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 were motivated 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.

• 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.”
• Practice gratitude for those that have helped you get to where you are today. Use reflection to appreciate the resources they provide, not what you may have lost along the journey. As someone with the early onset of Parkinson’s, Michael J. Fox has stated, “One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but cannot be taken away unless it is surrendered.”

Habits That Sustain Determination

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