Moving from Motivation to Grit

When we want to remain steadfast, determined, and successful with an endeavor, we are likely moving from motivation to grit. Motivation is extremely important to help us work through challenges and difficulties, give the effort necessary to progress, and focus our attention to succeed. Motivation can also be divided into intrinsic and extrinsic, a determination that helps explain the driving force behind motivation (to read more about motivation please visit that blog post). Motivation can, however, come and go — or change in intensity. Dr. Angela Duckworth has researched grit to identify how we move past motivation and tap into grit — which is much more likely to endure. Grit is ideal for commitment to any endeavor we wish to master, foster greater discipline, or focus on for a career (or, as Dr. Duckworth would say, a calling).

Dr. Duckworth started her research in attempting to identify differences between students who would overcome extreme challenge and those who would give up as a result of them. Her discovery led to more and more information and understanding of what separates those who overcome from those who fold. Grit is what she identified as the key factor that successfully discriminates these groups. Her research shows that those with grit are very passionate, purposeful, and committed. If we want to secure the benefits for grit, we have to ask ourselves if we can identify the same things for our desired endeavor. These qualities can be developed and matured through intentional effort, which is, obviously, easier when we enjoy what we are doing.

Bringing passion to any endeavor seems like a no brainer; however, if we aren’t passionate about what we are doing, this seems like a pretty big obstacle. Exploring values and being able to apply these values to your passion can be invaluable. For example, someone may not be passionate about writing but they may have a value system that includes adventure. Writing about adventure may allow the person’s passion to thrive despite the fact that writing as such is not a top enjoyable activity. Alternatively, passion might be engaged through trying to see writing as an adventure itself: a challenge that requires effort, perhaps something unknown/new to explore, watching yourself evolve and overcome, creating a narrative that fits the adventure. Once that value is applied the passion can sometimes seem to come out of nowhere.

Having a purpose helps to drive effort beyond the passion because purpose allows us to feel that something is being fulfilled. Passion may fall short if we feel that we are not fulfilling something more than a simple pleasure. Listening to those who have purpose can be very inspiring and allows us to understand someone’s motivations to explain their behaviors, opinions, and attitudes. Purpose can be something greater than oneself — a cause or calling. Finding that purpose to help dedicate the endeavor to fulfilling it will pay substantial dividends in the end and along the way.

It would seem obvious that with passion and purpose, commitment would fall right into place. Nonetheless, we can sometimes see when passion is hard to identify (maybe the values have not been applied or identified adequately) and purpose seems to be fleeting (does this really fulfill anything?). When confronted with this challenge, understanding commitment and how it effects habitual behavior can complete the equation. Being committed will create a behavior that becomes so habitual that the lack of that behavior feels alien and as if something is missing. Dedicating to the commitment to an action (even one that feels like passion and purpose are still being created) may build the foundation needed for the development of further ingredients of grit. An example might be someone who commits to playing a musical instrument 90 minutes per day regardless of how they feel about it. Grit can be accomplished when we can develop a habit pattern, identify values for passion, and find purpose in fulfilling our endeavor. Ultimately, this will lead to sustained dedication and result in moving past or through challenges that may cause others to quit.

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