Why Is Determination Important? How to Strengthen Your Will

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Did you read the story of the Alabama college student who walked 20 miles to get to work? Walter Carr landed a new job at Bellhops moving company and was supposed to report to work by 8 a.m. Unfortunately, his car broke down, forcing him to begin his journey on foot at midnight. Along the way, police officers found him, treated him to breakfast and drove him to work.

The family Carr was moving that morning was impressed and made a Facebook post that went viral. This got the attention of Bellhops CEO Luke Marklin, who then gifted Carr a new 2014 Ford Escape. 

This is just one story that exemplifies the benefits of determination. But exactly why is determination important, and what can you do to improve and strengthen your overall will? Here’s what you need to know about the transformative powers of determination.

How to Define Determination

The Cambridge Dictionary defines determination as the ability to keep on doing something despite the high difficulty level. The American Psychological Association (APA) defines determination as a mental attitude that is run by a resilient commitment to achieve a goal no matter the adversities faced.

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The difference between success and failure is often a matter of perspective. Determination can look different in the lives of different people, largely depending on their motivation. Let’s look at three expressions of determination.

  • Self-discipline– Some people remain determined because they are committed to self-discipline. Self-discipline helps push you to accomplish a goal no matter how difficult or boring because you made a self-commitment to always finish your tasks. For example, if you’re self-disciplined, you remain committed to going to the gym five times a week like you’d decided in the beginning, compared to someone who’d keep it flexible depending on mood and weather.
  • Persisting through sorrow– Tough times don’t last, but tough people do. This is the mantra for people driven by the trough of sorrow. Instead of quitting when the goal seems unachievable, they push on.
  • Fail well– To some people, failure isn’t an option. Other determined people embrace failure. They have peace of mind in the midst of failure because they’re sure that they did their best.

What Is Self-Determination?

People are determined for different reasons. External factors, such as fear of people’s opinions (FOPO), may apply. This could mean that you’re only working to achieve a goal for society and not necessarily for yourself. Unfortunately, this means that you may hold yourself back and only remain focused on what seems right and acceptable. Some people only remain focused when there’s a reward such as money or an award if they attain the goal. Their determination changes if the prize is reduced or removed entirely.

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Conversely, internal factors drive self-determination. When you are self-determined, the sky’s the limit. You also have clear control over your life. The self-determination theory suggests that you are self-determined when your need for autonomy, connection and competence are aligned and achieved. You’re primarily driven by the need for growth.

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How Does Determination Help People?

Vince Lombardi said, “The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.” Evidently, determination begets success and requires focus and acceptance that you can either win or lose. The bottom line is that you did your best. But is that all that determination offers?

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Determination is important in all aspects of your life due to both the tangible and intangible benefits it offers. Let’s look at three of them.

  1. Determination is transformative– Remaining determined brings good change. For example, healthy eating can improve your health and improve your self-esteem and mood. One small action leads to an impressive ripple effect.
  2. Determination leads to progress- You keep moving forward when you’re determined. Louie Herron talks about never giving up in his book Driven by F.I.R.E.: Ignite the Flames of Success Through Faith, Intensity, Re-Invention, and Enthusiasm. He says, “Every great journey begins with one step and it begins with moving forward, turning on the engine, and shifting into the right gear at the right time. Remember, going through pain is temporary, and it will subside, but quitting, on the other hand, lasts forever.” Progress means that you’re somewhere better than you were yesterday. 
  3. Determination grows your creativity– Being determined means that you’ll find creative and innovative ways to overcome your hardships. It’s said that necessity is the mother of invention. Sometimes, these inventions are money-saving. For instance, if you’re running a project at work and the boss says it’s too expensive, don’t shelve the idea. Find cheaper ways to achieve the same goal. If possible, find ways that the same project can make money.
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How to Become More Determined

Determination requires mental effort. So, how do you take charge and strengthen your overall will?

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For starters, rather than listening to motivational speakers giving flowery stories without showing the path taken, read or listen to success stories that give actionable steps that will help improve your willpower. 

After learning from others, customize the journey and create your goals, dreams and paths to be taken, all suited for your situation. Define what success means for you. Consider your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Maximize your positives, and mitigate your negatives. Find a mentor who’ll walk the journey with you. Lastly, seek an accountability partner to keep you on track.

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