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The Complete Guide to Developing Your Grit

A realistic method for achieving your goals

Patrik Edblad
Apr 14, 2017 · 9 min read
Photo: Tyson Dudley, Unsplash

Do you know the feeling?

You’re all fired up about a big goal you want to accomplish.

What Is Grit?

Grit is one of the hottest concepts in psychology right now. Researchers are studying how athletes can develop more mental toughness, how teachers can foster grit in their students, and how people like you and me can build grit into their daily lives.

Photo: Crystian Cruz

Grit Is Crucial for Success

Duckworth has studied grit in a variety of different areas. Her research has shown that:

  • Ivy League undergraduate students who had more grit also had higher GPAs than their peers — even though they had lower SAT scores.
  • Soldiers with high grit were more likely to than their peers to complete demanding military training.
  • When comparing two people who are the same age, it’s not intelligence but grit that more accurately predicts who will be better educated.
  • Adults who are gritty are likelier to succeed at work and stay in their marriages.

1. Pursue Your Interests

As you may have noticed, it’s hard to stick to goals that don’t fascinate you. So, the first step to developing your grit is to find something interesting to spend your time on.

  • What activities absorbs me so much that I forget to eat and sleep?
  • If money wasn’t an issue, what would I spend my time doing?
  • Take a character strengths test, like the VIA Survey.
  • Email the people closest to you and ask what they think you should specialize in and why.

2. Practice, Practice, Practice

Hard work develops skill, and we’re more likely to stick with things we’re good at. Once you’ve found a deep interest, you need to get consistently better at it. Specifically, you need to engage in what scientists call deliberate practice.

3. Connect to a Higher Purpose

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

4. Cultivate Hope

According to Duckworth, gritty people are hopeful. But they don’t sit around wishing for good things to happen. Instead, they have an active kind of hope. They believe things will get better because they are going to make them better:

5. Surround Yourself with Gritty People

Human beings are social creatures, and we affect each other much more than we are consciously aware of. For instance, we pick up other people’s emotions by automatically mimicking and synchronizing with their expressions, vocalizations, postures, and movements. As a result, we soon start feeling like they do. Psychologists refer to this as emotional contagion.

Summary

Grit is the “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” A gritty person has the ability and zeal to stick to long-term goals and keeps going despite adversity.

  1. Practice, practice, practice. We like doing what we’re good at. Use deliberate practice to improve every day.
  2. Connect to a higher purpose. Find your “why,” and consistently remind yourself of it.
  3. Cultivate hope. Develop a growth mindset, and use empowering language to support it.
  4. Surround yourself with gritty people. Their beliefs, feelings, and behaviors will infect you.

Further Reading

  1. Grit: Perseverance and Passion for Long-Term Goals,” Angela L. Duckworth, Christopher Peterson, Michael D. Matthews, and Dennis R. Kelly
  2. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth
  3. Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise, Anders Ericsson
  4. The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance,” K. Anders Ericsson, Ralf Th. Krampe, and Clemens Tesch-Romer
  5. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol S. Dweck
  6. Neuroplasticity,” Stephanie Liou
  7. Emotional Contagion,” Elaine Hatfield, John T. Cacioppo, and Richard L. Rapson
  8. Goal Contagion: Perceiving Is for Pursuing,” H. Aarts, P.M. Gollwitzer, and R.R. Hassin
  9. The Spread of Obesity in a Large Social Network over 32 Years,” N.A. Christakis, J.H. Fowler

Better Humans

Better Humans is a collection of the world's most trustworthy writing on human potential and self improvement by coaches, academics, and aggressive self-experimenters. Articles are based on deep personal experience, science, and research. No fluff, book reports, or listicles.

Thanks to Coach Tony

Patrik Edblad

Written by

I write about timeless ideas and science-backed strategies to feel great and perform at your very best. Get more from me at https://www.patrikedblad.com

Better Humans

Better Humans is a collection of the world's most trustworthy writing on human potential and self improvement by coaches, academics, and aggressive self-experimenters. Articles are based on deep personal experience, science, and research. No fluff, book reports, or listicles.

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