“Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it's a marathon, not a sprint.”
Angela Lee Duckworth, Ted Talk, The Key to Success? Grit.
Though grit may come naturally to some, grit is an attitude or approach that you can develop and grow. Grit can become an essential tool to help you maximize your success in college. In fact, various studies reveal that grit is a better indicator of future success in college than SAT and IQ tests (PDF).
Below are two videos by Angela Duckworth, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who is professionally and personally passionate about grit:
Measure Your Grit
See where you stand on the grit scale, which was developed by Angela Duckworth.
Four Steps to Grow Grit
Grit can be grown. Age and life experience can promote grit but here are four ways you can grow your grit right now:
Identify and Follow Your Passions
- Make a list of the top three things that spark your passion.
- For each one, list three steps to expand this passion.
- Commit yourself to taking action towards these steps within a certain time frame.
- When done, repeat!
By doing so, you will grow your passions and further inform and solidify your long term goals.
Expect and Use Setbacks and Obstacles
Overcoming adversity grows grit. Know that frustration and setbacks are a part of the process. They can either distract you from your goals, leaving you at a standstill- or provide additional fuel to help you persevere, overcome obstacles, and eventually achieve your goals, enhanced by the sweetness of knowing you endured and cleared some hurdles.
Many famous people have experienced failure but still succeeded wildly. Below are a few examples of successful individuals who faced major life obstacles in their life’s passion.
- Steven Spielberg was rejected by the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts several times
- Dr. Seuss had his first book rejected by 27 different publishers.
- Lady Gaga got fired from her record label three months into her career.
Take Risks and Challenge Yourself
We are all tempted to stick to things that are most comfortable. But choosing to step out of the box, take risks, and challenging ourselves helps build grit. Some examples of how you might stretch yourself in this way might include:
- Attend an activity on campus that you would not have considered in the past
- Next time you work on a group project, choose partners you have not worked with in the past
- Pick a course for next semester that is completely novel to you
- List three things that make you uncomfortable and commit yourself to doing one of them.
Be In It for the Long Haul
Angela Duckworth defines grit as “having passion and perseverance for long term goals.” Some ways to build your ability to persevere include:
- Keeping sight of your long term goals
- Celebrating small accomplishments
- Quieting your doubting voice
- Taking that one extra step towards your goal every day
- Allowing yourself space for breaks
Four Skills That Grow Grit
“Self-Discipline is like a muscle; the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets.”
Daniel Goldstein, Ph.D., cognitive psychologist
Self-discipline is an important factor in a person’s ability to achieve their goals. Here are a few suggestions to help you be more self-disciplined:
- Know Your Weak Spots: It is tempting to ignore our flaws or downplay their possible negative impact. Yet recognizing our flaws can help increase our power to be more self-disciplined. Some typical weak spots for college students include alcohol and other drug overuse, unhealthy relationship patterns, and procrastination.
- Eliminate Distractions: By removing what takes you off course, you free up energy and direction for the things you need to accomplish. One of the most common distraction for students today is social media. Here are a few ways to keep your use in check: remove addicting apps, establish times of day when you will use social media and other times when you will not, and place a time limit on your use (set a timer and stick to these limits when the alarm sounds).
- Create Routines and Build Little Habits: Identify and perfect daily routines that are vital to your success. Even the smallest of habits help us achieve our goals. For instance, make a list every night of what you need to do the next day. This will help you get the most out of each day.
Find a more experienced or knowledgeable person to help guide, shape, and support your path. For college students, mentors might be:
- A current or former professor
- A manager or supervisor from an internship or a job
- An older friend or colleague
- Experienced individuals from professional organizations on campus
Self-advocacy is the ability to communicate your thoughts and needs to other individuals in an effective manner. It allows you to express opinions and views. You can take these three important steps to successfully self-advocate:
- Know your needs and wants
- Know what will help and support your needs being met
- Communicate these needs to others who can help
College and its accompanying academic, social, and professional pressures is stressful for everyone. Here are some ways that you can reduce and manage stress:
- Be realistic about your schedule and responsibilities. Don’t set yourself up for failure.
- Schedule time for relaxation and fun. This could include meditation, listening to music, hanging out with friends, or even taking a midday nap.
- Take care of yourself. Practice healthy eating and sleeping habits. Squeeze in some physical activity every day.
- Be aware of and limit negative, self-defeating thoughts.
- Keep your sense of humor.
- Use the support of friends, family, and/or professionals as an outlet.