Blonde woman, Kasey Jo Orvidas, Ph.D, standing on a pier. Text says, maybe she's born with it maybe it's grit.

The Key to Achieving Your Goals

grit growth mindset mindset passion practice psychology psychology research purpose research Mar 04, 2020

As a psychologist (who specializes in behavior change) and a fitness coach - I’m often asked about what makes some people successful while others continue to struggle. 

According to the research we have on goal achievement, one of those factors is something called grit.

As you know, I, Coach Kasey, am all about the science of mindset and adopting a growth mindset for more success. Grit is something that can go a long with a growth mindset.

Today, we will discuss how grit can help you achieve your goals and how you can get more gritty. 

Research shows that grit is a much better predictor of your success in almost any endeavor in comparison to things that are often considered more important for success, like genetics or luck.

Although I spend most of my time talking about health and fitness goals (this is where my expertise and passions lie!), grit is one of the most important common denominators among all high-achievers, whether that’s in fitness, sports, business, or the arts. 


How to Achieve Your Goals

Grit is defined as “passion and perseverance for long-term goals.”⁣

From spelling bee champs to West Point cadet graduates (Duckworth et al., 2011; 2007)⁣, grit sets apart the winners from the losers and the go-getters from the give-uppers.⁣

Gritty people are willing to endure more discomfort, disappointment, and sometimes downright despair in pursuit of their long-term goals. 

This means that grit is your key to success. Whether you’re looking to achieve your fat loss goals or are focusing on personal or professional development, grit can help you get there.

You may be wondering how grit differs from concepts like work ethic, consciousness, or tenacity, and in truth, there’s a lot of overlap between these qualities. 

What makes “grit” unique, though, is the quality of consistently working at a big, hairy, audacious goal no matter what obstacles you encounter. People with grit climb over, dig under, and smash through whatever is in their way to achieve their goals and are willing to forgo immediate pleasures in pursuit of the bigger prize. 

Gritty people are willing to endure defeat and failure and the inevitable doldrums of despair and boredom—for years if necessary—without losing their resolve.   

If you’ve read anything about weight loss, muscle building, or fitness, this probably isn’t a surprise. 

You know that to lose weight, you have to stick to your diet for weeks before you see any signs of progress and months before you accomplish your goal. 

You know that to build muscle, you have to diligently stick to your program and push yourself harder and harder for months on end. 

And you know that to stay healthy and vibrant for the long haul, you have to keep up all of these behaviors for the rest of your life.

That said, many of us still struggle at times to stay the course and stick to our goals no matter the obstacles. 

But the good news is that you can grow your grit!


Evidence-Based ways to Grow your Grit

That’s right, even if you don’t have grit now, or you don’t have much, you can grow more to increase your odds of success. 

A good example of this comes from a study conducted by scientists at Chicago State University, where the researchers looked at the relationship between grit and exercise habits (Reed et al., 2012).

The researchers had 1,171 people complete a survey that assessed their grit, conscientiousness (the tendency to be goal-oriented and organized), and how intensely they exercised.

The results? 

Conscientiousness didn’t predict how much or how hard people worked out. That is, people who scored relatively high on this personality trait weren’t more #dedicated to their training than people who scored fairly low. 

The people who scored the highest in terms of grit were 30% more likely to train the hardest (versus reports of moderate or low-intensity exercise) and generally worked out more often than those who scored the lowest.

As you might expect, research also shows grittiness helps you lose weight more effectively. 

Dr. Anglea Duckworth, a psychology professor at Penn State University, has spent her entire career studying how to increase your grittiness.

She’s written a best-selling book on the topic, advised White House staffers, Fortune 500 CEOs, and NFL and NBA players, and her TED talk on grit is one of the most viewed of all time. 

Through her extensive research, she’s identified four key ways you can increase your grittiness:

Pursue passions with a purpose 

Believe in positive prospects

Practice, practice, practice

Find “your” people

I’ll dive into each of these more, so you can use these evidence-based tips to grow your grit!


Passion and Purpose⁣

Even if it’s not present now, find a way to make goal-conducive behaviors meaningful to you. 

By deepening and cultivating sincere interest, you’re obtaining more grit.⁣

From a fitness perspective, this could look like finding workouts you enjoy. You don’t have to do HIIT workouts five days a week to get results. You have to do workouts that you enjoy and support your fitness goals (see: progressive overload). 

Find workouts you genuinely enjoy doing and focus on those. 

The same goes for your diet. 

Do you like following a low-carb diet, or are you doing it because your favorite Instagram influencer follows a low-carb diet?

If you genuinely enjoy eating low carb, you won’t have trouble sticking to the diet, but if you’re only doing it because that’s what you think you’re supposed to do, it won’t work out so well. 

You don’t have to cut out carbs to lose weight. In fact, you don’t have to cut out any food groups to lose weight!

What you have to do is find a diet that works for you and that is sustainable for you.

One of the reasons people think they lack grit is because they’re wasting their willpower on activities they don’t truly care about. So, before you tell yourself you don’t have enough grit to achieve your goals, take a moment to reassess your goals. 

Before you assume you just don’t have what it takes, take an objective look at what you’re trying to do, cut out anything nonessential, and focus on what’s truly important. 

Once you’ve narrowed down your actions to the things that are truly important, you need to dive deeper. You need to find your “fitness whys.” 

You need to figure out what will keep you on track toward your goals. 

Are you losing weight because you want to impress other people or because taking care of your body is inherently important to you?

Do you want to get stronger just to scribble numbers in your workout log or to stay strong, vital, and healthy into old age to keep up with your kids and even grandkids? 

Do you want to eat healthier just to lose weight, or so you can set a good example for your friends and family? 

Figure out what makes you tick, and you’ll be surprised with how gritty you’ll suddenly become. 


Positive Prospects⁣

In one word: HOPE. 

Believing that outcomes will be favorable and keeping your hopes high will do wonders for your grit. (This is where a growth mindset really comes into play!)⁣

You can have all the passion in the world for eating healthy and working out, but if you don’t fundamentally believe change is possible—you won’t be as gritty as you could be. 

Previous research shows that having a growth mindset (believing you can change) predicts higher motivation and increases grit (Zhao et al., 2018).

When things get tough—and they will—many people tell themselves this is proof that they were never meant to get the body they wanted. It just wasn’t in the cards. 

If you’re able to change your thinking and believe that your goal is possible, these challenges start to look like minor speed bumps along the road to ultimate success.

If your goal is to deadlift twice your body weight, you have to believe that you can (eventually) deadlift twice your body weight. By telling yourself that it’s impossible, you’re creating a self-fulfilling prophecy that it won’t happen.

Whatever your goal is, try shifting your mindset and telling yourself that it is possible to achieve it, and you’ll be surprised at how much more successful you are. 

It’s much easier to be gritty when you believe in yourself, so when things get tough, remind yourself that you can achieve your goal if you just keep pushing yourself. 


Think you could get away with little to no effort? No, ma’am.

You must accept that effort is involved and prepare to get it done (over and over again)⁣. Nobody has achieved greatness without any effort. 

Want to lose fat? It takes effort to be in a calorie deficit. 

Want to run a faster mile? It takes effort to increase your endurance and speed. 

Come to terms with the fact that you have to put in some effort and get it done. 

Developing grit is a skill like any other, and the more you train your grit muscles, the stronger they’ll become. 

In other words, you can turn grit into a habit. 

Building grit involves setting small goals with relatively short-term deadlines to keep you on track toward your bigger goals.

For example, instead of trying to lose weight by cutting your calorie intake in half and doing an hour of cardio per day, start with something you know you can stick to for the long haul.

Maybe just start by eating fruits or veggies and protein at every meal and making sure you get to the gym at least three days per week. 

Then, the next step would be to create a meal plan, maintain a calorie deficit, and follow a proper strength training plan.

Keep building in small increments, and, over time, you’ll see a significant increase in your grit!


Simply put, surround yourself with gritty peeps. If your people aren’t ambitious, determined, and self-efficacious, you also have less reason to be. 

If you really want to level up, surround yourself with people that make you want to be and do better. 

You’ve probably heard the famous Jim Rohn quote, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Well, it’s true, and especially so when it comes to getting gritty.

If you want to live a healthy lifestyle, surround yourself with people who value health and fitness. 

Whether you want to believe it or not, your friends, family, colleagues, gym partners, and significant others have a huge influence on your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, which can also affect your natural inclination or aversion to grittiness.

Even if you don’t realize it, surrounding yourself with un-gritty people will sabotage your ability to get and stay gritty.

If your best friend leans towards “all-or-nothing” thinking and always seems to be picking up new goals without finishing them, she might not be the best person to depend on for support.

But maybe your co-worker is always on top of his health and fitness game and can help you level up.

Before adding and subtracting people from your life—remember that some productive communication with your people might be all it takes to resolve any friction.

Ask yourself: Do they know how important my goals are to me? Have I communicated to them why I’m making these changes in my life? Would they be more supportive if I was more clear about what I’m doing?

You’d be surprised how considerate people can be after a conversation like this. 


⁣Work with a Coach


Looking at social media, it seems that just about everyone is a “mindset coach”, but there’s more to improving your mindset than working with someone who simply decided to call themselves a mindset coach. 

At KJO Coaching, we have extensive training in helping our clients improve their mindset to achieve their health and fitness goals. We know what it takes to really shift your mindset, get more gritty, and crush your goals. 

If you’re interested in working with a stellar coach who is well equipped to guide you towards a healthier mindset and achieve your physique, strength, and wellness goals, click here to learn more about working with us!

Check out my original Instagram post here.


Connect with us!

Email: [email protected]

IG: @coachkaseyjo @kjocoaching



Duckworth, A. L., Kirby, T. A., Tsukayama, E., Berstein, H., & Ericsson, K. A. (2011). Deliberate practice spells success: Why grittier competitors triumph at the National Spelling Bee. Social psychological and personality science, 2(2), 174-181.


Reed, J., Pritschet, B. L., & Cutton, D. M. (2013). Grit, conscientiousness, and the transtheoretical model of change for exercise behavior. Journal of health psychology, 18(5), 612-619.


Zhao, Y., Niu, G., Hou, H., Zeng, G., Xu, L., Peng, K., & Yu, F. (2018). From growth mindset to grit in Chinese schools: The mediating roles of learning motivations. Frontiers in Psychology, 2007.

Hi, I'm Kasey!

I coach, mentor, write, and teach with one main focus: Build strong bodies and healthy lifestyles, starting with your mindset.


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