Let's start with a reminder of what we understand Grit to be:
1. Set Challenging Long-term Goals - the starting point
What is the big, long-term goal that you want to achieve? It is likely to be something that will take several years to achieve. Perhaps there is a 5 - 10 year business goal; or a long-term goal in terms of a qualification you want to achieve; or a challenging financial goal that you are after.
Put this goal down on paper. Build as much detail into what the successful achievement of the goal will look like. This could be in the form of:
- a vision board - find pictures that illustrate what achievement of the goal will look like;
- a blueprint or set of plans (as one might have for building a house);
- a detailed verbal description of the goal with clear visual or measurable descriptors of the detail.
Whatever you put down, it must inspire YOU. It is not for other people. They don't have to approve or agree. The idea of achieving your big long-term goal is that the idea of its achievement gets you excited.
- Break the big long-term goal into its component parts. You can brainstorm this. Accept that you will inevitably leave something out, so allow for the idea of building this document over time. It will never be perfect and it will always evolve. Each of these component parts will be a sub-goal of the larger goal.
- Decide where to start. Think about which sub-goals are dependent on the achievement of other sub-goals. These dependencies will influence the order in which you do things. Also think about which sub-goals are easy to achieve early on - these will give you a sense of achievement and efficacy, which energizes you for some of the tougher sub-goals. Once again, there is no perfect place to start. What you are looking for is a starting point that gets you moving and whose achievement is not so far down the line that even the idea of getting started is overwhelming. Your sub-goal could be the accumulation of information that will make it easier to make future decisions - often we don't know where to start because we don't know what will be involved. Well then that is your first sub-goal - to gather the information that will enable good planning.
- Write an action plan for the first sub-goal to be tackled. You know how to do this: write the action and give each one a deadline. Draw it up in a table that can be updated in real-time (check out the free project management tools that are available online - clickup.com/blog/free-project-management-software/).
- Put the actions into your calendar. Now you not only know the deadline for taking the action, but you have also set aside time for taking the action.
- Update your project manager as you execute each task - set this up as a visual because as you update it, you will have a sense of achievement.
- Set aside time in your calendar as an appointment with yourself to do your weekly, monthly and annual planning.
- As part of your monthly planning, go back and look at the sub-goals and figure out which can now come onto your radar, and compile the action plan. Add this to your project manager.
Self-discipline: There is no success without it
- Remind yourself that the time is going to pass anyway. This might be a 10-year goal - but the 10 years are going to pass anyway. Do you want to 10 years from now and still talking or thinking about this, or do you want to be 10 years into the execution of your goal? Time is not going to stand still while you make up your mind.
- Planning must become part of your routine. Block out a day in your calendar once a year to do some annual planning (even if you will be doing it alone). Block out time in your calendar monthly to look at your annual plan and decide what actions are to be taken in the coming month - and schedule those actions. Have a time every week when you do some planning for the coming week. These planning disciplines ensure that you keep your big long-term goal on your radar and that you don't get too far behind.
- Have an accountability partner. I can't tell you how valuable it is to have someone to whom you formally report on progress. It must be someone who is strong enough to call you on your bullshit; someone who will give you the look when you make excuses; someone who will cheer you on when you cross off big milestones; someone who will encourage you when you have setbacks or go off track.
- Celebrate your wins! This could mean cracking open the champagne when you achieve an important milestone and celebrating with someone. It could be a post on social media so that others can join you in the celebration. Even if you don't think you are the kind of person who needs to celebrate success, you are. Celebration of success spurs us on to the next stage in the journey and gives you a vital opportunity to experience some joy.
- Get back on the horse! You will miss deadlines. You will get busy and distracted with other stuff. You will do a whole lot of work that doesn't deliver what you had expected. Some of your plans will go off track. That's life. People with Grit don't spend a lot of time beating themselves up. They also don't give up. They get back on the horse and keep going. This is a critical element of Grit.
- Understand that developing Grit requires that you do gritty things. You won't develop Grit first and then be able to pursue big long-term goals. You will develop Grit while you are pursuing these goals. So do gritty things and little by little you will realise that you have become a gritty person!