A friend of mine was struggling with exhaustion. After a long streak of consistent exercise, she’d suddenly lost motivation. She didn’t feel like waking up early or pushing herself to do a workout. She craved rest, but felt guilty about it.
She called me to ask an interesting question. “How do I discern whether I need grit or grace?”
There will be times in life when you need grit to push through and actually do what you need to do to accomplish your goals. Maybe you’ve been making too many excuses or you’re stuck in your limiting beliefs. You know it’s time to take action even if you don’t “feel” like it. This is that moment when your actions have to come before your motivation.
But there will also be moments when all you’re doing is checking off boxes and working harder and longer in the name of being productive. You may realize that you’re not realizing the benefit that was intended from the actions you’re taking.
I see this often with high achievers. They do the things: healthy eating, exercise, and meditation. They show up for their jobs and their families and get it all done. But somewhere along the way, they stop feeling good. They’re not energized or feeling vibrant. They feel just as depleted as those who aren’t doing these things.
So we go back to the original question: “How do you discern if you need grit or grace?” And the answer is, you listen.
Listen to what your mind, body, and soul is telling you.
Ask yourself these questions and pay close attention to the answers:
- Is this something you think you’re supposed to do, or something you desire to do?
- Is the thing you’re doing resulting in its intended benefit or the opposite? (Exercise is a great example of this. Exercise is intended to make you feel better, stay fit, and energize you. But sometimes it stops having that effect and you need to prioritize sleep more or change the exercise to change the results. You may not need to push harder, but instead, give yourself permission to slow down and assess what’s going on.
- What would happen if you didn’t accomplish the goal?
- What would happen if you did accomplish the goal?
- Is there a deadline associated with the goal?
The truth is that in life you need both — grit and grace. The trick is deciding which one you need more as you determine your next right step. Just remember that you don’t have to tread an endless hamster wheel in the name of grit, and you don’t have to carry exhaustion as a badge of honor.
You get to be passionate and perseverant as well as patient and forgiving. It’s not all or nothing.
I’ll leave you with this final quote: “As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
P.S. Tune into our last Connect with Caro Expert Interview, where Dr. Marcelo Pereyra and I discussed this very topic (minute 32:53).