I bet you can’t pick the ripest tomatoes in the garden and bring them to the kitchen faster than your brother.”
My mom did not need to have a degree in psychology to know the best way to motivate her eldest daughter. She knew issuing a challenge was the way to get the result she wanted.
Throughout childhood, I wanted to climb the tree higher than my brother and get the highest score at family game night. I would practice my dinghy tactics and race strategy all summer to cross the finish line first at the junior sailing finals. I was born spunky, tenacious, and determined.
A renowned psychologist, Angela Duckworth, identified the characteristic “grit” as a key determiner of success when tracking schoolchildren’s performance in the classroom. She defines it as the ability to persist in something you feel passionate about and persevere when you face obstacles. Beyond IQ, talent, and whatever other strengths you bring, what most affects your ability to achieve your goals is grit.
“Being naturally smart and talented are great, but to truly do well and thrive, we need the ability to persevere. Without grit, talent may be nothing more than unmet potential. It is only with effort that talent becomes a skill that leads to success” (Duckworth, 2016).
I arrived at the Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop raw and untrained. Undeterred, I longed to learn the skills that I would need to become a creative, credible writer. Even though I was completely inexperienced, I jumped in the deep end of the pool. Sink or swim, I was ready to turn my dreams into reality. My character traits help me keep going when others falter—one foot in front of the other. Baby steps, yes, but always moving forward. This is grit.
Grit says, “I’ve got this.” It’s the power to push through obstacles when you are faced with a challenge.
The good news is, you can cultivate and develop your capacity for grit. It’s a skill that can be learned and practiced over time.
Don’t give up or let self-doubt derail your dreams. Press on, full steam ahead. Sometimes I find the need to put my project away until the next day to look at it again with fresh eyes. Come back to it refreshed and resolved.
Keep sending those pitches, even if you don’t hear back. With enough stick-to-itiveness, we can overcome the inevitable bumps in the road. Everyone stumbles occasionally, but the real failure is in not picking yourself back up to continue your journey.
A great way to practice grit and determination is to keep your eye on the goals you have set for yourself. When you fix your goals firmly in mind, you will find it easier tostick to your plan no matter the setbacks. And you will reach those goals, as long asyou have enough grit.
There is nothing like turning in that article on time and getting praise from your editor for a job well done and that proud feeling of landing another byline. After all, that’s what we’re in this for—to see our names in print and live the life we want because of it.