Grit Test Yourself (And Can You Increase Grit?)
So, how are those New Years Resolutions coming along?
Right about now, the January gym crowd starts to thin. The shrink wrap mysteriously disappears from that box of sweets we received as a holiday gift. Our Don’t Break the Chain calendars seem to be missing a link or two. That bookmark in War and Peace is holding strong on page 23.
Goals are hard. Want to know how I know that? Next time you’re in a bookstore, notice the entire aisles of books devoted to some variation on goals and achieving them. A quick web search turns up thousands of pages with printables, methods, tricks and hacks to help us better achieve goals.
No need to go through all of that stuff, though. Dr. Angela Duckworth, psychology professor at Penn, has identified the most consistent predictor of success. It’s not IQ, it’s not EQ (emotional intelligence, although psychologists have identified EQ as a biggie as well), it’s not socioeconomic status or gender.
The most consistent trait among high-achievers is grit.
Researchers define grit as a combination of persistence toward a long-term goal, combined with a continuous interest in the goal.
Science has identified grit as a more solid predictor of achievement across a many facets of life and work. Score on the grit scale has predicted academic achievement better than IQ scores. Additionally, grit has predicted the probability that men will stay married better than personality measures, as well as things like exercise behavior change, retention in the military and math success among diverse populations.
Grit test yourself
So, to get on course and stay there, we want to be gritty. To see where you fall on the grit scale, you can take this short quiz developed by Duckworth et al.
Okay, knowing where we stand is half of it. Is there anything we can do to bump up our grit score? I have a few minimally researched, completely untested and intuition-only ideas on things that might improve our grit.
Practice being uncomfortable
There is this idea that pursuing a passion is all unicorns and rainbows. Even when following a passion, some moments are simply not fun. We have to practice getting through the drudgery to have a healthy perspective on what our goals require from us.
When we do something unpleasant and live through it, we become slightly more comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’s easier every time. Part of grit is working through those less than agreeable moments to see it through.
Fail a lot
We were taught from a very young age to avoid the big red F on the paper. But, failure shouldn’t be seen as defeat. It’s just learning about one more way something will not work. As long as we file away the failure and refer to it so we do not repeat our mistakes, we end up closer to reaching our goal than we were before.
Failure is the key to success; each mistake teaches us something. -Morihei Ueshiba
Abandon systems, not the goal
Even though gritty people are persistent, they likely do not repeat the same ineffective methods over and over again. Recognizing the need to adjust systems or even throw them out completely to try a new way — that’s just plain smart. Trying a new path is probably fine as long as persistence and interest in the goal remains intact.
Keep at it
Not much more to say on that. Don’t quit. Simple.
Renew your passion
Let’s go back to what lit the fire in the first place. When we hit a bump, it’s easy to focus on the obstacles and push our “why” to the side. Remembering why our goal once occupied so much of our minds in the beginning can keep us focused on the endgame.
Find excitement within the process
I know, I was just talking about the endgame. But there have to be some pretty great things about the process. If a painter only wanted art for the wall, he could print something off of the internet. It’s in watching something come to life that awakens us.
If you haven’t seen Angela Duckworth’s TED talk on grit, you can watch it here. It’s a good one!
Originally published at intentionalish.com on January 14, 2016.