You might be under the illusion that financial success is all about smarts.
Nope. Think again.
You can be the smartest mathematical guru in the world and find yourself broke.
Why is this?
Don’t all the smart people get the best-paying jobs and a Lamborghini or two?
Isn’t it the smart people who can shrug their shoulders at briefcases full of cash because their portfolios are too big for the hassle of making the deposit?
Well, not exactly.
I’ll let you in on a little secret.
You know what the secret sauce is to financial success?
It’s grit, and I’m going to show you how to get it.
What’s Grit Anyway?
Look it up in the dictionary and you’ll find words like courage, resolve, strength, and character.
I don’t know about you, but when I hear that someone has grit, I picture a tough, rough war hero pressing forward despite unspeakable odds.
I picture a weathered sailor in the perfect storm riding the crest of a 100-foot wave destined for glory. I picture someone who doesn’t stop even in the face of danger or failure. I picture a Soldier of Finance. 😉
That’s grit, my friends.
The Importance of Grit
The interesting thing about grit is that it’s actually one of the most important qualities to have in academics. Smarts only takes you so far – grit takes you beyond the limits of your mental abilities.
In an article by Emily Hanford, writing of Angela Duckworth and the research on grit, she writes:
In one study, Duckworth found that smarter students actually had less grit than their peers who scored lower on an intelligence test. This finding suggests that, among the study participants — all students at an Ivy League school — people who are not as bright as their peers “compensate by working harder and with more determination.” And their effort pays off: The grittiest students — not the smartest ones — had the highest GPAs.
Hard work. Determination. These are ideals that have proven themselves to be valuable over and over again.
If you want to do anything notable in life, it’s probably going to require some grit.
Tenacity is highly valuable. And when it comes to finances, you’re going to need a huge helping of it.
Financial Success and Grit
I believe there is a strong correlation between financial success and grit. Let me explain.
Americans are up to their eyeballs in debt. You should hear some of the stories I hear on a regular basis. While many of my clients come into my office to talk about their investments, inevitably we get on the subject of debt – which genuinely needs to be addressed as part of their overall financial strategy.
Student loans, credit cards, mortgages, business loans – every piece of debt my clients hold is a liability that takes away from their ability to invest and make money on their money. Many times, debt becomes an overwhelming burden in the lives of my clients, and they can’t see a way out.
The problem with debt is that while it’s pretty easy to learn how to get out of it, doing so is another matter altogether. It takes well-estabilished grit to sacrifice the majority of discretionary expenses and put in the extra hours at work to have enough money to make a real dent in the problem of debt.
Whether you’re trying to overcome burdensome debt, find a suitable career, or develop a well-balanced investment portfolio, you’re going to need some serious grit.
The truth is financial success requires a deep commitment to a set of ideals not just at the beginning of the journey, but over the long haul through everything that life throws in one’s path.
How to Grab Some Financial Grit
How do you develop grit in your financial life? I have a few suggestions . . . .
1. Work up to larger goals.
If you want to develop some financial grit you can’t start out by tackling nearly impossible goals. If you do, failure will stomp on your dreams and you might slip into inaction.
Instead, start on a few small, attainable financial goals. For example, you might begin by creating a budget that actually works. Don’t try to become an overnight millionaire, start wherever you’re at on your financial journey.
Over time, once you have the foundational pieces of financial planning in place, you can work up to learning how to invest with confidence or start your own business.
2. Decide who you’re going to become.
If you feel you’re timid and don’t take many risks, it’s time to change how you view yourself. If you tell yourself day after day that you’re a nobody and you’re not going to amount to anything, well, you’ll probably fulfill your own prophecy.
Decide who you’re going to become. Who do you want to be? If you could start fresh, what would you do?
Never let who you’ve been determine who you become. Do you think I was born with my own business and a career I love? No way! I had to fight to get to where I am today. The good news is you can do the same.
3. Practice getting back up after failures.
If you can learn to get back up after failures, you’ll find some grit.
Failure is often found on the path to success.
Theodore Roosevelt once said:
Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure . . . than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.
Don’t be afraid of failure! It will happen. Develop some grit by pressing on.
4. Develop a strong support system.
Sometimes the only way you can get through a difficult situation is with the help of others. Your grit coupled with the strength and wisdom of others might just be the recipe to get you through rough times.
That’s why I highly recommend developing a strong support system. Regardless of how much grit you can muster up, there will be occasions you’re going to need to rely on a friend or loved one.
When you do, you’ll realize that not only can others help you get through a difficult financial situation like going through a costly divorce, enduring a stock market crash, or watching your business dissolve into nothing, but people can encourage you to get gritty and march forward.
Financial grit will help you find a great deal of financial success. Remember, it’s not about smarts, it’s about how determined you are to reach your goals and stick with the plan even when trials and tribulations come your way.
Go with grit!
You made some really valid points in this post. A lot of people think financial success is all about numbers and would rather give up too soon.
Grit is a trait that can help us in a lot of circumstances in life, including building up our financial life. I especially like your point about a support system. Often, our own trait of grit might want to take a break and having a support system to lean on and one that boosts us really helps to keep on the right path.
It all starts with who you want to be. Taking baby steps and working on little goals to the point where you are ready to tackle on that large goal. As always I enjoyed reading your posts, and you give excellent advice on finding your financial debt.
Until this past year, we hadn’t really thought or talked about who we wanted to be as people in terms of finances. It wasn’t until we sat down and discussed it that we realized we weren’t heading down a path that aligned with our ideals. We are fortunate that in our mid-20’s, we have started working on a financial plan to get us to where we want to be in our 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and beyond. There are so many people who aren’t intentional about focusing on their finances and consequently find themselves becoming someone they aren’t happy with or feel as though they have no control.
For me it was deciding who I’m going to become. Starting with $206k in student loan debt, I’m now down to $130k and I’m determined to payoff my debt over the next couple of years through my online businesses. That decision changed my day-job choices and lead me to a more balanced job in terms of hours to give me that time to be online. The commitment is unprecedented once you’ve decided. It’s very powerful.