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OWSD NIgeria National Chapter presents Grit and Well-being; Balancing Ambition with Self-Care in Career and research Pathway Fostering grit while prioritizing well-being

August 31, 2023

OWSD Nigeria National Chapter University of PortHarcourt Branch Series of Scientific Comm.:Stella Eteng-Uket on Grit and Well-being; Balancing Ambition with Self-Care in Career and Research

Grit and Well-being; Balancing Ambition with Self-Care in Career and Research Pathway 

Fostering grit while prioritizing well-being




Stella Eteng-Uket


I. Introduction

In the pursuit of success and satisfaction in both career and research endeavors, the concepts of grit and well-being play crucial roles. Grit is a personality trait that refers to individual's ability to maintain sustained effort and interest in accomplishing long-term objectives despite facing challenges, setbacks, or obstacles. It is that is characterized by passion, perseverance, and a never-give-up attitude towards long-term goals. Grit is the tendency to pursue long-term goals with steadfast dedication (Duckworth, Peterson, Matthews, & Kelly, 2007). Gritty people are typically very focused on their goals, and they are willing to put in the hard work and effort necessary to achieve them even in the face of challenges.

Grit is characterized by the following attributes relevant to career and research pursuits:

Perseverance: The ability to stay focused and dedicated to long-term goals, even when faced with setbacks or failures in the career or research journey.

Passion: A deep and enduring enthusiasm for a chosen career or research field, which provides the motivation to persistently work towards success.

Resilience: The capacity to bounce back from challenges and adversities, learning from failures and using them as stepping stones towards growth.

Determination: A strong sense of purpose and commitment to overcome obstacles and achieve desired outcomes in the face of difficulties.

Well-being is a state of overall physical and mental health and happiness. Well-being has been defined as the combination of feeling good and functioning well; the experience of positive emotions such as happiness and contentment as well as the development of one’s potential, having some control over one’s life, having a sense of purpose, and experiencing positive relationships Huppert (2009). It is a sustainable condition that allows the individual to develop and thrive. Ruggeri et al (2020)-It is an optimal and dynamic state that allows people to achieve their full potential.

Well-being, as a state encompasses an individual's physical, mental, emotional, and social health. It is multidimensional, with each dimension interconnected, it encompasses the following dimensions.

Mental well-being: Refers to a state of psychological health, including positive emotions, a sense of purpose, and effective coping strategies to deal with stress and challenges.

Physical well-being: Involves the overall physical health, fitness, and vitality of an individual, which impacts their ability to perform optimally in career and research pursuits.

Emotional well-being: It refers on understanding and managing one's emotions in a healthy manner, as well as healthy relationships with others.

Social well-being: It relates to the quality of an individual's social connections, support networks, and sense of belonging, which can influence their motivation and engagement in career and research activities.

Well-being is important for success in both career and research because it allows one to function at ones best. When one has an optimal state of well-being, one is more likely to be productive, creative, and resilient in the face of challenges.

2.  The Science of Grit and Wellbeing: Research Findings and Applications

Both grit and well-being are essential for achieving success in career, research and other life endeavors. Well-being has been linked to success at professional, personal, and interpersonal levels, with those individuals high in well-being exhibiting greater productivity in the workplace, more effective learning, increased creativity, more prosocial behaviors, and positive relationships (Diener 2012; Huppert & So 2013; Oisi, Diener & Lucas 2007; Huppert 2009)

Grit as a personality has been shown to be a significant predictor of success in a variety of domains, including career and research. Research has shown that high grit predicts success in various situations, such as greater likelihood of having lifelong academic achievement (e.g., higher degrees; Duckworth et al. 2007); for new teachers, effectively managing their first placement at a school and better teaching performance (Duckworth et al. 2009); practicing and excelling at spelling bees (Duckworthet al. 2010); following through with tough military training (Duckworth et al. 2007;Eskreis-Winkler et al. 2014); remaining married (Eskreis-Winkler et al. 2014);  continuing with an exercise routine (Reed et al. 2013). It has been found that grit is associated with academic productivity and engagement (Hodge et al., 2017); academic motivation (Eskreis-Winkler et al., 2014); in challenging tasks (Lucas et al., 2015); the pursuit and attainment of postgraduate training (Palisoc et al., 2017). Grit has been shown to predict success over and above the effects of IQ (Duckworth et al. 2007).

Studies have indicated a strong association between grit and several aspects and factors of well-being, suggesting that individuals with high levels of grit have an increased likelihood of achieving higher levels of well-being (Chatthurika et al. 2018; Muenks et al., 2017; Goodman et al, 2018; Sharkey et al., 2017; Kannangara et al., 2018; Vaino & Daukantait 2015).

Essentially, individuals who are gritty have higher academic performance, they are also more likely to have successful careers. That is, they are more likely to demonstrate greater job satisfaction, career progression, and overall professional achievements as they are more likely to set ambitious career goals, work diligently to achieve them, and adapt positively to workplace challenges.

Similarly, researchers who exhibit grit are more likely to persevere through the often arduous and uncertain process of conducting research. This resilience allows them to overcome experimental failures and setbacks, leading to more significant breakthroughs and contributions to their respective fields. They are more inclined to take risks and explore unconventional ideas.


3. The interplay between grit and well-being in Career and research

Both grit and well-being are essential for achieving success in career and research endeavors. They are interconnected and can complement each other in the following ways:

Grit enhancing well-being: The pursuit of long-term goals with passion and perseverance can provide a sense of purpose and accomplishment, positively impacting an individual's mental and emotional well-being.

Well-being supporting grit: A high level of well-being, including emotional resilience and social support, can act as a buffer against stress and burnout, enabling individuals to maintain their grit in challenging times.

Positive feedback loop: As individuals experience progress in their career and research goals due to their grit, it can contribute to increased well-being, which, in turn, fuels further grit and motivation. That is grit provides the determination and resilience needed to overcome obstacles and persistently work towards goals. Well-being ensures that individuals are emotionally and physically equipped to tackle challenges and maintain their focus on long-term objectives.

Grit and well-being contribute to long-term success: The combination of grit's perseverance and passion, along with well-being's positive emotional state and physical health, sets the foundation for sustained success and satisfaction in both career and research pursuits.

Greater life satisfaction: Individuals who possess grit and experience higher levels of well-being are more likely to experience a sense of fulfillment and contentment with their achievements and progress.

4. Strategies for Fostering Grit in Career and Research Pathway

There are a number of strategies that can be used to foster grit in career and research pathway. Some of these strategies include:

Developing Passion and Interest: Grit is closely related to an individual's passion and interest in their chosen field. Individuals who have a genuine interest and enthusiasm for their career or research area are more likely to develop and maintain grit. Passion serves as the driving force that sustains effort and commitment over time.

Setting Specific and clear Goals: Having clear, well-defined goals is essential for developing grit. When individuals have a specific vision of what they want to achieve in their careers or research endeavors, they can channel their efforts and persistently work towards these objectives. Commitment to these goals, even in the face of challenges, is a crucial factor in fostering grit.

Growth Mindset: A growth mindset, the belief that abilities and skills can be developed through effort and learning, is closely linked to grit. Individuals with a growth mindset are more likely to view failures and setbacks as opportunities for learning and improvement, rather than as indicators of inherent limitations.

Resilience and Coping Skills: Resilience, the ability to bounce back from adversity, is a foundational aspect of grit. Building effective coping skills and a positive outlook in the face of setbacks helps individuals maintain their motivation and determination throughout their career and research journeys.


5. The Ambition Drive and Trap: Challenges Faced in Career and Research

The Drive for Excellence: Career and research pursuits are often driven by a desire for excellence and significant accomplishments. The ambitious nature of these goals can lead individuals to dedicate extensive time and effort to their work, sometimes at the expense of well-being and self-care.

Workload and Stress: Heavy workloads, long working hours, multiple responsibilities, deadlines, and demanding schedules can be challenging and can lead to increased stress, potentially leading to burnout and impacting overall well-being and decreasing grit.

Financial Pressures: Early-career professionals and researchers may face financial constraints, including limited funding opportunities. Low salaries can also impact negatively career drives and research options.

Rejection and Uncertainty: In research, facing rejection in publications or grant applications and dealing with uncertainty in outcomes can impact an individual's confidence and perseverance.

Imposter Syndrome and Self-doubt: Ambitious individuals may experience imposter syndrome, doubting their abilities and feeling undeserving of their achievements, leading to self-doubt and anxiety.

Competitive Environment: Both career and research fields can be highly competitive, creating pressure to outperform peers and secure opportunities.


6.  Achieving Balance: Aligning Ambitious Career and Research drives with Grit and Well-being (Self-Care).

Balancing ambition and self-care is crucial for individuals seeking success in their careers and research endeavors while maintaining their overall well-being. The pursuit of ambitious goals can be invigorating, but it can also lead to burnout and compromised health if self-care is neglected. The following are some strategies for achieving this balance:

Prioritizing Self-Care

Self-care is a crucial aspect of maintaining overall well-being, especially in the demanding and often stressful environments of both career and research pursuits. It is the self-initiated behavior that people choose to incorporate to promote good health and general well-being (Sherman 2004). It includes the following areas

Physical Self-Care. This involves engaging in activities like regular exercise, having adequate Rest and Sleep; establishing consistent sleep patterns and creating a conducive sleep environment. Eating nutritious and healthy meals and Hydration and staying hydrated

Mental and Emotional Self-Care; This includes practices like recognizing and accepting personal limitations and imperfections, avoiding self-criticism and promoting self-kindness using positive affirmations to cultivate self-compassion

Social Self-Care; This includes such practices like building and maintaining relationships, cultivating social connections, nurturing meaningful connections with colleagues, friends, and family, allocating time for social activities and interactions

Establishing Boundaries: Establishing clear boundaries between work and personal life helps to maintain a healthy work-life balance

Setting Realistic Goals: Establish ambitious yet achievable career and research goals that align with values and well-being. Avoid setting goals solely based on external expectations or comparisons to others can also sustain grit and enhance well-being.

Breaking Goals into Milestones: Dividing long-term ambitions into smaller, manageable milestones helps in achieving career and research goals more easily.

[[Acknowledging Achievements: Celebrating successes, no matter how small, significantly boost motivation and build confidence this invariably boost grits and wellbeing.

Seeking Professional Help: Seeking professional help through counseling or medical care to address overwhelming challenges enhances well being

Defining Personal Priorities: Understanding core values and priorities beyond career and research ambitions impacts on well-being. Reflecting on what brings joy and fulfillment outside of work, such as spending time with loved ones, pursuing hobbies, or engaging in leisure activities. Improves well being

Practicing Effective Time Management Technique: Effectively managing time to strike a balance between work, personal life, and self-care activities is an important strategy. Setting boundaries to prevent work from encroaching on personal time sustains grit and builds over all well-being.

Delegate and Cultivate a Supportive Environment: Delegating tasks, when possible, both in career and research responsibilities impacts positively on grit and well-being. Also, seeking support from colleagues, mentors, or family members to ease the burden and reduce stress is another helpful strategy.

Learning to Say No: Being selective about taking on additional commitments and saying no to excessive demands that might hinder self-care is essential for maintaining balance.

Adopting a Growth Mindset: Viewing failures as learning experiences can strengthen resilience and drive for both career and self-care goals. Also investing in continuous learning and skill development to overcome obstacles helps in maintain balance.

Creating a Holistic Vision: Developing a vision for career and research that includes not only professional achievements but also personal well-being and growth helps in maintaining balance.

Conducting Regular Self-Assessment: Periodically evaluating goals and progress to ensure they align with values and well-being helps in maintain the balance between ambition, grit and well-being.

Practicing Flexibility and Adaptability: Embrace the idea that balance may fluctuate over time is important. Understanding that some periods might be more career-focused, while others might require more attention to self-care and personal well-being helps in maintain balance.

7. Conclusion

Achieving balance between ambition, grit and wellbeing involves understanding that they are not mutually exclusive but are complementary. By integrating these strategies into ambitious career and research pathways, one can strike a balance that promotes both professional success and at the same time foster both grit and well-being.


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Dr. Stella Eteng-Uket

Department of Educational Psychology, Guidance and Counselling, University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria (ORCID: 0000-0001-7042-4894)

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