Gritty Goal Setting

Gritty Goal Setting

Grit Part 1: Chapters 1-5

Posted on Jan. 12th, 2022

"Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard." - Tim Notke

This mentality gets at the essence of what Duckworth defines as grit. In this first part of her book, Duckworth dives deeper into our human tendency to value talent over hard work and makes an argument for our ability to close the gap on those we deem more talented than we are through sustained effort and near singular focus. Often times, we see people excel at a given task and we are tempted to suggest that they are a natural, gifted, or a genius. This mindset encourages us to relax into the status quo. "We are not obliged to compare ourselves and find ourselves lacking…To call someone 'divine' means: 'here there is no need to compete'." (pg# 90). However, Duckworth argues that such supposed genius develops through the mundane daily habits over the course an extended period of sustained work. Talent may be representative of how quickly one's skills improve with effort—and that is still important—but achievement is what happens when we put effort into using those acquired skills in the long run. In order to make the best use of said skills, the first step is to set goals to ensure that the hard work is productive. Here is a summary of the ways that we can all be gritty goal setters in a given aspect of our lives according to this book:

1. Determine your ultimate concern. Grit is about holding the same top-level goal for a long time. Most of your actions daily should derive their significance from this concern. Some might consider it to be a life philosophy. Let it set the tone for your days.

2. Create a goal hierarchy. Write down 20-25 goals that you currently have. Anything from the mundane daily habits (trying to go to bed earlier, trying to drink more water everyday) to the higher-level goals (completing a marathon, lifting twice your body weight). Organize these goals towards a common purpose, connecting one goal to the other and creating lines to the ultimate concern. Avoid any goal that leads to a dead end and does not serve the common purpose, it is merely a temptation and distraction.

3. Be malleable. Not every low-level or even mid-level goal will be achieved. It is ok to fail and be disappointed, but don't let it define you. Find a new low-level goal that can achieve a similar purpose and at times, it is even appropriate to remove the goal altogether.

In short, gritty goal setters have a singular high-level goal in a given aspect of their lives (be it professional, personal, etc) and a clear, yet flexible path of smaller goals to ensure that their hard work is not futile.

Discussion Questions

1. Do you write down your goals? What are some of the daily lower and mid-level goals you've developed in pursuit of your high-level goal?

2. How gritty are you? In chapter 4, Duckworth presents us with a simplified version of her grit scale that allows us to estimate our level of grit on a scale of 1-5. Where did you score? How do you think this compares to what you would have scored earlier in life?

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