And you thought all you had to do was persevere.
Lately everywhere I turn I see experts talking about how grit or perseverance alone is the key to success. Reading these expert opinions gave me an impression that as long as we persevere no matter what, success will be ours.
Although perseverance is an important part of being successful, I suspect that there might be missing pieces in the puzzle. Now you may be skeptical. But here’s a story demonstrating my point. You can read it and draw your own conclusions.
I have a friend, let’s say, Sam, (fictitious name to protect their privacy).
He has not given up on making money online for 3 years now. He has been blogging and creating content diligently, educating himself in online marketing, and creating courses. He has persisted longer than I ever would have going on the same path. And yet here I am running a 6-figure business after only a year after starting while he has made about 5-figures in total for all 3 years.
So, if all you needed was perseverance to succeed don’t you think he should have had better success than me?
Do you still think perseverance is the only thing you need to succeed?
This made me think and wonder if the experts are all wrong about perseverance.
So, I decided to do some research on this. I went on a reading spree, reading all the material about grit — the research and science behind it.
What I found was a bit surprising:
Success is only inevitable with grit, when you have the same skill level, mindset, and resources to pursue as compared to everyone else.
So you can’t compare yourself to people who have more money, or higher skill level, or better mindset and assume that your perseverance will put you ahead of them in the same time frame.
Before you can set goals and persevere, you need to figure out which goal you want to pursue first.
Quit to Persevere
I know what you’re thinking.
How do you quit to really persevere?
Well, what I really mean is that you should quit all priorities except your most important one.
But how do you choose?
It’s hard to figure out which one to start on first, right? It almost feels like you have to get all your goals accomplished yesterday.
Although we all feel like that, it is very important to prioritize your goals, focusing on one at a time. With this, your chances of success skyrocket.
First, let me ask you this, if your goal is to run a mile in 8 minutes, lose 20 lbs, and start a business on the side, do you think you can persevere in each of these goals when you hit roadblocks in all of them? Do you have that kind of energy to tackle obstacles in different areas and not give up?
I don’t know about you, but I absolutely cannot imagine myself doing this. I know this for a fact because I have tried and failed many times before juggling too many goals at one time and have gotten frustrated.
As humans we need to be aware of the fact that we only have a finite amount of energy. It is almost impossible to be gritty at everything. But it is possible to be gritty at the most important things.
So the first step to being successful is to figure out where you want to put your energy. Here’s a simple way to do it:
- Write down all the goals you are trying to accomplish.
- For each goal write down your reason why you want to accomplish it.
- For each goal write down what would happen if you didn’t achieve this goal.( 3-4 sentences)
- For each goal write down what would happen if you achieved this goal. (3-4sentences)
Your paper should look something like this. If you would like a excel template you can download it here.
- Rank your goals 1- 10 or however many you have, based on the severity of your emotional reaction (both good or bad) to what you wrote in columns 3 & 4 for each goal. 1 being the most severe and 10 or whatever number you have being the least severe.
- The goal that you marked #1 is the one that you want to start with.
- You can always set new goals once you accomplish the first one.WARNING : DO NOT trick yourself into thinking you can do more than one at a time, especially if you have failed many times before.
Find Your Why
Now that you picked your goal, you have to find the real reason why you want to pursue it.
At this time, whether you are questioning why it’s important to find your why or if you are thinking that you have no idea how to go about it, don’t worry. I will explain and I have a simple method that you can use to figure it out.
Here’s why this part is important. Every time we venture into achieving a new goal, we’re oozing excitement.
Day 1 goes by, Day 2 goes by. Day 3 is when we start to not feel like working towards it. We then start to make excuses and find logical reasons for why we should quit.
We all start out very excited and with high interest towards our goal. Over time, our interest goes into a dip, and hence our results do as well.
Here is what the dip looks like according to Martin Meadows in his book “GRIT – How to Keep Going When You Want to Give Up”
As you can see from my little doodle above that if you push past the dip, your results increase exponentially and give you motivation to persevere no matter what.
For us to effectively push through the dip we need to have strong reasons that motivate us. Otherwise it becomes very easy to find seemingly logical reasons to give up. This is probably the most dangerous part of the path to your goal.
If you know your why, you can keep your focus on your why instead of how hard it seems to keep going.
Here’s a simple way to do it. Ask why at least five times before you get your answer.
Here’s an example:
I want to build a 6-figure business by Dec 2017.
Because I love the freedom that comes with it
Because freedom allows me to take vacations and spend time with my family
Because spending time with my family makes me happy
If I am happy I can spread the cheer all around
Because I would love to see others happy.
Now you have the real reason.
If this exercise doesn’t give you clarity, it might be better to get a 3rd person’s perspective, preferably someone who would like to see you succeed. Or you can hire a coach.
Knowing which goal to pursue and finding your why are the first steps but there are a few other things that are extremely important to have while pursuing your goal.
How do you handle adversity?
After you experience a failure or a difficult situation do you ask yourself,
Why do these things happen to me?
Do you say things like, ‘Without the difficult situation I would have never learned what I did wrong. It helped me grow’.
In order to be gritty, it is extremely important to develop the attitude of the latter.
But how do you develop this outlook if you don’t already have it?
Here’s a simple way that I have used to reframe a difficult situation from my past.
Every time I experienced something negative or something that I perceived as negative, I tried to come up with the good that came out of the situation or what I learned from it.
Situation: I was in a bad arranged marriage
Positive reframe: If not for the bad arranged marriage, I would have never learned or appreciated a good marriage. It also made me grow up as a person.
It is not so much about being positive, it is about looking at the bad situation in a positive light or as I like to call it a ‘learning lens’. The more you do it, the easier and more natural it gets.
In order to be successful, you have to have a mindset of constant learning and improvement. You have to scour for inefficiencies, pursue relevant goals, continuously learn and improve your products, your business models, and your knowledge.
You have to believe that anything can be learned.
Since you are reading this article, I believe that you already have a growth mindset and you are seeking information to grow.
That is fantastic because you have conquered the most important part of being successful.
So far I shared what we need to do while we pursue a goal so that we can make being gritty easier on ourselves.
Now comes the fun part.
Executing on our goal.
The daily grind.
You are ready to embark on your journey.
Dealing with Boredom
You have to think about consistency. Consistency in doing what needs to be done towards your goal. Consistency is key.
That might translate to consistency in exercising, or content marketing, or writing depending on your goal. Whatever it is, just stick with it.
Here’s a real world example demonstrating why consistency is key:
In the book Great by Choice, author Jim Collins shares the story of two explorers, Amundsen and Scott, who led separate teams on an expedition race to the South Pole in 1911.
Amundsen, the leader of team 1 told his team that they will all walk 20 miles every day no matter the weather. Even when the weather conditions were good Amundsen insisted that the team stop and get rest instead of pushing through.
Scott, the leader of team 2 told his team that they would walk as much as they could, depending on the weather conditions. When the weather was good Scott & team pushed as far as they could go before taking a break. On bad days they rested.
Guess which team made it back alive.
Team 1 did.
The one that consistently walked 20 miles no matter what the weather was.
Team 2 died on their way back due to harsh weather conditions and they were not rested enough to handle it.
Moral of the story, it is better to do something consistently, rest & rejuvenate than to do a lot inconsistently.
Consistency is key.
Unfortunately, consistency requires you to do something on a daily basis whether you see any results or not. It requires you to do something with no apparent reward in the short term. Not being able to see the reward causes frustration because it feels meaningless. Doing something meaningless causes boredom for most of us.
But how do you get past the boredom that comes with consistency?
Remember your why
Remember your why, the one that you figured out in the previous exercise. Now it’s time to post it anywhere you can see it on a daily basis. It could be on a sticky note on your computer, a sticky note on your mirror, or as a well-designed print from our shop. You can choose your reminder mechanism any which way you want.
Gamify your routine
Set micro goals on a daily basis and challenge yourself to achieve these. This will give you tiny wins and motivation to work with the boredom instead of feeling like you have to just push through. Gamifying is the best way to focus your attention on goals instead of on your boredom.
Track & Adjust Your Technique
To be motivated every day, you must see progress. On a daily basis that progress might seem insignificant but by keeping track of it you can see that you are making significant progress over a week or a month. It helps you see how far you have come, keeping you motivated to carry on.
If you see absolutely no progress then you will know you have to adjust your technique or try a new method to achieve your goal.
You might need to do this many times depending on your goal.
Doing this will eventually get you momentum and snowball you towards success.
Just like everything else, grit becomes a habit, success becomes a habit. The more you do it and practice it every day, it will become second nature. Looking back, I realize I have followed these exact steps in my own life and business. I didn’t do this through knowledge at that time. I did it through trial and error, frustrating myself many times and coming close to giving up many times.
But now that you have the full view of the path to success, it’ll be much easier for you to get there.
And please don’t take my word for it.
You should read all the books by some of the most successful people and learn from their experience.
I hope that my experience & takeaways help you observe and explore your path to success.
Let me know of your goals and the progress you make in the comments section below.
Would love to hear from you.
You can download the summary sheet for a visual cliff notes version of the path to success here.
- Duckworth, A. (2016). Grit: The power of passion and perseverance.
- Meadows, M. (2015). Grit: How to keep going when you want to give up.
- Stoltz, P. G. (1997). Adversity quotient: Turning obstacles into opportunities. New York: Wiley.
- Stoltz, P. G. (2014). Grit: The new science of what it takes to persevere, flourish, succeed.
- Thaler, L. K., & Koval, R. (n.d.). Grit to great: How perseverance, passion, and pluck take you from ordinary to extraordinary.
- Collins, J.C., & Hansen, M.T. (2011). Great by choice: Uncertainty, chaos, and luck: Why some thrive despite them all. New York, NY: Harper Collins