The Best Word for 2021 is GRIT

My 2021 Word of the Year is GRIT

There are several times in my life where, looking back, I wish I'd had what my mom used to call "sticktoitiveness" or stick-to-it-tive-ness, which is appropriately defined as dogged determination. There are times when I gave up on my goals, out of discouragement, when I should have pushed through and persevered. Perseverance doesn't necessarily mean that you stay in the same place, it just means that you find a way to stay in the game. An easier four-letter word here is "grit." Grit is my absolute favorite word for 2021, and we could all use a little more of it.

In music, I tried for years to write and produce good songs, but finding an audience alluded me. It often felt like no one was interested in my sound, which could have been true, though my views and likes did trickle in slowly. It's also possible that I didn't persevere long enough to find and grow my audience. I was impatient, and I grew frustrated that my audience wasn't getting larger. Instead of digging in deeper or asking for help, I put even more hours into my legal career, something I knew I was good at, instead of working harder at my music.

Of course, the entire point of pursuing my musical dreams had been to achieve balance between my analytical, legal side and my creative side. So, in a way I failed. I stopped writing songs for a year, but I regrouped and picked it back up again. I accepted the errors I made and acknowledged what steps I took, or failed to take, that could have impacted my success. I started writing music again, though now my focus is much different. What would've happened had I gone "all in" for one more year? Had I paid a marketing team or booked more shows? What goals could I have achieved had I approached my music with the same grit as my legal career?

You might be discouraged at work in a company where no one expresses interest in your development or professional goals. You might have dreamed of selling your songs, or your art, but found that your Instagram or YouTube followers were reluctantly engaged. Perhaps you gave up when you kept hearing "no" each time you tried to pitch your new business idea or sell your product. Well, 2021 is a new year. Will you give up on your goal, or will you show some grit and persevere until you see a breakthrough?

What is Grit?

Grit is perseverance toward a long-term goal despite the people or obstacles in your way. It's too easy to give up when you don't see a path to success. You need a powerful motivation to have grit - to 1- set a goal and 2- stay the course. So, what's your motivation? Grit doesn't come from nowhere. It comes from setting a goal that you're completely motivated to achieve. If you don't have grit, maybe it's not your time just yet. Maybe your idea isn't fully baked. Maybe you need more time to live through more of what you don't want to settle on what you do.

How Do You Develop Grit?

Simple motivation may not be sufficient to sustain you on dreams and goals that are unconventional and more difficult to achieve. Grit, however, is something that's born out of circumstance and perhaps personality. If you don't have it, you still may stumble upon it when you come across a big idea, dream or goal that you're deeply afraid of never realizing, the accomplishment of which would be your greatest success. Few things worth achieving come quickly or easily. Grit is what you need.

It's often said that "if you never know failure, you will never know success." Another popular saying is "fail fast." Both are true, so when you have grit and find your dream or goal slipping away, you'll fail fast, incorporate what you've learned and get back up again. That's grit. I declare "grit" to be the 2021 word of the year because it's the four letter word what stands between dreams realized and dreams defeated. How do you develop grit? Refuse to give up, but if you do give up, allow yourself a quick break, refocus and start again.

Also, check out this great TEDx on grit.


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© 2021 by Shai Littlejohn