In Positive psychology

ways to increase grit

Grit is a hot topic in education. The definition of grit: a non-cognitive trait denoting an individual’s passion, focus, and ability to persevere through challenges. The non-cognitive part of grit points to something deeper than merely being smart. Basically, grit is how tough you are and capable of completing hard work.

Grit is prized in education because students who score higher on grit scores are more likely to stay in school and graduate. It is prized in the “real world” because, well, who doesn’t like it when people are tough and can follow through on priorities.

In working with students as an Academic Life Coach, I’ve been using the concept with students and have developed a few techniques to get students thinking and acting grittier.

5 Ways to Increase Grit

Measure Your Grit. If you want something to increase, measure it. Here is a link to the Grit Test developed by Angela Duckworth and Christopher Peterson. I think the test penalizes having new interests a little too hard, but overall, it is a great test that gives students at least an idea of the kind of characteristics that make up grit. (By the way, I scored a 3.75 on the test. I’m pretty happy with that score.) 

Explore Your Ideas about Grit. Your reaction to the Grit Test is valuable. Here are some questions to explore: What surprises you about your Grit score? What do you like about the test? What don’t you like about the test? What’s the grittiest aspect of your life? What could you do to increase your Grit score?

Cultivate both a playful and get-it-done attitude. The grittiest people I know do two things consistently. First, they cultivate a playful attitude towards challenges. Whatever comes up, they ask themselves how they can make it fun and facing challenges even pleasant. Second, if that doesn’t work, they go to a tough-as-nails, get-it-done attitude. In combination, both attitudes form a powerful pair that invites an experience of flow {link to a flow blog} where skill meets challenge level.

Expect the Task to Be Hard, but Know You Can Do Hard Things. Imagine a task everyone considers easy, yet when you try to do it, you fail. How motivated are you to keep failing at a seemingly easy task? It is nearly impossible to get students motivated to use a planner if for years everyone has been telling them that using a daily planner is easy and simple to do. Yet after two weeks, he or she misses a day, then two days, then all of a sudden, the easy task represents an embarrassing failure. Expect the tasks, especially tasks that require consistency over time, to be tough. Then cultivate an attitude that you can do hard things.

Develop Your Resilience. Do you have a written plan on how to get yourself out of a slump? In my informal survey, less than 1% of people have a written resilience plan. Yet having a plan is incredibly valuable to remind yourself of self-compassion, the feeling of being in flow, and your brilliance. My plan? I have a song list and meditation that I rock to get me back on track.

Like many skills, Grit can be developed. Cultivate Grit and you will notice a few immediate changes. The first is being exhausted. Grit takes a certain amount of stamina. I see students transition from summer break academia go through a mental workout that mimics the first few weeks of the start of a sports season.

The second: you’ll feel great about yourself. Being grittier is a fantastic feeling. Your confidence will build, knowing that you can handle hard things. 

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