Determination has many names: ambition, perseverance, tenacity, discipline, imperturbability, willpower, volition … Behind all of it lies the ability to set your goals, to pursue them consistently and to achieve them. If you have no goals, you cannot achieve anything. Setting goals make success possible. They are the core of the determination, they give orientation on the way and help you focus. “I know what I want.” – This sentence is extremely important, regardless of what goals you pursue. It is crucial that we have goals and live with purpose.
Determination: Those who have goals live longer
Determination or “being determined” is the conscious striving towards a goal. Those who are determined direct their thinking in a certain way, they act and feel over a longer period of time – focused – completely on their goal. Determination always begins with the question: What do I really want? We can undertake a lot and yet achieve nothing as long as there are only vague ideas or pious wishes. Goals are not just to-dos or dreams.
- Goals are not visions, but firm intentions.
- Goals are not a spontaneous thought, but a concrete striving.
- Goals do not meet expectations, they are a matter of conviction.
- Goals are not based on rational knowledge alone, but are above all felt deeply in your heart.
And they prolong life. This finding is based on a Canadian study. Carleton University psychologist Patrick Hill found that determined people live healthier and longer lives, pay more attention to their fitness, and are happier and more satisfied with their lives.
Why is setting goals so important?
Determination is essential for success – whether privately or in professional life. If you don’t strive for anything, you can’t achieve anything. But without a fixed goal in mind, we can never arrive or measure how close we are to achieving something. Not even a course can be determined without a goal – and this is precisely what is so important when we get caught in a storm. From this we can conclude:
- Goals give us orientation.
- Goals define our success.
- Goals are both an incentive and an engine.
- Achieving goals makes you happy.
- Goals increase self-confidence .
Finding determination is therefore an essential for achieving any success.
Is determination innate?
Determination is one of the so-called soft skills. This makes it an interdisciplinary competence that is reflected in a person’s personality and behavior. There are indeed people who were born with this quality and who find it easier to stick with it or to be determined.
Determination can also be learned. The will exists in every human being. Therefore, an essential step towards more determination is not to step fully on the gas, but to eliminate brakes. That means: Identify the factors that prevent you from pursuing and achieving your goals. Find sources of interference that are distracting you – and eliminate them first.
You have to find your own goals
To find and practice determination, you must first find your own goals. However, these must be your OWN goals – the goals you recognized. Not those of your parents, family, partners, friends, colleagues … but your personal goals.
Those who only try to meet the expectations of others are only living the lives of others or for others – not their own. In fact, if you are striving towards goals set by others for you, you are only giving the lead over your life and leaving the route meant for you. Others then determine what your success is. And that is sheer madness.
Even more: In order to overcome resistance and setbacks (both are guaranteed), you need a strong inner strength, a personal drive. But we only gain it from life goals that we ourselves pursue and want to achieve. Otherwise we will run out of stamina and lack the necessary motivation. Not because we are doing too little, but because we are not really committed to our goals.
Finding and achieving goals: methods + tips
In the following, we will introduce you to proven and tested methods, tips and ways on how you can find your own goals, set them correctly and focus so that you can ultimately achieve them.
Do not be afraid to set yourself high goals. Aim high , many experts rightly advise here. Even if you lack the skills today. Those who only think, plan and aim within the framework of their (current) possibilities can never outgrow themselves. Only then will your dreams come true.
Here is a methodical that is recommended for those who want to achieve what they set out to do. Behind it is an acronym, consisting of four stages, how one can find and achieve goals:
- Really wantYou know the problem of good intentions: people tend to want something, but then forget about it. It is just not enough to say: “I want to lose weight” or “I want to write a book.” You really have to want it deeply, in short: it has to be a deeply felt desire. Check your motivation as to why and for what purpose you want this: It could be that you will achieve the actual goal much faster in a different way.
- Keep it simpleWhatever you want, don’t overcomplicate. If you go into too much details, the more unfounded your goal becomes. Give it enough weight, plan BIG, not just big. And keep it as simple as possible and as specific as necessary.
- Top priorityAs soon as you have formulated your clear, simple, really important goal, do not let it out of your sight: Make it your top priority – in everyday life, at work, in your free time and do everything possible to achieve it. Remember the first time you were madly in love: you only had one thing on your mind – to win that person’s heart! It has to be the same with your goal. Everything else is secondary.
- Make it gradualNow that you know how to do it, try not to cram as many goals as you can into one day, one week, or one month. It will only result in chaos and frustration. Concentrate your energies on one specific goal. For successful determination, less is more: One goal at a time. Less is more here.
What goals you set yourself in life – each person has to decide for himself. Our expectations, hopes and dreams are very complex. And they change with age. For example when we get married, have children or retire. None of this is set in stone. It is crucial that we “consciously” set or change our goals. This can only be achieved with regular self-reflection and by being honest with yourself.
The SMART method is used to better formulate, structure and achieve goals. There is also an acronym behind this method term. The letters stand for:
- SpecificGeneralizations and ambiguities are natural enemies of goals. Vague formulations and unclear ideas are not enough. Determination requires precision that leave no doubt as to what is to be achieved. In the best case, the goal is summarized in a single concise sentence that gets to the point. For example: “I want to achieve a 10 percent salary increase in the next 6 months.”
- MeasurableIn order to determine in retrospect whether you have achieved your goal, it must be formulated in such a way that it can be measured. In some cases this is easy: for example, with the raise above. For other goals, you need to find substitute sizes. Example “bikini figure”: You can use the body mass index, the weight on the scales or the dress size for this.
- AttractiveWe do not achieve goals with perseverance, but only if we stand behind them and want to put them into practice. This works primarily through positive formulations: “I want to be financially independent” motivates more than “I don’t want to be poor anymore.” Experience: Only if the goal is attractive enough will it resist any setbacks.
- RealisticExcessive ambition leads to frustration. Castles in the air lead to disappointment. Goals must therefore not be completely unrealistic. In the best case, the objective is chosen in such a way that you are challenged by it, but the result remains feasible.
- TerminatedEvery goal needs a time frame, a deadline. The appointment isn’t just an important control point for success. You know that: The closer the deadline gets, the more everyone tries hard (see: Goal-Gradient-Effect ). Therefore: plan partial steps, set partial limits and achieve faster.
The WOOP strategy works in a similar way to the SMART method. Its acronym stands for the following terms:
- WishAt the beginning there is a heart felt desire that you want to achieve something.
- OutcomeNow visualize the result: What will be different when this wish comes true? How will achieving the goal change your life in a positive way? This is where you draw the energy for implementation.
- ObstacleFind the reasons why you haven’t got there yet. What are the obstacles in your way? Which personal characteristics, patterns, behaviors are disturbing?
- PlanDevelop plans for how to break down these barriers. Then you steer consistently towards your goal. Every journey starts with the first step.
Life functions like this : in retrospect, we rarely regret the mistakes we made or points where we may not have been 100 percent determined. What we regret is looking back at a life full of opportunities to find that we haven’t used anything or used far too few of them. As long as we set goals and pursue them purposefully, the whole world is open to us. Striving for greater things is innate in us. Stagnation is death.
More tips for more determination
- Writing down goals
If you write down your goals, the chance of success increases to 76 percent. This is the result of a study by psychologist Gail Matthews at Dominican University in San Rafael, California. Writing it down creates an inner commitment and constantly sends signals to our subconscious to work towards the goal.
- Tell about it people you trust
By talking about your goals to people you trust, you increase the likelihood of achieving them. Tell your family, close friends or colleagues about it. This creates commitment and increases your motivation and effort because you want to prove it to others.
- Change direction
Professionals differentiate between “away from” and “towards” goals. The latter motivate us much more and over the long term. Also because they are formulated positively. For example, those who want to “get rid of” their extra pounds fail more easily than someone who steers “towards” a healthy diet and a better body mass index.
- Looking for role models
Do you want to achieve a certain position in your job? Then find people who have already done it and learn from their mistakes and successes. Of course, you shouldn’t blindly follow everything these people do. But role models can spur us on to achieve goals.
- Finding supporters
There are many success stories of people who seem to have achieved great goals on their own. On closer inspection, however, it turns out that their successes were often only possible with support from others. It’s easier with it – in sports, for example. So look for companions, mentors and supporters who will take you along on your way.
- Avoid pessimists
At the same time, you will experience resistance along the way. You will meet doubters, critics and pessimists. Some of the feedback from them can be valuable. However, you should avoid a toxic environment – it only slows you down and blocks you.
- Reward yourselfYes, ambition and discipline are essential to achieving goals. But if you overdo it, you will soon run out of breath – and be threatened by burnout. Therefore, you should always take breaks in between and reward yourself for small successes and intermediate steps. The balance motivates us and gives new strength.
Determined, but still fails to achieve goals?
Determination is a key to success and happiness . Even so, some fail along the way. Why? The Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy has researched this intensively and has identified a cardinal error why some people never achieve their goals: They focus on the result, not on the way to get there. Above all, not on a path of “small steps”, as she calls it.
Setting big goals is important. But they can also appear oversized or too far away. That steals motivation. This is why it is important to break down large goals into many small sub-goals (and partial successes). So you don’t have to climb a huge mountain, but get closer to your goal step by step. There is a beautiful quote coming from William Faulkner: “A person who moves mountains starts by moving small stones.” So instead of planning a marathon right away, it is wiser to start with a few kilometers and then improve.
The 6 pillars of success
If you want to achieve something, you should first know yourself. The individual strengths as well as the weaknesses. Thanks to self-reflection and self-knowledge , we are able to make decisions more consciously, set goals more realistically and at the same time deal with mistakes more confidently.
It has already been proven many times that relationships are very important in the process of achieving a goal. More than a third of employees find new jobs through personal contacts, with managers it is even 70 percent of all management positions that are filled in this way. Of course, networks do not only help with job search. They also support you in achieving other goals in your life.
Exaggerated skepticism works like a self-fulfilling prophecy: at some point you actually fail. Everyone feels an urge to flee as soon as problems arise. But successful people create an atmosphere in which this urge to run away from problems statistically only lasts 0.13 seconds.
Persistence and discipline are often more important than ability. The hard-working people tend to do better than the talented ones. In fact, many career failures can be traced back to a lack of persistence rather than a lack of talent.
Along with the confidence that includes healthy and realistic optimism , it is pragmatism that brings the successful ones closer to their goals. They neither stick to theories nor defend old decisions – they make the impossible possible. In doing so, they do not understate, gloss over or generalize things. They are precise in assessing what is feasible, what it costs and what potential is needed.
Successful people don’t just learn – they want to learn as much as possible. The driving force behind this is their curiosity: why is that so? What did others do in the situation? What are the characteristics of successful people? The interests of these people are always multidisciplinary: They are open to politics, management, sport and religion, are just as interested in the stock market as they are in educational issues, in cooking or psychology. You may not have a university degree for everything, but you can learn a lot on practically all aspects of life.
Written By Tyara Wolf
Psychology and Personal Development