8 Ways To Hone Your 'Grit' For Success

Research reveals that manifesting success isn't as difficult as it seems.

Mark Travers, Ph.D.

By Mark Travers, Ph.D. | April 29, 2024

We often attribute a person's success to their intelligence, talent, privilege or even luck. While these factors undoubtedly play a role, a lesser-known quality called "grit" plays an essential part in attaining desired life outcomes.

The concept of grit was introduced by psychologist Angela Duckworth as the unique combination of passion and perseverance toward your long-term goals. In essence, it is the ability to keep going, even when faced with obstacles.

Here are eight research-backed ways to use grit to achieve your goals, as delineated by a 2023 study.

1. Create SMART Goals

The most attainable goal is one that is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound, or "SMART." For example, having a clear deadline and a distinct objective improves your performance compared to having a vague idea of your goal.

Additionally, selecting the appropriate level of difficulty for a goal is essential, as research has shown challenging (but not unattainable) goals to be more effective than easier ones. Grit allows individuals to tackle ambitious, long-term objectives that might intimidate others.

2. Enter States Of Sustained Attention

While distractions are inevitable, focusing your attention on goal-relevant activities fosters greater goal attainment. Breaking down your goal into smaller, manageable parts and focusing on one step at a time, while allowing for periods of high quality rest can help sustain your attention and avoid exhaustion or overwhelm.

A 2017 study suggests that focusing on sub-goals early on in the goal attainment process and then focusing on the larger goal towards the end helps you stay motivated throughout. You can practice sustained attention for short periods of time until it becomes easier to hold it for longer, and allocate specific times in advance to work towards your goal.

Grit is also characterized by the consistency of interest in a task over time. Focusing on goals that are interesting to you or going about the process of achieving them in novel ways can help keep you on your toes and stay engaged.

3. Plan Ahead

Highly conscientious, gritty individuals are often successful in tasks that require planning, discipline and attention to detail. Research shows that reaching a goal becomes easier when you develop effective strategies and plan in advance for it. This can prepare you to navigate any challenge that may arise in the process.

Achieving a goal also requires resources like time and funding. Being "gritty" means figuring out clever ways to gain these resources to set yourself up for success.

4. Stay Persistent In The Face Of Fear

According to the expectancy theory of motivation, we are motivated to make an effort towards a goal if we believe that it will lead to improved performance and rewarding outcomes. Based on these anticipated benefits as well as the perceived difficulty of a goal, we decide how much effort to invest in it.

However, if we focus too much on the difficulty of a task, it can become demotivating, causing us to procrastinate, especially if we doubt our ability to succeed at it. The fear of failure can also make you afraid to begin in the first place.

To fight procrastination and tap into your grit—keep going.

A 2021 study proposed that persistent goal pursuit is a result of resisting the urge to give up, and returning to its pursuit even if you take a break. The researchers suggested that this was facilitated by removing distractions, using reminders, effective planning and forming habits specific to the goal's attainment.

Remember that goals take time and the path to success is not linear. It involves hurdles and moments of doubt. Cultivating grit requires treating failures as opportunities for growth rather than setbacks, which then leads to better outcomes. When you tap into your grit, you're willing to step out of your comfort zone, take risks and embrace uncertainty, which are all critical elements of success.

5. Renew Your Commitment

Research suggests that how much you care about and commit to your goals affects the amount of effort you put in and, naturally, its outcome. If you are able to appreciate how rewarding and meaningful a goal is for you, you are better able to prioritize it and become more motivated to pursue it.

Gritty individuals have an unwavering commitment to their goals, even when the initial excitement fades. This is part of what sets them apart.

6. Believe In Yourself

Self-efficacy refers to an individual's belief in their ability to accomplish tasks and achieve goals. The higher your self-efficacy, the more likely you are to set challenging goals and work hard to achieve them.

A 2019 study revealed that self-efficacy can increase your desire to gain mastery over a skill and demonstrate your competence in it by attempting to accomplish tasks better than others. This reduces your fear of failure and allows you to pursue your goals with greater confidence.

7. Rely On Your Support System

It is also important to surround yourself with people who believe in you and validate your value. It helps if they also display grit and you are part of a community that inspires and uplifts each other.

Further, individuals who actively seek and respond to feedback are more likely to make necessary course corrections and maximize their performance.

8. Celebrate The Milestones

Celebrating each small victory and engaging in self-affirmation even if you face obstacles reinforces the belief that you can overcome them, leading to greater self-assuredness.

While innate talent and intelligence have their place, grit is the force that sustains us on the path to success. Grit can be nurtured and improved, even if it doesn't come naturally to you, by setting clear, challenging goals and staying focused and persistent.

Is your procrastination coming in between you and your goals? Take the General Procrastination Scale to learn more.

A similar version of this article can also be found on, here.

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