From the time we’re kids, we’re taught the value of perseverance. Fall off your bike? Get back on it. Struggle with a spelling test at school? Study harder for the next one. Get into a fight with your BFF on the playground? Come to them the next day ready to try to make things right. If you persevered enough, your parents may have even bought you ice cream. As adults, we’re motivated to power through challenges by other things (though ice cream still works for many of us): success at work, healthy bodies, reciprocal relationships, cozy homes. But that doesn’t make it any easier to stay the course when the going gets tough.

Confident woman looks at camera

Enter grit, a synonym for perseverance that’s been all the rage in personal development over the last few years. If you’re working on cultivating that stick-to-it attitude, look no further. Nicole Ng of brain training and mental engagement platform Lumosity has nine tips to help you step up your grit game and stay more focused than ever on your goals.

1. Practice. Before you create your specific road map to grittiness, Ng encourages you to wrap your head around a very basic mindset: Grit is a muscle that needs to be exercised. Train your mind to use it and it will feel more natural. Don’t quit on grit just because it feels new to you. That’s what the rest of these tips are for!

2. Make a plan. What kinds of goals do you think will be easier for you to achieve once you’ve achieved more grit? Will you be able to more effectively climb your way to the top of the ladder at work? Will you finally be able to run that half marathon that you’ve been considering for years? Get specific about what you’d like to accomplish with grit on your side. This will encourage you to persevere.

3. Celebrate small wins. With your big goals in mind, it’s time to establish the smaller milestones that will let you know you’re on the right track. Maybe it looks like positive feedback from your supervisor or going for a run without feeling totally out of breath. When you know what small wins you’re looking for, you’ll be more likely to celebrate them, which will inspire you to dig in and keep chipping away at your bigger picture aims.

4. Build your tribe. If you want to be truly gritty, Ng emphasizes the importance of community and accountability. “Be sure to fill your roster with people who share your attitude toward growing and have similar passion but [have] different expertise,” she says. “You can make big strides with teammates who approach problems as opportunities, and just as important, they will make good accountability buddies.” Make a habit of scheduling check-in times with these people so they can see how you’re doing on the path to your goals.

5. Give yourself mental space. “Grit requires passion and long-term effort, but awareness of timing is important,” Ng tells us. “Pushing yourself full-force 100 percent of the time leaves you susceptible to burnout, so identifying when you need to scale back or take a time-out will help keep you on track.” Don’t be afraid to take a hot minute away from the hustle. It doesn’t make you any less gritty — it just makes you aware that your brain needs time to breathe if it’s going to persevere and be successful.

6. Be playful and purposeful. Enjoy the process of pursuing your goals. Cultivating curiosity along the way is key. If you’re chasing that big promotion at work, spend time researching your industry and figuring out what matters to you about your business outside of the specific tasks that cross your desk. If you’re working on becoming a long-distance runner, shake up your route so you can check out new sights or treat yourself to new workout gear so you feel your best at all times.

7. Realize that setbacks are part of the process. Grit is all about establishing a mindset of growth, according to Ng. You may experience challenges along the way, but that doesn’t mean that your goal is out of your reach. It just may not have happened for you yet.

8. Embrace the fail. “People with a growth mindset seek out environments that have adversity built into them, even though environments and situations with novel challenges typically come with setbacks,” Ng says. “It’s important to recognize and value the opportunity that comes with failure: learning.” Stepping out of your comfort zone and putting yourself in situations that make you prone to failure will cultivate grit and make you that much more grateful when you do experience success.

9. Never quit in a valley. It’s tempting to give up at a low point, but it’s not going to gain you any grit points. Working hard at moving past those low points will help you get grittier and will encourage you to develop some coping mechanisms too. “Understand your own way of making it through the valleys,” Ng tells us. “What type of help do you need? Why type of perspective is helpful? How long does it take you to climb out? Practicing moving through failure is a great way to practice grit.”

Do you want to practice more grit? How are you going to start? Tweet us @BritandCo!

(Photo via Getty)