Someone asked me back in January if I had a “word” for the coming year. As it happened, I did! My word for 2020 had been “Grace”, for 2021 my word is GRIT.
What is GRIT? One definition I have is “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” I often have an image of gritted teeth – keeping going when the going is tough, you might be in touching distance of your goal, so don’t give up.
This image came into my head at that thought. We don’t always know how close we are to success!
I also bring to mind that WD40 (that wonderful substance that often helps us to unjam things or fix things) is named that because it was successful on its 40th attempt. That is some perseverance – 39 fails before a final success.
So why is GRIT important? Well, it turns out that it is a greater predictor of success than many other attributes. GRIT even beats intelligence. And we can LEARN how to be more GRITTY! We can develop the inner strength necessary to achieve those important goals. Great news.
It helps kids do better in school, university students get higher grades, soldiers succeed in completing their military training, adults succeed at work and stay in their marriages.
And I think GRIT felt quite topical – in the middle of a global pandemic, many have had to hunker down and keep going despite the chaos swirling around them. Having GRIT will also be needed as we swing the world back into action, as it will certainly not be a smooth transition back to whatever the new normal is.
So what do we mean by GRIT? One researcher who has worked in this field for many years and is seen as the world’s expert is Angela Lee Duckworth. She cites four features that make up GRIT:
- Pursue what interests you: You’re not going to stick it out if you don’t care. Find something that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning. Define some good role models in whichever sphere you are applying this to – you are in it for the long haul. Can you get a mentor? Guide?
- Practice, practice, practice: Yes, you will make plenty of mistakes, yes you may occasionally hit a brick wall – so you are going to have to keep practising, keep fine tuning, keep your curiosity going, think outside the box, keep on keeping on. Learn all the lessons you can and then do it all over and over again.
- Find purpose: How does what you do help others? Whether that is your work or otherwise. Finding meaning and purpose in your job is great – consider how does it help the world go round better? How does it contribute to the wellbeing of the world?
- Have hope: Harness or develop a “growth mindset”. Believing that you can grow and change. This will be really useful when things are not going well. Resist those self-limiting beliefs, the whisper in your ear telling you that you will never make it. It won’t always be like this. There is a new chapter waiting to be written. Have hope because you are going to make it happen. Did you know that HOPE is an acronym? Hold On, Pain Ends.
“GRIT is the stubborn refusal to quit” – Jonah Lehrer
Often, we see that successful people stick with their long-term goals, instead of getting distracted, and they keep showing up, even when it is difficult. This applies to many areas of our lives such as surviving through this pandemic, training to run a marathon, studying well at school or university, growing prize winning vegetables or succeeding in your career. GRIT – not glamorous, but we need it to be successful.
As far as our current situation with the Covid pandemic, this applies to us all. Many will be struggling for a wide variety of reasons. Hang on in there – the end will come.
That is my word of the year – and you can also choose or share it too. GRIT – we are ALL going to need it.
And my final thought…
Anne-Marie Gawen, Mental Health & Wellbeing Trainer, Unlock Your Wellbeing