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Published on September 2, 2020

What Is Grit and How to Develop It for a Successful Life

What Is Grit and How to Develop It for a Successful Life

Have you ever met someone who thrives through adversity, and who transforms their pain into opportunities for growth? In her book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth describes these types of people as possessing grit. From her research, she has found that grit is what separates those who are successful from those who fail.

So, what is grit, you may ask?

Passion + Perseverence = Achievement

In the words of Angela Duckworth herself,

“Grit is sticking with your future, day in and day out, and not just for the week, not just for the month, but years.”

The problem that a lot of people face is that they seek the shortcut to success. They want to work less while still achieving more. Unfortunately, that’s not how success works.

If you want to achieve your goals, you have to be willing to do anything and everything. I believe that the most meaningful goals require an insane amount of hard work, determination, discipline, commitment, and sacrifice. But get real with yourself — are you ready to go all-in? How bad do you want to succeed?

Why Is Grit Important?

Nothing of value in life comes easily. Success is never a coincidence.

Research indicates that the ability to be gritty — to stick with things that are important to you and bounce back from failure — is an essential component of success.[1]

You can have all the talent in the world, but you will never achieve your goals without effort. This is why grit is the foundation of success.

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What Are the Characteristics of Grit?

The good news is that grit can be developed and mastered over time. However, you first need to adopt a growth mindset. Unfortunately, many people have a fixed mindset.

They are conditioned to believe that their intelligence cannot improve. While a fixed mindset is based in “I can” or “I can’t,” a growth mindset celebrates the journey from “I can’t” to “I can.”[2]

Do you see your intelligence as fixed, or do you believe that you can grow and change?

Below are the characteristics of grit. Reflect upon the ones that you resonate with the most and still need to strengthen.

Passion

Where there is passion, there is always a purpose. Passionate people know themselves inside and out. They have a clear understanding of their values, beliefs, and needs.

More importantly, they live in alignment with their truth and inspire others to do the same. Living with passion is about paying attention to and following what makes you come alive inside.

Not everyone will understand your path in life, and that’s okay. True grit is being able to tune out others’ judgments and stay in your lane.

Perseverance

I’ve never met a strong person who had an easy-breezy past. Persevering, despite all odds, is about learning how to sit with your darkness and soften into the discomfort.

The only difference between those who succeed versus those who fail is their willingness to persevere and continue failing forward. It’s knowing that your desire to achieve your dreams burns brighter than any obstacle.

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Learn how to embrace discomfort and use pain as a tool to grow and become more. Celebrate yourself every step of the way and don’t stop until you’re insanely proud of the person you’ve become.

Resilience

Gritty people are resilient, in the sense that they thrive through adversity. They reframe every challenge as an opportunity and do the work to become the master of their emotions.

Research reveals that resilience is a test of how tough you are. Instead, it has everything to do with your willingness to keep trying after others have given up.[3]

Resilient people are conscious enough to know when it is time to surrender to the rollercoaster ride of life. Their ability to soften into what is can make room for what will be.

What Is an Example of Grit?

It was like any other day in my life. I got on my motorcycle and rode off. Because I was just going up the road, I decided not to wear my helmet. Little did I know that this sudden decision would change my entire life.

I was supposed to be back home in 15 minutes, but that didn’t happen. Five minutes into riding my bike, I had an accident. I hit my head on the pavement, suffered a traumatic brain injury, and was rushed to the hospital to undergo surgery.

I remember the moment like it was yesterday. This experience left me with PTSD, post-concussion syndrome, chronic pain, and anxiety.

However, it also gave me a second chance to recreate my life and develop unshakeable mental strength and grit.

It’s been three years since my accident. I’m not the same person that I used to be. I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. I chose to transform my pain into power. To this day, I continue to pull upon my grit. It has become my superpower.

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Let me be clear: I’m not special. I was just willing to do what was challenging for many. Giving up was never an option. How I have responded to my knockdowns has determined my success in life.

The obstacles that I faced along my healing journey (and still do to this day) had given me a strength that I never knew I had. Pain can be a gift if you are willing to find its meaning behind all the mess.

When you have the courage to use your pain as motivational strength, you will realize that there is nothing you cannot overcome.

How Do You Develop Grit?

Grit is like a muscle that you train and flex at the gym. You need to do the same thing with your mind. Let’s explore what you can do to build mental toughness every day.

1. Practice, Practice, Practice

The fastest way to master anything is to practice and repeat it. To persevere, you have to be willing to step outside of your comfort zone and try new things. This is how you flex your grit muscle.

At the end of the day, grit comes down to what habits you engage in daily. It’s about doing the things you know you’re supposed to do on a more consistent basis that will contribute to your success.[4]

The more that you invest in your personal growth, the more skilled you will become. In turn, you can keep doing the things that you excel at.

2. Connect With Your Purpose

Gritty people live on purpose.

After studying 16,000 people, Duckworth found that “grittier people are dramatically more motivated than others to seek a meaningful, other-centered life.”[5]

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The next time that you encounter an obstacle that tries to take you off course, reconnect with your why. It will be the one thing that motivates you to keep moving forward, even when you feel like throwing in the towel.

3. Don’t Give Up

When things get difficult, do you give up easily or use your low moments to push yourself forward and become stronger?

Gritty people look a challenge dead in the eye and give it a wink. They don’t quit until they win.

The only failure in life is quitting. Life is supposed to be messy. You’re supposed to fail. It’s a core part of the human experience. All that matters is how you respond to failure.

It’s okay if you fall seven times, as long as you make sure that you stand up on the eighth time. If you can master the art of never giving up, there is no limit to what you can achieve in life.

The Bottom Line

You have one life, so make it a masterpiece.

The only limitations standing in your way are the ones in your mind. When you master your mind, you master your life.

Don’t ever give up on your dreams. Strive to be a gritty person in every area of your life.

Your future self will thank you for it.

More on Showing Your Grit

Featured photo credit: Jack Sloop via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Ashley Elizabeth

Resilience Mastery Coach and Motivational Speaker

What Motivates You to Succeed in Life and Keep Moving Forward? The Effects of Stress on Your Body And Mind (You Never Knew) How to Overcome Fear and Find Success (The Ultimate Guide) what is grit What Is Grit and How to Develop It for a Successful Life How to Train Your Brain to Be Optimistic

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Published on September 25, 2020

5 Powerful Self-Care Ideas for When Life Is Stressful

5 Powerful Self-Care Ideas for When Life Is Stressful

Stress doesn’t discriminate. It affects everyone, invariably in different ways. Regardless of how stress shows up in your life, I think we can all agree that it’s present. When it does show up, it takes over the show. It then becomes difficult to stay in the present moment or show gratitude for what and who we have in our life. In the eye of the stress storm, everything is tossed around into oblivion. This is probably when self-care finally comes to our mind.

How Does Stress Show Up?

On a physical scale, stress tends to be behind many of our typical ailments, such as headaches, insomnia, muscle tension, or body aches and pain.[1] When we’re in stressful situations, our body activates our fight-or-flight response. According to the American Institute of Stress, when the body is in this mode due to stress, “the body’s sympathetic nervous system is activated due to the sudden release of hormones. The sympathetic nervous system stimulates the adrenal glands, triggering the release of catecholamines, which include adrenaline and noradrenaline. This results in an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate.”[2]

Why is this important? While our fight-or-flight response is extremely helpful when we’re in situations that risk our survival, not every situation is that dire. However, the body doesn’t know how to differentiate between such scenarios. Rather, we become accustomed to seeing every stressful situation as dire, and essentially locked into this fight-or-flight response automatically. This causes us to burn out because our body is constantly fighting or fleeing from threats that are not causing us any real harm.

On a mental and emotional scale, according to the Mayo Clinic, “Stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior.” Everything is interconnected. When our physical body takes a toll due to stress, this has a domino effect on how we process our thoughts and feelings. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see correlations between depression and anxiety when it comes to dealing with stress.

How to Combat Stress?

Below are five self-care ideas for combating stress in your life. Consider implementing them into your daily routine for the best results.

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1. Start a Brain Dump Writing Exercise

When you’re overwhelmed with thoughts, it can become very difficult to stay present and focused. This could affect you at work, in school, or in your relationships. It’s as if your mind were filled to the brim with thoughts that are constantly competing for your attention. If left unattended, this can affect your performance or your state of being. Stress is just brewing!

One exercise to get this under control is called a Brain Dump, and it’s exactly how it sounds. Start by getting comfortable with a pen and paper or your favorite journal. Without any special formatting or introduction, just start writing any and all thoughts that come up. Consider your paper a blank canvas onto which you’re going to spill every thought, no matter how small or unimportant. This can look like a laundry list, a jumble of words, or a paragraph. Don’t think too much of how it looks. The idea is to give your thoughts an exit. Once they’re on paper, they’re no longer swimming in your head for attention.

Once you have them written down, leave them as they are. We have a tendency to want to fix our thoughts. Instead, allow them to simply exist as they are — they’re not right or wrong. Consider coming back to this exercise daily or whenever you feel like you have a lot on your mind.

2. Sweat It Out

There is nothing more therapeutic than moving the physical body when it feels the weight of stress. Energetically, we carry our day in our body! If we’ve had a particularly difficult day, that energy is going to feel tense and unsettling. This is why it’s so important to move and really break a sweat!

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America,[3]

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“Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem.”

Find what exercise regimen works for you, and commit to it for a few days per week. Scientists have also found that even 10-15 minutes of aerobic exercise can have a tremendous effect on your body. Go for a run, take a spin class or a power yoga class, or dance the stress away in Zumba. Whatever gets your heart rate up and breaks a sweat is one of the perfect self-care ideas to keep the stress away.

3. Seek the Care of a Therapist

Sometimes writing out our thoughts and feelings doesn’t seem quite enough. This is common and to be expected. After all, we are complex human beings who want to understand and process our emotions on a deeper level. This is why having a regular therapy session is so beneficial!

In the presence of a professional, we can open up about what stressful situations we’re going through. We don’t have to keep our emotions bottled up, and we know that our honesty will be protected and safeguarded.

Additionally, when we’re feeling stressed, we often want to simply vent and get things off of our chest. Having someone on the receiving end who will simply listen and hold space is a truly healing gift. We can often leave the session feeling more empowered, seen, and offloaded of the stress we brought in.

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Lastly, we may be able to receive guidance from our therapist on a particular situation we’re struggling with. Having someone else’s perspective on something we’re too emotionally close to can be just the right solution.

Here are more self-care ideas from a therapist: Self Care Tips During Difficult Times (A Therapist’s Advice).

4. Interrupt Your Day

This may seem like a derailing technique, but give it a shot! Interrupting your day means introducing something entirely new or random into a routine that is very monotonous or typical.

If your work or school day is the same sequence of events every single day, bringing in an interruption can be quite conducive to your productivity and creativity. This can look like pausing in the middle of the day for a yoga stretch at your desk or in your office. It could be playing your favorite playlist in-between meetings or taking a walk outside for lunch. Not only does this stir up new energy for your day, but it can also de-stress your day.

As I said in the earlier tip, when we’re too close to a situation or conflict, we have a harder time breaking away. We’re so emotionally and mentally invested that we don’t see how that proximity is affecting our health. So, interrupt yourself when you’re feeling stress coming on, and do something fun, random, and refreshing.

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5. Get Some Energy Work Done

Energy work is anything that is being done to improve the circulation and energetic flow of the body. This could be a massage, Reiki session, chiropractic adjustment, or acupuncture. As I said in a previous tip, moving the body helps move the energy that is blocked or stuck. This is why exercise is so important. However, sometimes we need a session where that work is done for us by a licensed professional. In such treatments, we have the luxury to relax and receive the benefits of the treatment. It’s a beautiful way to self-care!

Final Thoughts

Stress is unfortunately a common part of our life. It affects everyone, but to what extent it affects you is personal. One thing is for sure, and that is that stress has a tremendous effect on our physical, mental, and emotional state. This is why regular exercise is so important, as well as mental stimulation and emotional release. These self-care ideas won’t necessarily guard you from ever feeling stressed, but they will help you manage it better.

More Self-Care Ideas

Featured photo credit: Alisa Anton via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Mayo Clinic: Stress Management
[2] The American Institute of Stress: How the Fight or Flight Response Works
[3] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Physical Activity Reduces Stress

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