Grit and the Need for Achievement

need for achievement

We humans have many needs. Our most commonly recognized needs include food, water, sleep, shelter, and comfort to survive, but we also crave a lot more than that out of life.

Aside from our basic needs for survival, we also have many psychological needs. These include needs such as confidence, meaning, and love. These things aren’t necessary to live, but they are often necessary to be happy and enjoy life.

One often overlooked need we share is a “need for achievement” – this is our desire for significant accomplishment, mastering of skills, or achievement of high expectations.

We don’t have to be good at everything to be happy, but we usually like to be good at something. We all crave a type of passion, skill, or talent that we can excel at and rise above the norm. It helps us define ourselves as individuals.

A healthy need for achievement isn’t about becoming better than others, it’s about becoming better than your previous self. It’s about identifying a goal you want to reach in life and being willing to put in the necessary steps to make it happen.

Closely related to this need for achievement comes the incredibly important psychological trait known as grit.

Grit is best defined as a personality trait with two key components:

    1) A passion for long-term goals

    2) The powerful motivation to achieve these goals through the necessary work, practice, and time.

Psychologists are just beginning to study the benefits of grit and how it leads to long-term success and achievement. In a recent study, researchers suggest that grit may even be a stronger predictor of success than intelligence or talent.

Lack of grit is the reason why incredibly talented people sometimes never reach success. Because no matter how smart or talented you are, you still need to put in the work and have the resilience to overcome obstacles and continue marching forward when things get tough.

At the end of the day, if you can’t stay committed to your goals, your intelligence and talent mean nothing.

This a great quote that I find summarizes what “grit” really means:

“Sometimes, magic is just someone spending more time on something than anyone else might reasonably expect.”


When you put in more time and work into a goal than the average person, your bound to achieve great and seemingly “magical” things – even when the odds seem stacked against you.

And if you have a healthy need for achievement, then this grit comes more naturally to you. But you need to be able to feel that desire to achieve and want to satisfy it. That hunger for achievement is ultimately what leads to long-term motivation and success.

Also, the need for achievement isn’t just about wanting success, it provides a deep sense of meaning too. We often identify ourselves a lot with the work we do and the things we accomplish throughout our lives.

Our goals give us a reason to wake up in the morning, and our achievements often provide us with self-worth and pride.

In fact, a recent study found that grit can indirectly reduce suicidal thoughts, because grit is often accompanied with a strong sense of meaning and purpose in our lives. It’s well-known that finding meaning in life can be a great source of happiness and well-being – grit plays some role in this search for meaning.

The need for achievement is the need for long-term goals and purpose – something in life more than just survival. It’s the desire to be good at something that we really care about.

How can I fulfill my need for achievement?

The best way to start fulfilling your need for achievement is to start finding small things you can accomplish that really matter to you.

You don’t need to plan to take over the world or win the Nobel Peace Prize, you just need to identify a hobby or passion of yours and make it a point to improve yourself and achieve something positive with it.

Here are helpful suggestions:

  • Identify one thing you’re passionate about – Often the more passion you have for an activity, the stronger your need for achievement. Maybe it’s making music, or writing short stories, or playing a sport.
  • Find the smallest action you can do – Try to find something small you can do today to make your passion more of a tangible reality. Don’t just think about it, find ways to take action.
  • Dedicate a little time each week – You don’t need to turn your passion into a career, just schedule a little bit of free time each week that you can dedicate toward your personal goals.
  • Recognize your small victories – As you pursue your goals and passions, make sure you notice the small ways you have improved and the little things you’ve achieved along the way.

  • Keep building off what works – Stick with your passions and keep improving them into the future. The more time you dedicate to something, the more you will have accomplished.

  • Feel good about yourself – The whole point of satisfying your need for achievement is to feel good about yourself. Make sure you give yourself time to be proud of whatever it is you achieve.

When we achieve anything in life, however big or small, we often feel much more confident and happy for ourselves. Are you fulfilling your need for achievement?

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