Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on November 27, 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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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]

Advertising

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? 5 Reasons Why Keeping a Mood Journal Is Good For Your Mental Health 5 Ways to Help Yourself Advance Your Mental Strength 13 Simple Habits to Cultivate Self-Compassion 5 Steps to Bounce Back Fast When Life Knocks You Down

Trending in Success Mindset

1 10 Willpower Hacks to Help Achieve Your Goals 2 15 Highly Successful People Who Failed On Their Way To Success 3 6 Reasons It’s Okay To Fail 4 How To Overcome Self Imposed Limitations For Goal Setting 5 Success In Reaching Goals Is Determined By Mindset

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 21, 2021

10 Willpower Hacks to Help Achieve Your Goals

10 Willpower Hacks to Help Achieve Your Goals

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“Willpower is essential to the accomplishment of anything worthwhile.” – Brian Tracy

“Just do it.” – Nike

The most important and satisfying things in life usually aren’t the easiest ones.

The good news: In today’s hyper-connected world, we have access to all the information we could want to help us achieve our future goals. We know what foods will make us healthier (would kale or quinoa be as popular without the internet and Dr. Oz? I think not). We can also estimate for ourselves the benefits of starting retirement savings early – and the implications for the lifestyles of our future selves (that boat at 65 means fewer vacations in your 20’s).

Advertising

We almost always know what we should do thanks to endless knowledge at our fingertips. But actually doing it is an entirely different kind of challenge. Most of us can relate to that feeling of inertia at the start of a big project, or the struggle to consistently make good, long-term choices for our health, or saving for the future. This mental tug-of-war we experience has evolutionary roots. While knowing this might bring comfort, it doesn’t help solve the problem at hand:

How can we flex our willpower to become better, faster, smarter, and stronger?

The bad news: you can’t Google your way out of this one.

Or can you? A fascinating body of research (much of which you can turn up online through popular press and academic articles) sheds light on how to hack your willpower for better, easier results in all areas of your life. The Willpower Instinct, a great book by Stanford prof Kelly McGonigal, provides a deep dive into these and more topics for anyone keenly interested.

Here’s the short version: we can make the most of our willpower through two types of hacks. First, there are ways to turbo boost your willpower. Second, there are ways to hack the system so you make the best use of whatever (sometimes infinitely modest) willpower you have.

Advertising

The following 10 tips draw on both of these toolkits.

1. Slow the heck down.

Most regrettable decisions (the splurge at the mall, the procrastination on the project, the snacks in the break room) happen when one part of our brain effectively hijacks the other. We go into automatic pilot (and unfortunately the pilot in question has a penchant for shoes, Facebook and cookies!). Researchers suggest that we can override this system by charging up the other. That is, slow down and focus on the moment at hand. Think about your breathing. Bring yourself back to this moment in time, feel the compulsion but don’t act on it yet. Try telling yourself, “If this feeling is still just as uncomfortable in 10 minutes, I’ll act on it.” Take a little time to be mindful – then make your decision.

2. Dream of ‘done.’

Imagine yourself handing in the big project, soaking up the appreciation from your colleagues or boss. Or crossing the finish line for the half-marathon you’ve always wanted to run. The rush, the aliveness, the wind on your face, the medal …

That’s a lot more fun and motivating to think about than how much work it is to get out of bed for your long, Sunday morning run!

Re-orient your brain by summoning more motivating feelings than just “not running this morning is more enjoyable than running this morning.” If your goals are meaningful, this will help.

Advertising

3. Make your toughest choices first.

Scientists have found that willpower is like a full bathtub that’s drained throughout the day. So, why not start your toughest challenges when you have a full reserve? Get that project started or fit that workout in before you even check your email or have breakfast. Bonus: the high you’ll get from crossing off your hardest ‘to-do’ will help you sail through the rest of your day.

4. Progress = commitment, not a license to backslide.

A lot of times people will ‘cheat’ right after taking positive steps towards their goals. (A common version of this trap is, “I worked out three days in a row, so I deserve this cookie.”) Most of us can relate to this thinking – but it’s totally irrational! We’ll often trick ourselves into setbacks because we think we deserve them, even if we don’t really want them and deep down we know they’ll work against us in the long-run.

How can you counteract this effect? Research finds that if you use your positive streak to recommit (“If I worked out three days this week, I must be really committed to my health and fitness goal!”) rather than an excuse for wiggle room, we don’t take the same cheat options. Cool, right?

5. Meditate.

Meditation is an expressway to better willpower. Bringing your attention to your breathing for 15 minutes, or even five, flexes your willpower muscles by applying discipline to your thinking. It does this by working two mental ‘muscle groups’: first, the set of muscles that notice when your attention is drifting, and second, the set of muscles that bring you back to your task at hand. Over time, even small amounts of meditation will help you build the discipline to easily do what was once hard – like pushing through a long stretch at work.

6. Set mini-goals.

Which seems more doable: committing to three 20 minute runs this week or a half-marathon? Mini-goals are brilliant because they’re easier to achieve and boost your commitment to continuing. When we size them up, we see them as achievable rather than daunting. Each time you succeed at one, it boosts your sense of efficacy and personal integrity: not only are you capable of doing what you set out to do, but you followed through on it. Nice.

Advertising

The beauty of mini-goals is that over time, mini-goals – and the momentum you’ve built by doing them – can quickly turn into super-goals. So that half marathon might be more likely to happen, and sooner and more easily than you think!

7. Eat.

Low blood sugar decreases your ability to make tough decisions. If you’re running on empty physically, you’ll also be running on empty mentally. (Yes, this one’s somewhat ironic if your goal involves changing food patterns – but even so, letting your blood sugar drop too far will only sabotage you over time.)

8. Sleep.

Research shows people who don’t get enough sleep have a tough time exercising their willpower. Sleep is critical for a healthy brain – along with just about everything else. So to optimize your willpower muscle, make sure you’re catching your zzz’s.

9. Nix the self-sabotage.

Making yourself feel bad hurts, rather than helps, your willpower efforts. Researchers have found that compassion is a far better strategy than tough love – telling yourself “It’s OK, everyone has setbacks sometimes,” will help you bounce back more quickly than negative self-talk.

10. Take the first hard step.

As a new behavior becomes a habit, it is more natural. You have to use less and less willpower to ‘make it so.’ When you’re starting a new pattern that feels hard, remind yourself that the first steps are truly the hardest. It will probably never feel harder than it does in those first few choices. In the case of repeated behaviors, like exercise or saving money, it takes weeks for new habits to take hold. By that point, the habit will be so ingrained, you’d have to try hard not to do it.

Featured photo credit: Kym Ellis via unsplash.com

Read Next