? If not, what must you do to keep persisting? What adjustments do you need to make?

With practice, you can train yourself to recognize each of these four decision-making steps and with self-awareness you will see what you must adjust and monitor to get to your end goal.

Ask yourself?  

What happens to you when you become stuck solving a problem? What you do naturally do? What NEW strategies can you implement to persist and blast through where you usually are stuck?

The Meaning of Persistence

Oxford Dictionary defines “Persistence” as Continuing in an opinion or course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.[2]

Similar words for persistence are perseverance, tenacity, determination, resolve, staying power, patience, endurance, diligence, tirelessness, patience.

Persistence Activity for the Classroom

Find a partner and solve this problem using persistence for scheduling work shifts.


Download the worksheet here and complete this problem with your students grades 6 and up.

Here is the shift scheduler for your students to begin their plan.

Here is the answer key.

Dick’s Sporting Goods is a popular sporting store in Arizona. The manager is having a lot of troubling managing his employees because the employees are available to work only at certain times. The store is open from 9:00 A.M. until 9:00 P.M. At least one person must be working at all times. The busiest times in the store are Fridays through Sundays between 2:00 P.M. and 9:00 P.M. Each employee’s shift (the time spent at work on a given day) typically lasts four hours. The employees are all high school or college students and cannot work more than 15 hours per week.

There are ten employees: Agnes, Arturo, Cassandra, Edward, Hannah, Luther, Marcus, Megan, Olivia, and Tyrone. Using the shift scheduler, can you help design a schedule that works for everyone? [3]

[1] Mark Robert Waldman and Chris Manning “Neurowisdom: The New Brain Science of Money, Happiness and Success” ( Diversion Books, January 2017 Chapter 7 on Decision-Making).

[2] Oxford Online


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