Do you stick to your long-term goals? Or do you constantly get distracted by new ideas and projects?
Do you keep showing up when things get difficult? Or do you procrastinate and give up?
Your answers to these questions are important because they say a lot about the level of success you’re likely to experience in life.
“80% of success is showing up”
That quote belongs to legendary actor, author, filmmaker, comedian, playwright, and musician Woody Allen (1).
When giving advice to aspiring writers, he elaborated on his statement this way (2):
My observation was that once a person actually completed a play or a novel he was well on his way to getting it produced or published, as opposed to a vast majority of people who tell me their ambition is to write, but who strike out on the very first level and indeed never write the play or book.
Some people talk. They are the ones who “strike out” and get stuck.
Other people do. They are the ones who make consistent progress and get real results.
So, what separates these two groups from each other? In one word, the answer is…
In short, grit is “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” (3)
The psychological definition of grit contains two components:
- The ability to stick to long-term goals.
- The ability to keep going despite adversity.
Angela Duckworth is a professor of psychology and pioneer in grit research.
In study after study, she has found that “where talent counts once, effort counts twice.” (4)
She explains that finding with this formula:
TALENT x EFFORT = SKILL
SKILL x EFFORT = ACHIEVEMENT
When you apply effort to a talent, you get a skill. And when you apply effort to a skill, you get achievement.
Without effort, your talent is just untapped potential.
And without effort, your skill is just something you could’ve done, but never did.
That is why grit counts twice, and that is why it’s such an important factor.
5 Ways to Grow Your Grit
Grit is the best predictor of success that researchers have found.
It helps kids do better in school, high-school students graduate, university students get higher grades, soldiers follow through on demanding military training, and adults succeed at work and stay in their marriages (5).
No matter what long-term goals you’re trying to achieve, you need grit to get there.
And the good news is that you can grow your grit.
By looking at life as a marathon rather than a sprint, and by developing certain factors that are indirectly connected to grit, you can realize your potential. Here’s how:
1. Pursue Your Interests
You’re going to have a hard time sticking to goals that don’t fascinate you.
So, the first step to growing your grit is to find something interesting.
But that doesn’t mean sitting around thinking about what your passion is.
According to Angela Duckworth, it’s much more efficient to get out there and try different things until you’ve found something you’re passionate about.
Once you’ve done that, it’s time to find a role model, mentor or coach to help you improve.
2. Practice, Practice, Practice
Hard work leads to competence, and we’re much more likely to stick with things we’re good at.
The most gritty people always want to improve, no matter what it takes or how good they already are.
So, when you’ve found your interest, put in the work to get a little bit better every day.
Compete with who you were yesterday.
Do a slightly harder workout. Meditate a little longer. Stick with a boring task even though you don’t want to.
Consider these challenges mental resistance training.
3. Connect to a Higher Purpose
People who connect what they do to a higher purpose are grittier.
It’s not enough to have a compelling interest.
You also have to take a step back and understand how what you do contribute to the well-being of others.
That is not only useful for increasing your grit. It also helps you enjoy the task more.
So, reflect on how what you do benefit the people around you.
4. Cultivate Hope
If you want to reach your goals, you first need to believe it’s possible.
Limiting beliefs about your abilities being fixed and unalterable affects your grit negatively.
And they are also plain wrong.
Research has shown that you have the possibility to change your brain and learn new skills throughout your life.
Your brain is “plastic”(6), and you can reshape it through effort and experience.
So, go after your goals with the belief that you can improve if you work hard at it.
Because you can.
5. Surround Yourself With Gritty People
The people around you have a huge influence on your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
When you spend enough time with a particular group of people the way, they do things become the way you do things.
Their norms and values will rub off on you and become your new standard.
So, one of the most efficient ways to grow your grit is a kind of positive peer pressure.
Surround yourself with gritty people, and it’s only a matter of time before you’re just as gritty yourself.
How to Grow Your Grit, In Summary
Grit is the stubborn refusal to quit. — Jonah Lehrer
Successful people stick with their long-term goals instead of getting distracted, and they keep showing up, even when it’s difficult.
If you lack those abilities, you can grow your grit in these five ways:
- Pursue your interests. Find something that fascinates you.
- Practice, practice, practice. Get a little bit better every day.
- Connect to a higher purpose. Ask yourself how you are helping other people.
- Cultivate hope. Remove your inaccurate, limiting beliefs.
- Surround yourself with gritty people. Create positive peer pressure.
80% of success is showing up. With that in mind, what will you stop talking about and start doing?
- Woody Allen
- On Language; The Elision Fields
- Grit: Perseverance and Passion for Long-Term Goals
- Grit: Passion, Perseverance, and the Science of Success by Angela Duckworth
- The grit effect: predicting retention in the military, the workplace, school and marriage
Picture by Francesco Gallarotti.