Grit and Perseverance 101

Have you ever thought about running a marathon, dreamed about hiking the whole Appalachian Trail, read a book late into the night or stuck with a game until you beat the final level? Having perseverance and grit means that you have the ability to continue working on something even if it becomes challenging or takes a long time to complete. A gritty person has stamina and handles a challenge like it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Grit and perseverance are major predictors of academic, professional and general life success so it’s important to understand where these qualities come from.

As you grow up, various life experiences create opportunities for you to naturally develop grit. Academically, maybe you have to work on a challenging project that lasts the entire year and requires you to stay engaged with the material for a long time.  It probably gets really boring or hard at times but you stick with it because you need to persevere to get a good grade (or maybe just to pass).  Professionally, maybe your job is less than ideal (think: demanding boss, hard commute, difficult or boring work) but maybe you stick to it for years because you need to make the money or you really enjoy the friends you have at the job. In your personal life, maybe you sustain an injury while playing your favorite sport.  The rehabilitation that it will take to get you back on the court or field will take months and possibly years but you stick with it because you have a long term goal of getting back to the activity that you love.

In relationships, you can develop grit by learning from the people in your life. Does your grandfather often repeat stories about his difficult childhood? Do you have a parent who works multiple jobs to make ends meet? Do you have a teacher who battled and beat a life-threatening illness? Knowing others who demonstrated grit can be contagious especially when they are influential people in our lives.

It is certainly harder to persevere when the rewards are less clear, when it takes longer to get to your ultimate goal or when the challenges you encounter affect your life in a negative way. Grit and resilience will help you stick to something despite difficult circumstances and usually when you stick to it and overcome a challenge you feel really good. Keep in mind that you do not always need to be gritty.  It’s important to learn what tasks, projects and issues are worth your perseverance and what might be better to address at another time or not at all based on your own personal goals.

Take a moment to consider how many movies, novels and TV shows depict someone who has persevered and overcome an obstacle or completed a difficult or challenging task. How did you feel at the end of the movie/show? Using our grit to overcome a challenge or stick with and master a task makes us feel uplifted.

Do you have grit? Take this Grit Scale Test to find out! Want to get grittier? Read Get Gritty for some suggestions.

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