This post is about how you can develop more grit and get ahead not only financially but also with your mindset. This post is brought to you by Heather Parady who is an inspiring entrepreneur who helps others find their way in life through her podcast and blog.
You are probably thinking about the new habits that you want to develop and the goals that you want to achieve for the new year. Some believe that it is pointless to set “New Year’s Resolutions” and some swear by them.
Whatever your belief may be about when and how to set goals, I think we can all agree that achieving goals will require grit.
When I think of grit, I think of a dog and its toy. When you throw your dog’s favorite toy, he runs after it, brings it back to you, and then as you try to take it away from him, something interesting happens. He will not let go. He holds onto it as his life depends on it. He will hold on so tightly it will cause his whole body to shake and move as he refuses to let go. This is what I picture when I think of grit.
Grit requires you to hold on to something no matter how hard it tries to get away from you.
No matter how hard you have to struggle, no matter how crazy you may appear (like that dog whipping his head back and forth not letting go of his toy), you hold on.
When my husband and I decided to go on a budget (gasp) and have weekly budget meetings (double gasp) we both knew this would require some grit. Avoiding debt was important to us, but we also wanted to pursue a couple of big goals that we had. I wanted to go to graduate school and get my masters, and he wanted to join the military. As a bonus, we had a toddler. Some called us crazy. We preferred to think of it as adventurous. We knew to pull off a couple of difficult years without inquiring heaps of debt would require budget meetings and grit.
For me to go to grad school we agreed that we would not take out loans. We committed to paying for the classes month to month. I was running a small business at the time that helped a little but achieving this goal we were going to have to cut back our expenses (a lot).
Shortly after starting graduate school we had a heart to heart about my husband’s future. He had made the statement “If I had it to do all over again, I would have joined the service.” My immediate response was “Well, do it. Why not?”.
We were already living minimally to get me through graduate school, but we were going to have to take it to even another level for the almost year he was gone for training. We both buckled down, agreed on what we wanted to achieve, and practiced using grit.
It was REALLY hard, we messed up at times, miscommunicated, had some successes, but most importantly we made it through.
Looking back we are both happy we made the temporary sacrifices that we did to make it through both of those goals (graduate school debt free and him joining the service) but to say that it was a walk in the park would be a lie. It was probably one of the most challenging times of our lives, but we pulled through it. I see this experience as something that required us to practice the grit that we had and develop the grit that we lacked.
I see grit as something that can measure along a continuum. I love the quote that says that courage is “feeling fear” but “doing it anyway.” Having grit does not mean that “holding on” is easy. You may really want to let go, but the more you have practiced and developed the skill of grit, the longer it takes for you to throw in the towel.
We all have that limit. That limit of how long we can “hold on” to our goal varies from person to person and situation to situation. But like a muscle, the more you use grit, the more you develop.
One of Webster’s definitions for grit, is “firmness of mind or spirit: unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger”. Any goal that you want to achieve is going to require courage. Goals typically require us to do things that go against our natural senses, like waking up while it is still dark to run in the cold or saying no to buying a new car while you are in school. Denying your immediate desires, making different choices than your peers, and staying true to your goals (even when you do not see a lot of progress) takes this unyielding courage.
So how do you develop grit? Where can you pull this “unyielding courage” from, when you get discouraged and want to throw in the towel?
Having accountability is essential. Someone you can trust that will hold you accountable is like the glue that holds everything together. I call my emotions my “early morning logic.” I try to exercise every morning. It doesn’t always happen because when I first wake up, I have a million “reasons” (excuses) why it’s okay for me to sleep in. I will tell myself that it is too cold outside, or I had a long night the night before, or I don’t feel good, etc.
I can’t trust this “early morning logic” because I am in my most vulnerable state. I am tired and I make excuses.
When you are in the emotions of it all, it is vital to have someone there who will call you out. When you want to give up or say that you have “gone far enough” they will tell you to push harder. You may not like this person from time to time, but they will be the first one you thank at the finish line.
Whether that is with your significant other, accountability partner, or by yourself, it is detrimental that you keep a continual gauge on your progress. This will help you not only to stay focused but also will encourage you because it gives you an opportunity to see your progress as well.
Too often we feel discouraged because we have not given ourselves the opportunity to acknowledge how far we have come. Measurement is not just about seeing how far you have left to go, but also how far you have come.
Grit can obviously be applied to any area of life. Practicing saying no in small, unrelated areas that have nothing to do with your major goal. This will develop that “grit muscle”. Using grit in all areas of your life will also help raise your self-awareness to be able to identify better what motivates you and what doesn’t.
The more you successfully use grit you will become more confident in yourself and the ability that you do have to “hold on” when you feel like letting go. Again, view grit as something you measure along a continuum. It’s important that you continually practice using grit so that it can develop and grow.
Whether you have a financial goal, health goal, business goal, etc. you will need to call upon grit this next year. Often when people feel discouraged about a goal that they did not achieve they use the word “fail.” I want to challenge that mindset with one final thought.
We are all learning. No one has mastered grit. No one has mastered goal achievement. No one succeeds perfectly at everything they set out to do. We are all in the process of growing and becoming the type of people that we want to be.
When you approach your goals this next year (whether it started on New Year’s day or not) I want to challenge you to simply practice using your grit. The more that you do, the better you will become at it. Give yourself grace, even if you let go for a second, you can always pick “it” back up and hold on tighter the next time.
Heather Parady is an entrepreneur, licensed therapist and the owner and operator of HeatherParady.com where she facilitates masterminds, leads a podcast called the Weekly Parady, and inspires others to pursue their dreams. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to learn more about her work.
Also published on Medium.
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