We all have long-term goals. We have our dreams, which we hope to achieve one day. Along the way, though, there’d be struggles and tests. How do we keep going? Well, there’s a study that shows grit perseverance and passion for long term goals is the way to go.
I’ve always dreamed of a good life — to finish College, have my own happy family, own a house and a car, a business that can sustain our needs and wants, and more. These are all long-term goals. I work hard every day to make sure that little by little I achieve them.
But you know what I realized? It’s not easy. Every day you have to strive hard. You have to be focused. You have to persevere and be passionate about it. That is why, when I read the study conducted by Angela Duckworth of the University of Pennsylvania that sums up to grit perseverance and passion for long term goals, I just couldn’t agree more.
Just to give you an idea about what I am talking about, below is the abstract of the study in verbatim.
“The importance of intellectual talent to achievement in all professional domains is well established, but less is known about other individual differences that predict success. The authors tested the importance of 1 non-cognitive trait: grit. Defined as perseverance and passion for long-term goals, grit accounted for an average of 4% of the variance in success outcomes, including educational attainment among 2 samples of adults (N=1,545 and N=690), grade point average among Ivy League undergraduates (N=138), retention in 2 classes of United States Military Academy, West Point, cadets (N=1,218 and N=1,308), and ranking in the National Spelling Bee (N=175). Grit did not relate positively to IQ but was highly correlated with Big Five Conscientiousness. Grit nonetheless demonstrated incremental predictive validity of success measures over and beyond IQ and conscientiousness. Collectively, these findings suggest that the achievement of difficult goals entails not only talent but also the sustained and focused application of talent over time.”
Oh! I put it there for reference, but, to really sum it up – it says that grit, which pertains to perseverance and passion for long-term goals is the secret to success based on their respondents’ answers to the questionnaire they created. It says that grit per se is not related to a person’s IQ, rather, it is highly correlated with what they call in psychology the Big Five Conscientiousness (). Achieving one’s goal does not only rely on a person’s talent, but also on his talent, focus, and determination.
But I thought, if grit perseverance and passion for long term goals is the key, then how do we put it into action? I listed down 3 effective ways to achieve your goals based on my understanding of the study and on how I personally cope to make sure I am always on the track towards achieving my goals.
- Persevere: Enduring the Process. The process towards achieving your long-term goal is not easy. Believe me, because a lot of times, I saw and continue to see myself in a corner because sometimes it gets really tough. But you know, when you really want something, you just keep going no matter what. You endure the process.
- Stay focused on the goal. When you keep your eye on the goal, no matter how hard or painful the journey is, you will keep going. You will continue to work hard. There would be a lot of temptations along the way, but if you are focused, you will get through every obstacle.
- Be passionate at it. Passion is your drive towards achieving your goal. When you are passionate about something, you are likely to succeed. Passion is something that will never be taken away from you. You may feel exhausted from time to time, but at the end of the day, when you are truly passionate about something, you go get it.
While grit perseverance and passion for long term goals is the way to go, we cannot deny the fact that – as I said earlier – the journey won’t be easy. There would be a lot of times when you get tested. Worst, sometimes, no matter how much you work hard for it, it just feels like it’s not for you. It feels like the stars are not agreeing with you. Then, how to deal with that?
Expectations versus reality
From childhood, you started to paint dreams that were woven with the wool of perfect expectations, and stitched together forming an ideal life. You may have altered these dreams slightly as the years trickled by. But someone set the overall framework early on. It tends to shape your decisions, expectations, and fuel any feelings of regret.
What did you dream of? Here’s a scene. You dreamt of traveling the world for a few years, then you have a well-paying career that you were passionate about, married an amazing husband, and had two near-perfect children, all by the age of 33. Seems like living life, right? You’re probably thinking that your dreams were not too uncommon. To say that you missed the mark would be all too polite. You’re way off course. You probably feel that way. But are you really off course? Or are exactly where you need to be?
Questions To Ask Yourself
While grit perseverance and passion for long term goals is making a point, what if that dream picture was formed during a time when you had little concept of what living, I mean, real up-and-down-triumph-trial- living was? And what if they were based on the ideal prompted by your parents, soap operas, glossy magazines, and billion-budget movies?
I know, that’s a lot of questions. You need to ask yourself those questions so you can strip the expectations of their power.
You’re going to rip the foundations out from under them, so they can no longer stand.
They’re deceptive dreams that were formed before you even knew who you were or what you wanted. And most importantly, they were formed before you had an understanding of life. The understanding that things don’t always go as planned. And that’s okay that they don’t. It’s got to be okay or you’ll stay stuck on a cycle of perfect expectations that will never be fulfilled. Because that is life, sometimes, no matter how much you work hard for something, when it’s not for you, it will never be for you.
The pressure of expectations
It’s okay to have big, juicy dreams. They’re natural and healthy. It’s when you attach strict time-frames and absolutes to them that dreams become poisonous to positive thought. When you expect things to happen exactly by a certain time-frame, or in a certain way, you are setting yourself up for deep disappointment. Life happens. And within that, things will not happen as you expected and when you expected.
I’ve learned to loosen the pressure of dream deadlines in my life. I’ve also learned to focus more on the core of what I want over the specifics. For example, instead of expecting to be married at a certain age, start expecting the core that desire: deep intimate relationships where you could learn and grow. And that’s an example of an advantage to things not being as expected. You could use the relationships to learn and develop emotionally.
How to break free and accept what is
Spin your perspective from what you had expected to what is advantageous about things being different. Are there benefits to the way your life has worked out? This takes deep thought as your initial response will be no. But keep digging. Are there any pluses at all? There always are and you’ll find them, but only if you look for them.
My best friend is single in her late 30’s, no kids. She expected different. But she travels the world on a whim. I asked her one day if there were any advantages to how her life has turned out so far, she said that there weren’t. Then she thought about it, without perceiving through the filter of how things should be. She had to admit there were pluses. The entire lifestyle that she loved at present was possible because of the way things had turned out so differently.
Appreciating what you’ve done, who you are
Don’t get me wrong, I still stand on what I said earlier that when you want something, you go out and get it. You work hard for it, you persevere and be passionate about it – remember grit perseverance and passion for long term goals is the key.
But admittedly, life as it is, there are goals or dreams that were not based on your timeline or not for you at all. What to do then?
Take stock of what you have already accomplished. Focus on tangibles. Goals, results, progression are the keys to a well-lived life. With that mindset, it’s easy to forget to appreciate what we’ve accomplished so far. And not all of these accomplishments are obvious, by the way.
Rather than focusing on physical accomplishments, like earning degrees, succeeding in business or career, having a perfect marriage, why not try focusing on accomplishments that are emotional in nature.
Last year was particularly tough for my family. Who knows why, but every once in a while, life likes to throw these trying years at you. Full speed. I survived. We all did. And not only that, we are closer because of it. That’s actually a big accomplishment to me.
Every one of us has endured a lot of crap. Crappy situations, relationships, events, etc. don’t celebrate the crap, but appreciate your endurance, tenacity, and what you learned from it (everything teaches).
Little Pennies Are The Triumph
Make a list of things that you have accomplished. They may be physical and emotional. Go back as far as you’d like. Keep this list. Look at it every time you think that you are not as far as you’d want to be or that you haven’t accomplished all of the ideal goals you expected by now. Use the list as a reminder of the strength of who you are and the more subtle — and not so subtle — life experiences that you have braved. They are enough.
Everything that you have accomplished is enough. You are enough. I know this sounds cheesy, but until you start getting that point on a deep level, you’ll live in a constant state of disappointment with how things are. Even if you strive to change things, there’ll still be this idea that someone how you are running late and when you do arrive, you’ll probably miss the party. The party is already happening. It’s your life.
You know, to be perfectly honest, you can only do so much. We can only do so much. We can always use grit perseverance and passion for long term goals, but, at the end of the day, who really knows? Nobody knows if that goal we are dreaming to have is really for us. No matter how much we work hard for it, persevere and be passionate about it, sometimes, it’s just really not destined for us. But, we keep trying. We don’t easily give up. Because like I said, who knows? Maybe, just maybe, because of our grit, the universe will conspire and give in to what we are dreaming of.