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How to develop the characteristics of a determined person

November 25, 2022 - 12 min read

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What makes a person determined?

The importance of determination in your life

Main traits of a determined person

How to become a determined person

Becoming a determined person

Determination takes you places. It keeps you focused, eager, and motivated while you work on achieving your goals. Without determination, you'll become lost on your journey and lose the meaning behind goal setting.

Studies have found that people with higher levels of self-determination are associated with sustained behavior and greater performance. Determined people recognize the value of working hard because they know the reward is worth it.

But determination isn't a character trait that you decide to have. It takes dedication, grit, and self-control to become a determined person. This article discusses what determination looks like and how to develop the characteristics of a determined person.

What makes a person determined?

Determination is deciding firmly to do something, especially in relation to goals. Determined people are usually extremely motivated and focused on what they want to achieve. Regardless of any roadblocks or challenges, they maintain a resilient mindset and push through to succeed. 

But determination is more than just sticking it out during hard times. It's also about knowing which direction to head in, understanding the purpose behind your actions, and making firm decisions about accomplishing goals.

Self-determination theory states that people are motivated to seek change and achieve growth because of three psychological needs:

  1. Autonomy: The need to feel in control of their behavior, future, and situation.

  2. Competence: The need to be good at certain skills to help them succeed with their goals.

  3. Relatedness: The need to feel a sense of belonging and connection with others.

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So, what does determination look like? Here's an example of determination in life: 

Dreaming big isn't anything new to you. The dream you're currently working toward is opening up your own business, which you decided a year ago. You want to open your own business because you've dreamed of being your own boss your whole life and you want to pursue your passions.

After working as a manager at another company, you know you have the skills to execute this, and you’ve found a great community of local entrepreneurs to support you in this journey. Your psychological needs are met and you’re ready to grow. 

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The importance of determination in your life

Determination and goal setting go hand-in-hand. You can't set or achieve your goals without having any determination to meet them. You're the most successful with your goal setting when you're determined and adaptive, meaning you’re focused on achieving your goals and willing to adapt to any necessary circumstances to do that.

Here are three more reasons why determination is important:

  1. Helps you overcome a fear of failure. Your determination will override your fear of failing. You’ll realize that failing at something isn't the end of the world but rather a learning opportunity and chance to improve for the future.

  2. Boosts your self-confidence. You might stray from pursuing your goals or passions because you don’t believe in yourself. With determination, you accept challenges and overcome adversity because you have faith in your abilities. Your self-esteem and confidence grow as you understand your capability and capacity for success.

  3. Increases your motivation: Self-determination increases both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, but motivation is also a source of inspiration for determination. Both work to help you focus and persevere as you achieve your goals because they show you the purpose behind them.

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Main traits of a determined person

Some personality traits of a determined person really stand out, but others are understated. And while you may have some character traits that explain why you're determined, everyone’s different. What matters is that you share the motivation and a sense of purpose to accomplish your goals.

Here are eight personality traits of highly determined people:

  1. Consistent. You recognize the importance of sustaining your efforts because change won't happen overnight.

  2. Focused. You're all about long-term goals because you're working to improve your future so that it's more meaningful to you, and that takes time.

  3. Confident. You don't let your personal insecurities or worries stop you from taking action that would allow you to live out your dreams.

  4. Unafraid to step outside your comfort zone. You know your comfort zone is too small for you. Instead of letting it limit you, you’re brave enough to regularly step outside of it.

  5. Present. You have a good habit of living in the present so that you’re focused on achieving goals, rather than dwelling on the past.

  6. Welcomes challenges. You're always ready to face new challenges head-on because you view them as opportunities to learn and improve.

  7. Passionate. Your passion shines through everything you do because you want a life full of meaning and pursuing your passions is how you'll do that. 

  8. Positive. You know there's no value in staying negative and pessimistic. Keeping a positive mindset and staying optimistic are attributes of people determined to succeed.

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How to become a determined person

You might feel empowered to begin strengthening your determination, but unsure of how to do that. Determination is something you work at each day. Some days you might struggle to find determination, while other days it comes easily. 

But certain strategies will help you exercise it and teach you how to dig deep on days when you feel like your determination is nowhere in sight. 

Here are five strategies to teach you how to be determined:

1. Define ambitious but realistic goals

Write a list of your goals and needs in life. Do they align with each other? Would you have to sacrifice one for the other? When starting to set your goals, consider using the SMART goal-setting method to remain organized and ensure your goals are attainable. 

Nobody says dreaming big is a bad thing, but your goals should be realistic. Honor your values and ambitions by setting goals that match the lifestyle you currently live. Aiming to buy a house is an admirable goal — but you’ll need to hit several savings targets on the way, so break your financial goals into reasonable steps to prevent discouragement if you miss a target.

2. Allow yourself to rest and recharge

Being determined is tiring. Focusing that hard expands physical and mental power. As you work to become determined, stay mindful of your health and wellness to avoid burnout.

Make an effort to tidy up your sleep hygiene and incorporate other types of rest into your routine to ensure you’re calm. Value your sleep as much as you do nutrition and exercise to ensure you’re properly rested and able to pursue your goals. 

3. Set challenges for yourself

One reason your determination levels are low might be that you never feel challenged. Tasks don’t need to feel impossible to be challenging, but if they’re too easy, you’ll be unengaged.

Challenges like raising your hand to speak more often in meetings or having firmer boundaries in your relationships are enough to start finding the edges of your comfort zone and trying to expand them. Once you conquer smaller challenges, you'll be more empowered to set up larger ones. 

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4. Develop a positive mindset

Determined individuals don’t automatically defer to negative thoughts. A positive mindset gives you a different perspective on obstacles, tasks, and rewards.

You'll go from thinking, "I have to climb this big hill and it's going to exhaust me," to "I get to climb this hill as part of my training to achieve my goal of becoming stronger." This positive spin will help when you feel like you lack the motivation to continue. 

5. Delay your gratification

Delaying gratification means resisting the temptation to instantly reward yourself. Postponing rewards helps improve your willpower, dedication, and self-control, furthering your determination. You hold off to reach a longer-lasting reward that's more meaningful. 

Becoming a determined person

By now, you know that the characteristics of a determined person aren't given away for free. They require hard work, focus, and positivity. 

Your determination is all in the name of succeeding at your goals. It's there to guide you in the right direction and remind you to never lose sight of why you're working so hard. The end goal is to achieve your full potential — and you can't do that without determination.

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Published November 25, 2022

Erin Eatough, PhD

Sr. Insights Manager

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