Everyday ways to cultivate grit

10 August 2017 - mindful practices

Have you read our article on researcher Angela Duckworth’s findings about the 4 characteristics that make up grit? Think you need more time to develop the characteristics? Fret not. Duckworth’s research also shows that grit is something that can be cultivated.

Here are 7 everyday ways of developing grit:

1. Create purpose and meaning.

Grit is born out of deep personal meaning. Research at the United States Military Academy at West Point showed that students who were intrinsically motivated (“I want to challenge myself”) outperformed those who were extrinsically motivated (“I want to impress others”).

But purpose or meaning doesn’t necessarily come to us in an instant. It is in the small, everyday steps that we create or find it. Here are 4 tips about purpose and passion from some of the best thinkers in the world.

2. Practise being in uncomfortable situations.

In her research at the National Spelling Bee, Duckworth found that the gritty contestants isolated their weaknesses and worked on them. In other words, they were willing to be uncomfortable, which is the very essence of grit.

Ask yourself what scares you. The first thing to do is to reframe the issue. For example, see failure as an opportunity for growth. Then find ways to risk failing. Schedule it—being uncomfortable can be part of a routine. For example, challenge yourself to do one new or difficult thing every week.

3. Focus on the process.

• Celebrate the small, everyday wins and improvements.
• Remember past achievements to spur you on.
• Frame setbacks as learning opportunities.

4. Consistency is key.

American author Gretchen Rubin writes, “What [you] do every day matters more than what [you] do once in a while.”

Our habits are the foundation of our lives. Sticking to our habits—big or small—is a way of developing grit. Not sure how to form habits? We break it down for you here.

For a start, try 30-day challenges. Like writing? Do a 30-day writing challenge. When it’s difficult to follow through, remind yourself of your purpose.

5. Don’t take things personally.

Focus on how you perceive setbacks using the ‘3 Ps’: permanence, pervasiveness and personalisation. Remind yourself that a) it’s temporary; b) it doesn’t affect your whole life; and c) it isn’t entirely because of you. Rather than ask “Why me?”, shift your focus to the small steps you can take next.

6. Get and give support.

We all know that having a strong support network makes a difference. The smallest things keep us going—an encouraging word, knowing you aren’t alone.

But helping others also gives us a deep sense of purpose and meaning. Duckworth’s research found that people motivated by altruism had more grit than those motivated by personal pleasure.

7. Laugh often.

Humour is a great way to reframe things and gain perspective. The next time you encounter difficulty, try finding the humour in it. Laugh at yourself, make a joke out of the situation or ask yourself, “So what?”

Developing grit may feel like a daunting journey to embark on, but it's the smallest things that make a difference. Start small but consistentlyit's a sure way towards grit. Share your journey with us at hello@mindful-company.com. We could always use some inspiration.

- The Mindful Company Team