You may have laid out your goals for 2019 in a list or a vision board, but however you’ve captured your intentions for the year, some aspirations may fall through the cracks. It can be defeating to achieve less than you’d planned, but you should avoid chalking it up to innate talent or lack thereof. Intelligence and talent aren’t the primary factors important for success. What is a crucial ingredient? Grit. That’s why the resolution topping our list this year is cultivating grit — the combination of passion and perseverance of effort towards a long-term goal.
University of Pennsylvania psychology researcher Angela Duckworth found that grit was predictive of GPA in a group of undergraduates, retention in West Point cadets, ranking in the National Spelling Bee, and educational attainment in two separate groups of adults. Interestingly, grit was not highly correlated with IQ but it was highly correlated with a measure of conscientiousness. The replication of this finding in so many different groups of people and environments is motivating. However, in an era of instantaneous gratification, sticking with a goal through the peaks and valleys can be challenging. Here’s a breakdown of methods to cultivate your grit.
Flex your grit muscle. As with exercising your body, your mind can be trained. Grit is no exception: you can learn to be gritty.
Assemble a toolkit. Perseverance begins with direction – identify goals that you’d like to accomplish, or define what your passions are, then outline the concrete steps you can take to make them a reality.
Celebrate the small wins. Be specific in your mental blueprint by identifying the tools you need to succeed, and establish milestones along your path of progress. For example, if one of your goals is career-related – say, getting a promotion -- pinpoint the skills and types of training you need to achieve that. Along the way, celebrate accomplished milestones, and acknowledge how each one fits into your longer term vision. It can be difficult to see just how far you’ve already come, and noticing where you currently are in your journey will help you create a daily habit of staying motivated towards your bigger purpose.
#Fail to be great. People with a growth mindset seek out environments that have adversity built into them, even though environments and situations with novel challenges typically come with setbacks. It’s important to recognize and value the opportunity that comes with failure: learning.
Never quit in a valley. Every mountain has a valley, and persevering through difficulties will not only help you be more resilient in the future, but also makes obtaining your goal that much sweeter. Understand your own way of making it through valleys — for example, identify the help you need, the perspective that will be helpful to take, and how long it will take to climb out. Practicing moving through failures is a great way to flex your grit.
Build your tribe. Establish a network of trusted allies, including friends, family and coworkers who can keep you accountable to your goals. Prioritize time to connect with a coach or mentor to work on go-forward strategies, and tap trusted pals for motivational support. Be sure to fill your roster with people who share your growth mindset. You can make big strides with teammates who approach problems as opportunities, and they will make good accountability buddies.
Give yourself (mental) space. Grit requires passion and long-term effort, but awareness of timing is important. Pushing yourself full-force 100 percent of the time leaves you susceptible to burnout, so identifying when you need to scale back or taking a timeout will help keep you on track. Practicing mindfulness as part of your overall grit toolkit can help you get through the moments of mental fatigue. Looking for opportunities to build your playfulness, humor and creativity during your journey towards your goals can help redefine what grit — the persistence of effort — looks like for you on a day-to-day basis.
Be playful and purposeful. Cultivate your curiosity and passion for your goal. If you enjoy the process as much as the end, it’s easier to navigate the peaks and valleys that you will inevitably experience along the journey. Taking the perspective that you are engaging in meaningful playtime relieves pressure and encourages engagement to produce long-term grit.
Recognize that setbacks are a natural part of the process. Try not to get derailed by adversity en route to your goal. Setbacks don’t always mean that you won’t reach your goal, but just that you haven’t reached it yet. Harness the power of yet, as Stanford researcher Carol Dweck would say, and cultivate a growth mindset that will help you take unexpected hurdles in stride.
Join us in resolving to have more resolve this year! We’re curious, what goal are you working towards? Share it with us here.