In our work with a nonprofit for reforestation of the USA, we were engaged to help the staff know the difference between motivation and determination. The directors for the program stated that the staff and volunteers had motivation but seemed to lack the ‘staying power’ to achieve the ultimate outcome. Indeed, the long term vision to have domestic farmers see the value in reforestation takes educational sessions along with the actual planting of 18 billion trees. It appeared that some of the organization had tremendous ‘starter behavior’ but dropped out after a few months. Why is it that motivation was not enough to sustain the progress to ensure a viable world for generations to come? It is the difference between enthusiasm and vigor, known to many as determination.

Whether it’s personal goals or specialized results as large as the tree planting program, what are the habits that nourish deterministic behavior? Reflect on the areas below and determine where you may need to cultivate your practices for determination:
• Declare a commitment, not just an intention & build your life not just as an endless pursuit of activities. Intentions are very much like New Year resolutions. They possess great desire; although, they are never achieved. It’s not that they lack sincerity, but are insufficient for coordinating action for yourself or others. Intention is not enough to change emotional and behavioral patterns either from an individual’s own belief system. Commitments are a crucial element of our lives in building and maintaining meaningful success in relationships, in business, in spiritual development and even, in physical health. Commitments are not only those made internally for imminent achievement; but, also for how we coordinate actions with others. Commitments involve passion and are made from deep concern or alarm. Remember that you are bigger than your job or your chosen profession. Shift your life to focus on something purposeful and meaningful to you, whether it’s reforestation, food harvesting or fundraising for natural disaster recovery. Connect in a deeper way to the world around you and those things you care about.
• Don’t allow baggage from yesterday to creep into today’s efforts. Everyone has some history of relationships, failures, or even estranged family. When you are focusing on the goals of tomorrow, do not attach those stories to the discernment of how you will progress through the events of the present moment. What happened in the past has its place in the past, not today.
• Whatever the goal, keep your focus on the bigger vision. What will change or be the benefits to a larger community could even be a legacy for you. Ask yourself what concept you want to prove or make clear about your concerns such as, demonstrating cultural inclusion or cooperating with other religious groups on holidays.
• Change your relationship with time. Big visions and dreams require determination and perseverance as well as talent. When highway construction forced the closure of Colonel Sanders’ tiny restaurant inside a gas station, he drove around the southern states to other restaurants to cook chicken for them. Ultimately, news of the quality of the chicken spread to other restaurants enabling the Colonel to begin franchising, well after he was 40 years of age! Time becomes not as big an issue when the end result is a service to the community such as, the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market Institute achieved a land lease that enabled the market vendors to set down roots; and, secure a commercial selling locale for the first time in 35 years!
• Associate with positive people, not the nay-sayers that say it can’t be done. Negative people will suck the life out of your ambitions and hopes. Start by engaging and building a substantial support community of like minded friends and colleagues. As the late Christopher Reeve said, “So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable; and then when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”

Habits That Sustain Determination

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