When Being Determined Isn’t Enough.

Every truth has two sides; it is as well to look at both, before we commit ourselves to either. ~ Aesop

Determination is an amazing quality that has allowed my client to accomplish amazing feats. It is a beautiful and powerful quality that allows us to do incredible things and to stay in the hard things and complete them. Determination is a powerful energetic driver that keeps my clients aiming for and achieving their goals no matter the cost. It has made them strong and confident. And, like all things, determination has its downsides.

While determination has its downsides, my intent is to ask some questions and invite some personal inquiry. The invitation is to be curious about determination and to be awake to the gifts and limits of determination so you can leverage this way consciously.

What does it mean to be determined?

Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines determined as “having a strong feeling that you are going to do something, and that you will not allow anyone or anything to stop you” and, “not weak or uncertain: having or showing determination to do something.”

Can you feel just how powerful being determined is?

Even as I write this I feel a deep sense of pride in knowing I possess this quality. And to all my dear clients who are reading this (you know who you are) and to all those I may one day have the opportunity to work with, I honor you and that part of you that can set her sight on something she wants to do/ possess and not allow anything to deter her. If you take nothing else from this email, honor yourself and appreciate what being determined has made possible for you.

The gifts of being determined.

Let’s go back for a second to the definition of determined:

“Having a strong feeling that you are going to do something, and that you will not allow anyone or anything to stop you”

And “not weak or uncertain: having or showing determination to do something.”

No matter your sentiment about being determined it’s a beautiful quality.

Personally, it’s what allowed me to move to and live in Lima, Peru for two years where I taught nutrition in the shanty towns and English to community members. It’s the fuel that sourced all my university endeavors and to become an Integral Master Coach. It was a driver in my choice to work full-time in an executive capacity and be a mom to two young boys. Determination allowed me to leave the security of a well paying job to become an entrepreneur.

Determination has been a great part of my way. And it’s what I invite you to do as well, notice what your determination has made possible.

The challenges of being determined.

Determination is delicious when it’s alive. It makes things happen. And, determination has its edges can be limiting. In considering the other side of determination, our goal is to be awake to how being determined can be problematic, especially if we over-rely on this part of our way. This inquiry doesn’t discredit the quality, rather illuminates choice. The more awake we are to all of determination, the more we can consciously choose when to employ it, and when to set it down. And with choice, we can also create spaciousness within us to invite in other ways of working and living.

The definition of being determined gives us clues to what the challenges are. It’s a high intensity, focused, bold energy that meets all problems with force and confidence. It holds a way that shuts off other options and opportunities and a commitment to see something through at all cost.

How does being determined draw down on our energy? What do we “not see” when we are hyper-focused? How much room does it hold for collaboration or support? Is it sustainable across the long-term? Are there parts of our life or work where determination is clearly not needed?

I have all my own answers to how being determined limits me: Used for long periods of time, I experience an exhaustion that hits me at a bone level. When I’m in a fierce mode, stuck to my outcome, I have a tendency to shut out the support or participation of others, not with intention, rather because I’m so focused. I can also become very disconnected to my (heart) reasons for doing the thing in the first place, and am able to go on autopilot and “do”. I (now) know how it can leave my family on the periphery of my life, and that in the times I’ve employed determination I tended to bring it to all of my life.

Wholeness — which I continue to invite, says “there is no shame in holding curiosity up as light to the edges of being determined”. The same goes to you. How has being determined been a challenge? Where do you feel sad about what it’s shut down or off of your life?

A Practice: invite curiosity and simply notice

The inquiry follows here with a simple practice. This practice let’s you pay attention to determination and how it might be alive in you today. Without any need to change anything, simply notice by scanning back over the day and look at where determination shows up. It’s a fact finding mission, that’s all. Make a few notes.

Here are some places to “look”:

  • In today’s problems and challenges
  • In your energetic ups and downs
  • Where your “personal” life meets your “work” life
  • When your mind forward thinks to 2022 plans
  • In how you relate to things you don’t “feel like doing”
  • After dinner when you when you’re sitting on the sofa

This isn’t a practice of right or wrong. It’s only curiosity. Nothing needs to change.

Can you invite this curiosity in over a few days or a week?

A level deeper — optional

If you find determination close to the surface, and easily available to your awareness notice what sensations arise in your body. What emotional qualities are connected to determination? Notice how it affects your energy level. What is the quality of your internal dialogue when determination is at bay? This level deeper invites you to be curious about how being determined affects your whole self.

Welcome paradox

After a few days or a week of self observation reflect on the two “sides” of being determined.

1) How has being determined supported you?
What you can appreciate about how being determined is a part of your way? What would not have happened without determination?

2) What has been challenging about being determined?
What was your body’s experience? Where in your work/life does it feel like it’s no longer needed? Why?

Welcome choice!

Wholeness creates lots of room to be determined AND to imagine what other ways of working and living that you could invite in to co-exist with your current way of work/living.

May this exploration of determination support you as you redefine success for yourself. If you’d like to receive a weekly dose of perspective and practice you can sign up here: www.theenergyoasis.com/the-tuesday-letter



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Susan Doerksen Castro

Susan Doerksen Castro


Entrepreneur & Integral Master Coach™ helping accomplished women redefine success so they can realize a new, more fulfilling agenda for their lives.