Key Workplace Skills: Determination (Definition, Tips and Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

August 30, 2021

Determination is a skill necessary for accomplishing any kind of goal or objective. This skill is especially valuable in the workplace and it's a sought-after trait by employers. In this article, we explore the importance of determination, its value in the workplace and the traits of determined people to help you develop determination yourself.

What is determination?

Determination is a firmness of purpose or resoluteness. Specifically, being determined means have a firm decision or goal and not wavering in your pursuit of achieving it. An athlete might have a goal to finish a marathon, no matter how long it takes them or how hard they have to work. Their determination gives them the motivation to wake up early to train, push through during the race and to keep moving forward when they want to stop. Their determination outlasts dozens of other factors that threaten their resolve.  

Determination in the workplace manifests differently than determination in athletics, but it is just as important. If you look around at your colleagues, you can see how their determination helps them reach their goals and move their careers forward.

Why is determination important in the workplace?

There are several reasons why determination is an essential trait in both employees and leaders. Determination propels employees through stressful times while giving leaders the strength to push their teams forward. Here are some of the top benefits of determination at work:

1. Determination gives you hope

Throughout your life, you may be tempted at times to quit. You may want to drop a class when the material is hard or to give up your diet when you are struggling to eat healthily. Giving up is easy, but fortunately, you have a tool on your side that can help—determination.

Determination is incredibly powerful in the workplace during challenging times. When you are on a tight deadline, when you are in the peak season or when the company is not doing well, determination to succeed pushes you to keep working. As long as you can focus on the potential benefits ahead and believe that your hard work will pay off, then your determination can motivate you until the end.

2. Determination spurs creativity

If you come across a roadblock or run out of options, you can become frustrated. However, determination spurs creativity and encourages you to come up with creative solutions to complex problems.

For example, if you have asked for resources for a project at work and are denied, you have two options: give up on your project or find other methods that management will approve. If the project is too expensive, you can look for creative ways to save money. If the project is too complex or takes too long, you can find ways to simplify it. 

In this case, your determination to make your vision of a project a reality outweighs the denial by your boss. This does not guarantee that your manager will approve the project in the future, but it increases your chances because of your determination and creativity.

3. Determination pushes you to go above and beyond

When you want something bad enough, you are willing to go the extra mile to achieve it. This is determination in action. Your coworkers might show determination when they want to impress the boss or take steps to get a promotion. If you are determined, you know the time and effort it takes to do something is worthwhile if the goal is reached. 

In the business world, this dedication to doing more and standing out is essential for success. You can see this in the number of new startups each year. These companies are competing against each other, startups from previous years and established businesses in their field. 

Many of these startups will fail because they do not offer something unique or something better than others out there. The companies that survive will be led by founders who are determined to keep working until they stand out from the competition.

4. Determination helps you motivate others

Consider all the other employees in your workplace. You likely have optimists (people who think everything is going to end well) and pessimists (people who think everything is going to end poorly). When times are tough, the optimists often rally their employees and coworkers, convincing them that even though the work is hard and there is a lot to do, it can be done if everyone works together. It is the determination of the optimists that motivates people to work harder until the end. 

This is not to say that pessimists cannot be determined. Many people who consider themselves pessimistic can be determined to prove themselves wrong. They might think that the situation is hopeless, but will keep trying anyway and work to the best of their abilities.

It does not matter whether you are a leader on the executive team or an intern who just started work. Anyone employee can practice determination and work hard to achieve their goals. The best employees will spread their determination and drive on to others, so everyone feels empowered to work hard and reach their goals.

Related: 15 Entry-Level Jobs That Pay Well

5. Determination provides guidance and motivation

Some people feel demotivated at work because they are not sure what to do or where to go. The people who are actively engaged in their workplace are those who care about the companies they work for and who want to see their businesses succeed. The other workers are disengaged or even ‘actively disengaged,’ which means they are intentionally disconnected from the work that a company does. 

Determined employees beat these odds. They are actively engaged and want the best for themselves, their team and the company. Their determination gives them the drive to push ahead and do better. In some cases, this means finding ways to reach their sales goals. In other cases, this means hitting milestones and getting noticed for a promotion. Instead of disconnecting and choosing to be uninvolved, determination encourages employees to stay focused and driven. 

What are some traits of determined people?

If you feel like you are not determined or if you want to improve your determination levels to achieve your goals, there are a few steps you can take. Here are certain unifying traits of determined people that you can emulate and practice on your own:

1. Determined people set small goals for themselves

You cannot accomplish your goals all at once. No one completes a marathon without training. They start by running one mile, and then they keep building up their strength and their stamina until they reach a point where they can go the full 26.2 miles. If you want to practice determination, follow in their footsteps and set achievable goals for yourself. 

Write down your main goal, and then list the steps you can take to get there. Break down your plan into smaller steps that you can take today and build on tomorrow. This will make your goals seem more realistic and help you create a plan for success. 

2. Determined people believe their future is in their control

Some people believe that they have no control over the direction of their careers. You might think that no matter what you do, you will never get the results you want. In some cases, you may believe the only thing that will affect your future is outside forces.

Determined people know that the actions and decisions of others affect them, but they also believe that their future is in their control. They believe that they can land a job if they apply to enough places, prepare for the job interview and dress professionally. By taking command of their own lives, determined people set themselves up for success and limit the impact of forces they cannot control. 

Related: Guide: How to Succeed at a Hiring Event or Open Interview

3. Determined people do not whine or complain

Being determined does not mean that work or success will always come easily. The tasks you complete can be difficult, no matter your frame of mind. However, determined employees do not let negativity pull them down. They do not complain about their assignments or consider themselves victims in various situations. Determination means pushing through no matter what and focusing on a positive future outcome⁠—not a negative present situation or setback.

Plus, withholding complaints will also motivate those around you. They will not feel the need to complain along with you and instead will rise to your standard of behavior. 

4. Determined people are inwardly focused

Determined workers are not concerned with what other people think about them. They do not care that other people think they work too hard or prioritize the wrong things. They focus on reaching their personal goals.

When you are trying to reach something, like an internal promotion, there will be many people who try to tell you to relax or give your efforts a break. But only you can decide when to keep trying and when to step back.

Determination looks different in everyone. Some people show their determination by working long hours, while others show it by coming up with creative solutions to problems. Similarly, people have different levels of determination towards different things. Some people are determined to improve their workplace, while others funnel their determination into their personal success. 

Look around your workplace and notice how your peers show their determination. You will start to see how their trait shapes your office environment and how you, too, can use it to further your success.

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