There are 3 things you need to know about grit. It’s not the gunk that’s stuck on your sinks and shower tubs. It’s not that feeling you get when you’re exfoliating your face either. And, it’s definitely not the texture you feel in your mouth when you eat one of those baked goods that are not fluffy and moist.
Grit is defined as having perseverance and passion for long-term goals (Duckworth, 2016).
But, what does grit feel like? Think back to finals week for school or when you had 52 deadlines set for the coming week. You know you have to buckle in, keep your head down, do the work, and forge through no matter what. There’s no time for procrastinating, complaining or pretending your Grandmother died again for the 5th time during this school year. It feels like you’ve held your breath the entire time and then when everything is said and done, you can finally breathe again (and sleep again).
The reason you’re able to forge through finals week or hitting all the work deadlines is that you have perseverance which is being determined to get through it despite how difficult things may be. And, you also have your eye on a bigger prize, the long-term goal, whether it be a degree, for your career, etc.
Here are 3 things you need to know about grit for now and we will elaborate on this important quality in the upcoming weeks.
YOU CAN LEARN TO BE “GRITTY”
Some people like to think that they can’t do things because they weren’t born with that ability. That’s totally absurd when you think about athletes who are born without legs or arms competing in triathlons. Thus, you can learn to persevere when things get tough.
Set up a small simple goal like drinking 64 ounces of water every day for at least 3 days. This sounds absurd too, but soon you’ll find out how hard this is. Push yourself to drink that water and don’t give up until you’ve gotten to day 3. If you’re able to do this even though you didn’t want to, you were too tired to drink water (seriously, it happens), or you wanted soda instead but fought the urge, you just learned grit! Every time you think of another small goal you want to achieve for the week and forge through that, you basically level up in your grit powers!
YOU HAVE PASSION, BUT DO YOU REALLY LOOOOVE IT?
We all have passions and goals are are working towards. It’s always easy in the beginning because it’s fun. But what happens when it gets tough when you start to doubt yourself when you can’t control your emotions when things feel like they’re failing, or when people get you down? Do you just use all those things as an excuse and quit? If you do, then you don’t have a real passion for that passion.
When you have an absolute true passion for something, you don’t give up on it no matter what. That’s when you are experiencing and actually have grit. You know things can go awry, that you’re going to get frustrated, that you might digress in progress, but you keep going.
For any runners out there, it’s like the first few miles of a marathon are so much fun. You’re cackling like a banshee and high-fiving the crowd cheering you on. By mile 9, you’re starting to wonder why you’re trying to kill yourself again by doing this run. By mile 12, you think you’re going to die because things start to hurt or fall off (toenails) or bleed. By mile 18, you have an out of body experience and you don’t know who’s moving you anymore, is it your legs or spirit animal. By mile 22, you want to stop and you probably do. Then the next 4.2 miles are pure hell on earth. Suddenly, you cross the finish line and you’re overcome with emotions unlike anything else. You did it! You don’t know how but you did it and it all came to grit. Somewhere in those painful, bloody miles, you have a passion for running that’s so true that you are willing to lose toenails, blood, and cramp for 9 hours just to cross that finish line. Boom. Grit.
DO YOU KNOW HOW TO FOLLOW THROUGH?
To have grit is to know how to follow through with anything you say you’re going to do. Again, this trait isn’t something you’re born with and it’s something you learn through school and your parents. When your parents tell you they’re going to bring you to the zoo, and they bring you to the zoo, that’s following through. It’s basically being responsible and keeping your word.
Things happen, life happens, and you can fall short on what you promised you were going to deliver. This is ok. But, for the most part, if you are able to follow through, then you are already at level 1 with having grit. We all have problems at times when it comes to seeing things through and that’s ok, too. Take small steps towards small goals and you’ll end up learning how to do this until it becomes a natural habit.
Here are some extra readings about grit below. We will be writing about more specific situations and how you can use your grit to get to the other side, successfully.