Every month at Balanced Achievement, we explore various personal qualities that are exhibited by the world’s most successful, happy, and fulfilled individuals. In this ongoing series called ‘The ABCs of Personal Qualities,’ we not only highlight individual personal characteristics but also explain why they are important and provide you with definitive steps that you can take to develop and cultivate the given attribute within yourself. Today, we look at the personal quality of Determination, which is vital for anyone looking to achieve their wildest aspirations.
As the calming waves of the Gulf of Mexico rhythmically washed onto the white sand beaches of Key West on Monday, September 2nd, 2013, American citizens relaxed in their beach chairs and soaked up the last rays of Labor Day Weekend. On the first Monday in September each year, businesses close and the American people celebrate an extra day off work to honor the contributions citizens make to help maintain the strength and prosperity of the United States.
Labor Day Weekend also gives individuals the chance to say goodbye to summer by filling their Saturday, Sunday, and Monday with fun, rest, and relaxation. For many, the weekend is a great time to take a trip to a tropical destination, like Key West, before the brisk fall weather arrives.
Around 2 P.M. on Labor Day Monday of 2013, just as visitors were beginning to disperse from the streets and beaches of Key West, another guest’s arrival, albeit by the most unusual method of transportation, would grasp the nation’s attention. This was the day that long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad finished her Labor Day weekend with what was ironically filled with intense, yet gratifying, labor. Like many other American citizens, Nyad’s weekend started on that Saturday with a plunge into the warm ocean water, yet for her, this would be just the start of a punishing 53-hour, 111-mile swim, from Havana to Key West.
Nyad finally accomplished her lifelong dream of swimming from Cuba to Florida at the awe-inspiring age of 64, and in the process became the first person ever to swim between the two countries without a shark cage. Over the course of a 35-year period, Nyad attempted the swim a total of five times and dealt with unimaginable setbacks and crushing heartbreak. Due to Nyad’s unmatched levels of perseverance, we can examine her story to uncover the formula for unbreakable determination.
What is Determination:
At the heart of every great success story, you will find an individual, or group of people, who decisively decided on an objective and took whatever steps were needed to achieve their goals. Whenever individuals pursue truly worthwhile endeavors, it is almost certain that there will be obstacles, setbacks, and an internal desire to give up on the process. Only by having unbreakable determination and unshakeable resolve, can individuals assure themselves that they will succeed in the undertakings that are most important to them.
By closely examining the great success stories of the past and present, we can uncover three main components that form together and create the unyielding levels of determination that are needed to achieve truly great things. While we will examine Diana Nyad’s story to expose the formula for unbreakable determination, the equation will remain the same regardless of an individual’s objectives, goals, field, or profession:
Conviction + Motivation + Commitment = Unbreakable Determination
The components of conviction, motivation, and commitment are the central aspects of optimal determination. Each one plays an important role in keeping individuals focused on achieving their most challenging yet rewarding goals. Diana Nyad, maybe more so than any other person, showed what is possible when an individual has the unbreakable determination that is created from these three inner traits. Let’s look at each of them more closely and examine how Nyad’s story was built upon them:
- Conviction: True determination will always be built upon an individual’s unquestioned beliefs about the importance of achieving a particular goal or objective. Unless someone can definitely answer the question, ‘Why is it [the particular goal] so important?’ they will not be able to rely on the determination needed to succeed in the most challenging circumstances. Diana Nyad truly believed that becoming the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida was her destiny, it was her calling, and it was her opportunity to inspire the world.
- Motivation: Having the conviction to do something monumental can often be enough to propel individuals toward success, but by adding motivational incentives, they can become nearly impossible to stop. When motivation is balanced both intrinsically and extrinsically, you can be assured that an individual’s levels of determination will best be boosted. Nyad, for example, was motivated intrinsically to push herself beyond the limits that doctors thought were humanly possible, but she was also motivated by the external possibilities of going down in the history books as being truly one of a kind.
- Commitment: There are many individuals who have the necessary reasons to achieve a particular goal and the motivation needed to succeed, yet fail to meet their desired outcomes because they lack the unwavering commitment that is needed during the most trying times. It is certain that the most rewarding goals are typically the ones that come with the highest number of setbacks, take the most work, and take the longest to achieve. Therefore, only by making a commitment to see the process through, yet remaining flexible with the desired objective, can an individual assuredly succeed. Nyad’s commitment to achieving her lifelong goal, for example, lasted for 35 years and was considered to be unreasonable by most.
If you desire to achieve your wildest aspirations and create your ideal life, you will at some point have to rely on the unbreakable levels of determination that only come from unwavering conviction, motivation, and commitment.
Why is Determination Important:
To show why unbreakable determination is such an important personal characteristic to develop, we can look at the story of another inspirational individual who overcome enormous odds and left a legacy rivaled by only a select few. Thomas Edison, who is best known for inventing the lightbulb, exhibited unwavering levels of willpower in his pursuit of excellence largely because he realized that setbacks, doubts, and obstacles were all part of the achievement process. He is famously quoted as saying:
I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
To achieve what may be thought of as impossible by your peers, you will inevitably face doubts, doubters, setbacks, obstacles, and challenges that often seem insurmountable. To succeed in the endeavors that are most meaningful to you, you will undoubtedly face times when only pure determination can push you through. Diana Nyad similarly faced obstacles of the biggest kind and was only able to preserve them because of her conviction, motivation, and commitment. When you consider that her first attempt at swimming from Havana to Key West was at 28 years old, it becomes easy to see how valuable unbreakable determination actually is.
Regardless of the goal or objective, you can succeed in any endeavor by developing the unbreakable levels of determination that Edison and Nyad relied on. It is important for us all to remember what Edison’s told us:
Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
Building Unbreakable Determination Within Yourself:
There are definitive steps that each of us can take to build the levels of unbreakable determination that made success imminent for the likes of Nyad, Edison, and countless other immortals. It is important to remember that while many in the Western world set their sights solely on external successes, true determination can only be created when there is equal importance shown to internal evolution. With this being said, let’s look at five ways that you can build unbreakable determination within yourself:
Determine what is Truly Important:
Only by looking deep within yourself will you be able to find the goals that bring about a sense of true passion and unwavering conviction. By asking yourself questions such as ‘What is it that I want to do?’ ‘What am I passionate about?’ and ‘What would make me truly happy?’ you can begin the process of finding the goals that are most meaningful to you. It is important to look beyond surface-level goals that may come as a byproduct of social conditioning and find more authentic desires deep within your soul.
Determine Why it is Important to Succeed:
Since one of the components of unbreakable determination is motivation, you will have to determine why it is so important for you to succeed in your chosen endeavors. You may want to create a list that focuses on answering the question ‘Why is it important for me to do this?’ and review it when you find yourself doubting your capabilities or your decision to pursue a desired outcome. Once you find the things that you are truly passionate, about and build motivation by answering the ‘whys,’ you will be well on your way to succeeding in any way that you choose.
Create Extrinsic Motivation Checkpoints:
It is certain that many of your most worthwhile goals won’t produce the desired results until months or years after you begin the process of working toward their completion. For this reason, you should set particular stepping-stone checkpoints where you reward yourself in some way. After taking a major step towards one of your most challenging goals, for example, you could buy yourself something that you have wanted or take a trip that you have been putting off. These milestones can act adequately as the extrinsic motivation that is needed to succeed.
Make Your Commitment with Flexibility:
When you set out to achieve a particular goal, you may come to realize that what you truly want is different than the objective you initially set. While commitment is a vital component of unbreakable determination and the achievement process, it is important to stay flexible with the commitment that you make to the desired outcome and shift courses if something more enticing comes into your focus. If this happens, don’t become discouraged and think that you have wasted time, but view the initial steps as part of the process leading you towards your truer destiny.
Regularly Review Progress and Alter Strategies:
By regularly reviewing the progress that you have made in the achievement process, you can gain extra motivation by seeing how far you have come. If you look back every month and notice the massive steps that you have taken, it will be much easier to continue toward the completion of your most important goals. Furthermore, it is equally important that you regularly review your strategies and alter them when you find a more effective alternative.
Once you have built unbreakable determination within yourself, you will be well on the way to achieving whatever it is that you desire most. Yet, it is still important not to let one or two successes slow you down, as the process of continuously recreating yourself is what is most meaningful. Always remember what Diana Nyad told us:
It wasn’t so much what did I want to do. It was who I want to be.”