Determination 101

The Cambridge English Dictionary defines determination as, the ability to continue trying to do something even if it is difficult (Cambridge English Dictionary, 2019).

Essentially, determination is our ability to stick with things despite the various challenges/hardships the situation may present.

It seems as though there as some people who have a strong total determinationsense of self-determination, while others struggle significantly in this area.

Does that mean that if you weren’t born with an innate sense of determination, you’re doomed for life?

Absolutely not!

Determination can also be cultivated, and this article outlines several tools to help with the cultivation of determination.

Set Goals

Setting goals is an important part of developing determination.

Goals give us something to work towards and that serves as a source of motivation.

As we set and meet our goals, we become encouraged by the progress we are making. This then gives us the additional drive to continue moving forward.

Setting goals should be SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Establishing goals that meet each of these criteria increases our likelihood of reaching our goals and makes the process of tracking goals a lot easier.

Establish A “Why”

An essential key to building and maintaining determination is establishing a “why.”

What does that mean?

Essentially, it is establishing a reason for what you are doing which will serve as motivation so you will continue working towards your goals. In his book, Man’s Search For Meaning, psychiatrist Dr. Viktor Frankl wrote about his experience surviving concentration camps during World War II.

In his book, he looked at the driving force behind why some men were able to survive the concentration camps and why others gave up and tried to take their own lives. He deciphered that the primary factor for survival was whether they had a reason (why) to survive.

Those who had a why, such as the belief that their family was waiting for them, seemed to develop superhuman ability to endure their circumstances in the midst of such horror (Frankl, 1985).

While most of us will not be in such dire situations, developing a “why” of our own helps us to navigate through challenges and obstacles we may face as we work towards certain goals.

Our personal “whys” will give us the strength to keep going when the going gets tough.

Believe in Yourself

There will undoubtedly be obstacles that arise during the pursuit of certain goals.

It can be easy to allow those obstacles to discourage you and make you doubt your own abilities and knowledge.

However, a key to sustaining determination is having a strong belief in yourself and your abilities.

Mistakes and mishaps should not be internalized and viewed as reflections of one’s self.

Rather, they should be used as learning opportunities that can be built upon as you pursue outlined goals.

Having a firm belief in yourself will allow you to be flexible and regroup. It can allow you to re-approach a situation when faced with challenges until the outlined goal has been accomplished.

Highlight Your Strengths

More often than not, we overemphasize our weaknesses and downplay our strengths.

While it is certainly valuable to know those areas where we need to improve, it is our current strengths that we can parlay to create future success. Knowing what you are good at allows you to best apply those strengths in situations and scenarios that will benefit most from them.

Thus, our strengths can serve as a spark that moves us forward and keeps us motivated.

Conquer Your Fears

There are a lot of unknowns in life and those unknowns can be scary if we focus on them too heavily.

Rather than looking at unknowns as potential opportunities for failure, we should see them as opportunities to learn more and mature.

Choosing to change our perception of challenges and the unknown better prepares us to face those situations with positivity which increases our chances of successfully navigating them.

Ultimately, determination is a mindset.

It is a conscious decision we make to persist in the midst of hardships and obstacles. By looking at the big picture and deciding that reaching the big goal is worth the effort.

We can create the motivation needed to keep moving forward, even if it is just one step at a time.


Cambridge English Dictionary. (n.d.). DETERMINATION | definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary. Retrieved from

Frankl, V. E. (1985). Man’s Search For Meaning. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

Mind Tools. (n.d.). SMART Goals: – How to Make Your Goals Achievable. Retrieved from

Sheffield, T. (2016, July 20). 11 Ways To Stay Motivated & Achieve Your Goals. Retrieved from

Sigl, C. (2017, September 28). 3 steps to developing a strong self-determination. Retrieved from

Determination is one of the things we need to be successful in life. Hopefully, using this article with the references will provide the background information to help you succeed.

To your continued success,


Rich Jablonski






P.S. You may want to use this platform to help achieve that success.

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