Goals that require consistent application of effort over a long period of time – especially when the finish line is ambiguous or unknown – frequently go unaccomplished because most people lose steam, give up, or get distracted. Long-term goals require motivation, passion, dedication, resolve, fortitude, and stamina; grit being the distillation of all these. The ability to stay focused and put in the necessary effort requires grit, yet grit is not always innate within us.
Outlined here are some techniques on cultivating grit:
1.) Establish clear goals and then break them down – Undefined goals are nearly impossible to reach; you have nothing to aim for. Spend time thinking about what exactly it is that you are trying to achieve. Distill your ideas into a concrete, big picture goal and then write it down. Ask yourself what steps need to be taken in order for you to achieve that goal. Next, think of each step as a trunk splintering into branches; each branch representing the mini-goals that need to be achieved on the path to the larger one. So you want to be a writer? Distill that goal down to something more concrete: “I want to publish a novel”. From there, identify the steps: “finish writing novel” is an obvious choice. Now, break down that step even further into mini-goals: “write 1 chapter a month” or, even smaller: “write 500 words per day”. By setting a concrete goal and outlining the steps you have to take to meet that goal, you are giving yourself less room for procrastination or wasted time. This is the birth of grit.
2.) Every day matters – People who lack grit often do not see that the small choices they make each day have the power to slowly erode their resolve or distract them from the work that needs to be done. It’s incredibly easy to live as if time is not passing, but remind yourself that life, after all, is only made up of days — each one counting just as much as the last (or the next). Grit means realizing that every day spent not working towards your goal is a day lost. Set aside a time each evening to evaluate what you have done that day in pursuit of your goal. This will keep you focused.
3.) Understand that max intelligence is not set at birth – We are not born with an immovable max level of intelligence; there is always opportunity to improve. Adopt a growth mentality which acknowledges that intelligence, talent, and creativity levels increase or decrease based on your cultivation of them. If your goals seem unattainable with your current level of intelligence or talent, embrace that you can and need to work on increasing your skills. By removing the excuse of inadequate intelligence, you free yourself to thirstily chase after knowledge.
4.) Tap into your passion – Nothing inspires grit like passion and in many ways, the two are intertwined. That in mind, be aware that often, the work required to achieve your goals will not inspire passion. Instead, it is the passion for the final vision that needs to drive you. If you are feeling sluggish or unmotivated, spend time reminding yourself why you are doing what you are doing. Picture yourself at the end — goal achieved. Often, this reminder of purpose will re-ignite the passion that led you to start down this path. Tapping into passion is discovering the fuel that keeps grit alive.
5.) Avoid procrastination at all costs – Procrastination is poison to grit. Always be on the lookout for procrastination in your life. If works needs to be done, or a decision needs to be made, ask yourself if waiting to complete it will yield a better result than starting now. You’ll find that 99% of the time this will not be the case. Resolve to complete tasks as soon as you’ve recognized the need for them. Set a schedule for yourself. Assertive grit forces procrastination to take a back seat.
6.) Effort creates mastery – Most importantly, remind yourself every single day that nothing comes for free. When you see the success of others, use it as motivation for the pursuit of your own success. Do not fall victim to the delusion that success comes more easily for other people. It’s likely that they spend years working hard behind the scenes, with no promise of returns, to get where they are. Mastery is not something we are born with. Mastery comes from showing up every day, remembering what really matters, and having the courage to push forward and put in the work.
The more you practice grit, the easier it comes – this is the good news. Like a muscle, grit becomes stronger the more you cultivate it. In time, you will develop resolve. You will understand, at your core, that channeling grit is the only way to achieve success and remain focused and steadfast in the pursuit of your goals.