On Being Relentless

My Fiancé and I recently went to see the new Terminator film. Living up the the adrenalized pursuit of the first two films, the new Rev-9 model in “Terminator Dark Fate” is the most murderous yet. After reflection, it occurred to the that part of what makes the terminators terrifying and so effective at, well…terminating, is their relentlessness. Now, this might be a hokey revelation (it definitely is), but I think it can be a jumping off point none-the-less.

Relentlessness can be defined as “mercilessness characterized by an unwillingness to relent or let up.”

Part 1: Mercilessness

While I would not argue for mercilessness with our relationships to others, I would advocate for mercilessness when it comes to pursing an aim that is meaningful to you. By this I mean you must decide what is worth your time and what is not, and rather than having guilt over setting those boundaries, you should be merciless in your unwillingness to spend your time on distractions, petty dramas, or self pity during your pursuit. For example, if I decide my family is priority over work – I should mercilessly decide that things that take me from my dedicated family time be eliminated. If those tasks cannot be eliminated, then I must be merciless in my work during the day to complete the tasks necessary. This way, I can come home and have my uninterrupted family time.


Part 2: Unwilling to Relent or Let Up.

Furthermore, we should be “unwilling to relent or let up,” in our mercilessness and our work towards our goals. If I decide I am going to train 4 days a week towards a strength goal, but I let up too often, fail to mercilessly prioritize, and thusly don’t stay relentless towards my aim, I won’t meet my goal. This is not to say that we cannot fall and get back up, certainly we do – we get sick, have to attend and unexpected funeral, a sudden deadline at work appears, etc. these things are out of our range of control and all we can do is be adaptive, get back up, and keep trying.  

However, we cannot make failure of mindset a habit – every time you hit snooze, every time you allow yourself to be 5 minutes late to class, every-time you say “fuck it, one more shot” and wind up so hungover the day after that you miss a training session – you’ve thrown in the towel willingly. It doesn’t do us any good to be merciless 50 % of the time, so we must be unwilling to let up.

Part 3: Wisdom in Action!

Lastly, by pulling from both examples we can see that relentlessness is both knowing when to say yes to priorities and when to say no to distractions. It is not blind allegiance to dogma or stiffness rather it is intuitive, adaptive, and goal oriented behavior executed consistently. Sometimes we have to change course and being wise enough to know the difference between quitting and rationally turning away from something that is not good for you is integral to developing your relentlessness. For example, you may be in a job you hate – is it a stepping stone, or are you staying there becasue you are afraid to cut the cord and move on to a job that gets you closer to your goals?



In real life, being relentless is a state of mind that can give you the strength to achieve, to survive, to overcome, to be strong when others are not. The ability to be relentless is in all of us." Tim Grover

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