How do you want to feel at the end of this year?
Or totally burned out…
As you enter a busy season where you’re juggling deadlines, holidays, traveling, and more, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and want to quit before you’re done unless you tap into something deeper.
The internal drive to keep going (especially when it’s hard) has been labeled many things: Willpower, Grit, Perseverance, Self-Discipline, Resilience, Hard Work and Elbow Grease…
This month we’re refocusing on the value Perseverance and sharing some practical tips from neuroscience and leadership to keep your energy high and attitude positive!
Train Your Brain
Did you know that your brain has the ability to change as you learn something new? Research in neuroplasticity has shown how the neural pathways in your brain actually change based on your experience, developing new networks and connections, while strengthening existing ones. So when you stuck with something that’s hard, overcome, and learn, you’re actually training your brain and forming positive habits for life!
Scientists have linked one’s ability to persevere and form good habits to higher levels of dopamine – a hormone and a neurotransmitter that regulates pleasure and drives us to make plans, focus and learn, and strive to accomplish our goals. When we experience a rush of dopamine, our motivation spikes and we feel alive!
Through his studies on athletes, Psychologist Christopher Bergland learned that low levels of dopamine make you apathetic. If you do not accomplish something every day, your dopamine reserves will decrease. “Humans are designed to work hard and to be rewarded for their efforts biologically,” shares Bergland in this Psychology Today article. “Being uninspired and lacking self-motivation is a downward spiral that can snowball out of control. It’s so easy to become bitter, cynical, and hopeless when your dopamine reserves are low.”
Dopamine production is a proactive process that you can actually influence. When you choose to change your attitude and behavior, you have the power to increase your production of dopamine. If you are feeling discouraged or frustrated by a situation that feels hopeless, a shift in mindset can help you access alternatives and refuel your brain with the dopamine it needs to feel motivated.
But how can you shift your mindset – especially when you feel struck, frustrated, lost, or defeated?
Shift Your Mindset
“Just choose another perspective”
“There are two sides to every story”
“Why don’t you walk a mile in my shoes…”
All of these sayings exist because there is not just one way to look at a situation, even if we feel like there really is one “right” way (or have been told that by a very determined person).
If you’ve ever watched a young child try to put puzzle pieces together, you’ve likely noticed their curiosity combined with confidence to make the pieces fit. And if they can’t find the right piece that fits, what happens then? Overwhelming resilience or frustrated tears?
When studying motivation and achievement in students, Stanford Psychologist, Carol Dweck, and her research team noticed that some students rebounded while other students seemed devastated by even the smallest setbacks. After studying the behavior of thousands of children, they identified two mindsets that describe the underlying beliefs people have about learning and intelligence.
In Dweck’s bestselling book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, she explains the difference between those who have adopted a “Fixed Mindset” and do not believe they have the ability to grow or change, with those that have adopted a “Growth Mindset” and look at intelligence as something they can develop.
In her research, students with a Fixed Mindset assumed that failure meant they weren’t smart and couldn’t learn, so they stopped trying. In contrast, students with a Growth Mindset believed they could learn and grow and understood that effort makes them stronger and leads to higher achievement.
Choosing a Growth Mindset leads to higher levels of perseverance and resilience throughout your life. Curious about your mindset? You can take this free online assessment in less than 10 minutes to learn more!
Just Add Grit
Do you ever meet people who seem to be able to do it all? You know, the ones who seemingly never break a sweat while they’re breaking records and still have margin left over to do fun things? You may be jealous of them, or just watch with awe and appreciation, always wondering “what’s their secret?”
The truth about these people is that they hustle hard to get stuff done (and that DOES involve lots of sweat, even if it’s not documented on Instagram)! They are fueled a mission bigger than themselves (even if he’s only four years old and not even four feet tall!) and won’t stop until it’s done. They enlist others to support their cause and know how to create a movement with their passion. And they don’t care about accolades along the way.
Psychologist and author, Angela Duckworth, defines this driving quality as GRIT: passion and sustained persistence applied toward long-term achievement with no particular concern for rewards or recognition along the way. It’s internally driven and combines resilience, ambition, and self-control in the pursuit of goals that may take months, years, or even decades.
What Keeps You Going?
Science has shown us how you can enhance your brain by the habits you cultivate and by choosing a Growth Mindset. But without grit, perseverance is largely externally motivated and you will burnout if you are not driven by a bigger purpose.
Take a moment to turn inward and listen to what you’re really craving right now and what’s fueling your desire. Maybe it’s the friends you have, the coffee you drink, the purpose behind your work, or a family to support and love. Or maybe these things are actually getting in your way.
What’s your life calling you to do?
Why haven’t you started yet?
Why haven’t you already quit?
What’s NOW for you?
Start here. Keep Going. Let us cheer you on!!
Be the Revolution,