Persistent Waves

Persistent Waves: original photo

We know that people vary in their ability to choose successfully between conflicting desires and impulses. We also know that the road to success often requires self-discipline, or choosing long-term gain over short-term pleasure: resisting a decadent piece of cheesecake in the service of losing weight, enduring the hardship of homework in order to achieve good grades, spending hours in training in order to win an athletic championship, or passing up the unplanned purchases to stick to the household budget.

Research has shown that self-discipline is a crucial factor in predicting people’s future success. It forecasts who will be able to do what is required of them (and therefore achieve important goals) versus who will wander down the path of whatever pops into their head.

The adult version of self-discipline is called “grit” by researcher Angela Duckworth and her colleagues. It’s a way of thinking about persistence, or the sustained application of one’s efforts over time. However, the concept has an impulse control component to it, as well.

According to Duckworth, if a person is “gritty,” he or she is not thrown off course by disappointment, failure, adversity, boredom, or plateaus in progress. While an impulsive person might use these elements as an excuse to give up, the gritty individual chooses to keep working strenuously toward challenges.

Do you know people who exhibit grit or self-discipline in the way they approach their personal finances? How do they do it?