Grit and self-control – the prognostic of success

Grit and self-control – the prognostic of success

Is it hard for you to abstain from taking the last piece of chocolate in the box? Or from ordering another glass of wine? If the answer to questions like these is yes, then do not worry too much, you are like most people on the planet. But is it OK to fall prey to temptation? Read and find out why grit and self-control are the keys to success.


What characterizes us as a person? If someone would ask in a private conversation what are your three character features, what would you answer?

Often we hear that we are complex individuals, hard to summarize, hard to understand and complicated to explain. But if you take 10 minutes of your time to think about who you really are, you’ll see that you can describe yourself in three words. Intelligent, sociable and focused (three attributes that are seen as positive) vs hot-headed, loud and rude (3 negative ones). Insistent, persistent, friendly, kind, generous  the list can go on forever with the best and worst features that people may have. But have you ever wondered, in all the complexity of human traits, which is the most important character feature that can predict our success?

A study in New Zealand on 1000 patients who were followed from birth until they reach the age of 32 (these researchers are really dedicated to the profession, that’s for sure) showed that only one feature could predict success in life in terms of physical and mental health, addiction to drugs, personal finances and crime. This feature is a strength of character.

What is grit or strength of character? If you look in the dictionary, the definition is “The capacity to make decisions without hesitation”. That is, in free translation the judgment and self-control that we employ when we take a decision. This single feature was the best predictor of success on many levels.

There are certainly some biases in this study. It is important to note that children who had a capacity of greater self-control were more likely to be raised in good families, have a higher IQ and have socio-economic advantages. The researchers took into account these “prejudices” and below you can find the study results.


Self-control can save us in acute situations as well as in the long run


At age 32, patients were submitted to medical tests to assess their cardiovascular and respiratory functions, dental health, sexual health and inflammatory status (including weight). Meanwhile, patients had their mental state evaluated for any symptoms of depression and their addiction to various substances was assessed (tobacco, alcohol, cannabis and other drugs). Patients who demonstrated a decreased self-control in childhood were at increased risk for substance abuse (including those coming from a good socio-economic environment and that had a high IQ). In addition, the same group of patients with low self-control since childhood had an increased risk of developing alcoholism.


At age 32, patients who since childhood have shown low levels of self-control had done less financial planning. These individuals had acquired fewer goods until that age (homes, investments, retirement plans, etc.). The same individuals presented more financial difficulties and problems with loans from banks.


24% of all participants (regardless of group) up to the age of 32 were convicted by a court of law in New Zealand or Australia. Those in the group with less self-control were more likely to be convicted than those in the group with more self-control.


Strength of character and self-control includes the ability to make the right decisions at the right time. Self-control is a trait of our character to be nurtured, trained and developed starting from childhood. We need to act accordingly in every moment of our lives and we have to understand that any action we do in the present can influence our future decisions and consequences. It is very important to take the right decisions at the right time

A little planning and self-control are good for the future!

If you know someone who has issues with self-control, you can recommend them to read about how to develop your Emotional Intelligence and how to cultivate self-control in your personal and professional life.

The pharmacists,

The study:

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