11 Tips to Create “Grit” Within

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What’s Your To-Do List?

Give gratitude, meditate, 30 minute yoga routine, shower, dry hair, apply lotion and make-up, dress to impress, fix cup of coffee, create to-do list for the day, write a check and leave outside for the lawn care crew, check email, respond to the plumber, the PTA president, SIL, read daily e-newsletter, pay water bill online, feed pets, make breakfast for 4, wake up the household, make beds, eat breakfast while chopping food for the evening meal, rinse breakfast dishes, place in dishwasher, start the dishwasher, make and pack 4 lunches, brush teeth, put on shoes, grab purse, backpacks and lunches, walk out of the house.

Uff-da! That’s a long task list to complete in the first few hours of being awake.

But what happens when you go to make those 4 lunches but you are out of bread? Or what do you do if you go to write the check before remembering that you used the last one the week before? What about if you drop your coffee cup and it shatters on the kitchen floor? Or if your cat threw up multiple times throughout the night?

How would any of those situations affect you? Would you feel stressed? Anxious? Would the rest of your day be ruined? You haven’t even left the house for the day and suddenly your shoulders are tense and you have a headache.

NAPO Conference

I recently attended my first NAPO (National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals) conference which happened to be in Fort Worth (wahoo for the close location!). My brain was overloaded from the informative sessions, but one session stood out above the rest. I had the privilege to listen to Janice Simon who spoke about resiliency. She was a firecracker! Smart and engaging, with a side of humor. I enjoyed her session immensely and wanted to pass along some of her wisdom.

In the session, Janice described 11 methods on how to build your mental toughness and grit (aka your resiliency). She stated that your resilience is like a muscle and can be conditioned to become stronger. Building up your mental toughness will help you face challenges head on. By utilizing the methods below (throughout the day, week, or month, you choose!), you can train yourself to focus on positives rather than any negative stressors that pop up in your daily life.

11 Tips to Create “Grit” Within:

  1. ABC Method
    • Accept Reality: doesn’t mean you agree, but you do have the power to control your thoughts and emotions about what happened. The coffee cup broke. Okay, it happened, I cannot change that it happened but I accept that it happened.
    • Behave Productivity: when you focus on the negative or behave unproductively, your mental strength becomes depleted. Ask yourself what is one thing you can do now that will benefit yourself. The coffee cup broke. I can clean it up now so that when I arrive home after work, my mood won’t be ruined by the task I have to complete.
    • Control Upsetting Thoughts: don’t focus on the negative. Talk to yourself how you would talk to a friend who was going through a rough time. Reshape your negative thoughts.  I dropped the cup. Accidents happen. No one was hurt. It’ll only take 5 minutes to clean up.
  2. Rose, Thorn, Bud – Focusing on positives makes life more positive; think of one item for each of the following:
    • Rose: something great
    • Thorn: something learned
    • Bud: act of kindness you witnessed or initiated
  3. Happiness is a habit, not an aspiration
    • Happiness is a state of mind, not something you achieve in the future if ______ happens. So start thinking happy.
    • You’re alive, you’re breathing, you just ate a delicious meal, you’re experiencing this miraculous moment of life.
  4. Feel the Fear, but Take Action
    • Feel the fear then learn what it can teach you.
    • Design a plan that will make the fear disappear, then follow through with an action.
  5. Establish a routine
    • Routines rewire your brain to build habits.
    • Habits create momentum and provide structure and feelings of control.
    • Habits reduce reliance on willpower (which I discussed is a finite amount here).
  6. What is your Most Important Thing (MIT) today?
    • Can be a baby step that only takes 15 minutes (or 30 minutes or 60 minutes, etc.).
    • Do that baby step first thing in the morning (before any other task). Completing one small task builds momentum to keep going.
  7. Identify the Important Things
    • Make a list of Quality vs Quantity: time, people, activities, etc.
    • Ask yourself what has to get done, what provides the best pay off for your time, what brings the most pleasure.
    • Then if you are overwhelmed and find you don’t have enough hours in the day, where can you cut back to fit in the important items?
    • If you’re unsure, spend a day (or a week) timing yourself at various activities. Write down each task on a sheet of paper (making the bed, brushing teeth, making breakfast, eating breakfast, etc.), write down how long you think it takes you, then time yourself doing each activity. The results are sometimes shocking.
  8. “Done is perfect.” – Donna Smallen
    • Don’t attempt to achieve perfection because you’ll (most likely) only remain disappointed.
    • Complete the task, accept the B+ or A- rating, and mark it off your list.
  9. Slow down your decision making
    • Extreme stress affects problem solving, impulse control, and emotional regulation.
    • During these times, slow down when making decisions.
  10. Take regular breaks
    • Take 20 minutes to eat lunch or a snack, take a short walk, or complete a yoga or breathing routine.
    • Set a timer if necessary: 40 minutes of work, 20 minute break
  11. Practice self-care
    • Exercise, mediate, eat healthily, utilize time off with non-work activities;
    • Devote time to a hobby that brings you happiness.
    • When you physically and mentally feel strong, your resilience will be strong.

What do you think? Which one do you think will work best for you and your life? Do you already utilize any of the above tips for dealing with daily life? I recommend picking 2-3 of your favorites (the ones that made you go, “ahh!”) and see how strong you can build your resilience.

One last fun trick: I loved Mel Robbins’s suggestion of counting backwards…5, 4, 3, 2, 1, MOVE. I do that occasionally in the morning when I know I need to get out of bed but I’m just not moving. Our brains link a countdown to an exciting event or a race, so when you count down, your brain expects something to happen. It’s a little umph to starting a project or physically getting you to move.

Good luck!


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