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Developing Grit to Meet Your Goals: Where Passion and Perseverance Meet

If you could do anything, develop any skill, what would it be?  We value hard work in American society, but we may secretly value more, which may contribute to many people giving up quickly when things get hard, wasting their potential.  What if they knew that research has shown that the combination of passion and perseverance may count more than talent?  If you don’t think you have much talent in something that matters to you, whether that be with a musical instrument or communicating clearly, you can still succeed as you develop grit.

 The first step toward being more “gritty” is recognizing where you are right now in relation to goals.  Grit is more than working hard; it involves working towardan important, inspiring top-level goal for a long time. What matters most to you or gives you purpose?  This can fuel and guide other, “lower” goals and actions. 

As you consider where you are and where you would like to go, keep in mind these four key assets for growing grit:

  1. Interest:Finding a passion takes time and interaction with the world around you.  You need to experiment and be patient.  You might not even notice at first that you’ve discovered something that can engage you for a lifetime.  Once an interest is triggered, it takes a lengthy, proactive period to develop it. 
  2. Practice:Seek continuous improvement of your passion through deliberate practice– that is, to have a clearly defined, personally stretching goal; fully focus on the task; seek feedback to shape more effective practice; and repeat.  What practice time and place work best for you? Make it a habit.  Finally, learn to embrace the challenge of difficulty rather than fearing it by practicing nonjudgmental self-awareness in each moment.  
  3. Purpose:Purpose takes the motivation for developing a skill from personal interest to using the skill to help other people.  It can be cultivated as you find small but meaningful ways make changes to connect your current work or situation to your core values and strengths.
  4. Hope:More than a feeling, hope involves recognizing that we can make a difference in our own lives and keep getting up with determination to make tomorrow better. Exercising hope involves updating our beliefs about our ability to change (recognizing realistic limitations but also progress and possibilities), practicing optimistic self-talk, and asking for help.  

Grit in itself doesn’t make for success, health, or happiness overall; it’s important to develop other dimensions of your life and your character.  However, grit can play an important part in what you are able to do in many areas of your life.  With grit, you can make the most of whatever talent you have to develop skills that matter to you; use those skills to benefit people around you; and find fulfillment as you make the most of your potential.  


Duckworthy, A. (2016).  Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.  New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Research by: Kayla Clawson Alva


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