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  • Writer's pictureReflective Resources

D is for Deliberately Developing Determination

Updated: Jun 19, 2022

We need to be determined to accomplish a wide range of goals and objectives and being determined is a worthwhile quality in itself.

Determination can be described as a firmness of purpose or resoluteness. ‘Being determined’ means you are aiming towards a firm or goal and you don’t waver in your pursuit of achieving it.

Determination gives you hope. If you focus on the potential benefits ahead and believe that your hard work will pay off, then your determination can be a motivating force to help you reach your end goal.

“Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.” Laini Taylor

Determination encourages creativity as you come up with creative solutions to complex problems.

Determination requires action not just intention. When you want something bad enough, you are willing to go the extra mile to achieve it and you are aware that you must take time and make an effort to achieve something worthwhile.

Both optimists and pessimists contribute to society. The optimist invents the airplane the pessimist invents the parachute.” George Bernard Shaw

Anyone can be determined, both optimists who can already envisage their goal and pessimists who like to try and prove their negative thoughts that the situation is hopeless or can’t be achieved wrong but will keep trying anyway and work to the best of their abilities. Determination helps you beat the odds. It gives you the drive to push ahead and do better. Instead of giving up, determination encourages you to stay focused and driven. Determination is about sustained, consistent effort toward a goal even when we struggle.

Humans are creatures of habit. If you quit when things get tough, it gets that much easier to quit the next time. On the other hand, if you force yourself to push through it, the grit begins to grow in you.” Travis Bradberry

Determination is linked in with character. When we are determined or demonstrate ‘grit’ it is because we are exhibiting or have had the resilience to push ourselves over, through, around, and sometimes under obstacles.

According to the American Psychological Association, Resilience is “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors.”

Resilience is basically about our ability to bounce back after we have struggled, faltered, or encountered setbacks. It is about optimism and hope and is concerned with our ability to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, take a moment or two to gather our thoughts, and then get back to the business of pursuing the task in hand.

Some people are more resilient than others, but like determination it is a characteristic that someone can develop. Determination is the engine that moves us toward our goal. Resilience is the oil that keeps the engine moving.

Grit is the tendency to sustain interest in, and effort toward, very long-term goals

Angela Duckworth

Can people learn to be determined?

According to Angela Duckworth’s research, one’s level of determination is a question of nature and nurture, not one or the other. People are born with various levels of determination or ‘grit’, but it is a trait that develops through experience and changing from a fixed to a growth mindset.

In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” Carol Dweck

Determination is usually linked to specific goals. Because is about an intense desire for a particular thing, people can demonstrate determination in one area of their lives, but not in others. E.g. you can be determined to complete a task that you find relevant personally but can lack the same level of application when doing a task that you are not passionate about e.g. filling in a tax form or completing other bureaucracy!

How can we increase our determination?

Practice Kaizen and set small, achievable goals. You cannot accomplish your goals all at once so break down what you want to achieve into smaller steps that you can take today and build on tomorrow. This will make your goals seem more accessible and help you create a plan for success.

Believe that the future is in your control. The actions and decisions of others do have an effect on you, but by believing that the future is in your control and taking steps to limit the impact of forces you cannot control you will have more control of the outcome. We can't always control our circumstances but we do have the ability to ‘co-author’ our life journey.

Focus on a positive future outcome not temporary setbacks on your journey or have a victim mentality. Being determined does not mean that things will always come easily, but by having the right frame of mind it will make it easier to complete difficult tasks.

Effort is one of those things that gives meaning to life. Effort means you care about something, that something is important to you and you are willing to work for it”. Carol S Dweck

Prioritise reaching your own personal goals regardless of what others think. Determination varies from person-to-person and is influenced by one’s culture. People also have different levels of determination towards different things. Some people exhibit a determined character in the workplace, while others channel their determination into their personal lives.

An exercise often used with children is the “Grit Pie” exercise but it is just as relevant with adults. The pie is the problem. Each slice is a possible cause. The child is asked to determine if the cause is permanent, temporary and whether they blame themselves or someone else. Often, the child will identify the problems as temporary and then you can help them see how they can gain control by making some changes.

Determination, resilience, and growth mindset are intertwined. Although some believe these traits are innate, others, like Carol Dweck and Angela Duckworth, believe they can be developed. In order to do so you need to make time, have patience and pay attention.

Some questions to think about/or discuss below:

What tasks do you find easier or harder to persevere with?

Are you clear on your own personal goals?

Do you focus positively on the present task or your setbacks and a far off goal?

If you want to reflect more on this subject, here are a few links to get you started:

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1 Comment

Feb 07, 2021

I'm finding it hard to persevere with eating healthily at the moment. I think it's because it's cold and the uncertainty of covid and the restrictions.

I do focus positively with a task but I can sometimes get frustrated and negative if things aren't going well. I usually take a break and then continue to finish the task in hand.

I've been called "stubborn and "determined" many times lol, but I think those traits have helped me through some difficult times!

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