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Desire and Determination: Complementary Forces

“Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal—a commitment to excellence—that will enable you to attain the success you seek.”
~ Mario Andretti

Desire is a spark. Determination is an accelerant. Together they ignite possibilities.
Wanting something (desire) is a first step—but it’s not enough. You’ll have to take additional steps if you aspire to reach a desired endpoint, and possibly even go beyond it. This is true whether you’re a child learning a new skill, a parent grappling with the complexities of family life, an athlete yearning to develop certain proficiencies, or a professional in the throes of career-building. The additional steps component involves determination, which is fuelled by effort, commitment, and more.


So, what are some of the steps that help to define and propel determination, leading to successful outcomes? Research in the field of education reveals many practical strategies. These can be applied to raising children—and to raising the bar for oneself, too.

Consider the following four suggestions:

  1. Find your cheerleaders. Seek out those will support and encourage you. Invite them to bolster your endeavours. In fact, you can boost and instill confidence in one another as you tackle challenges, augment determination, and progress.
  2. Establish reasonable goals. Try to create expectations that are specific, reachable, and manageable. Make sure they’re relevant—that is, worth striving toward. Envision what’s meaningful and realistic. To that end, keep your action plan clear and simple, and tweak it if need be.
  3. Anticipate setbacks. There are no straight lines in trajectories of life or learning. You’ll inevitably encounter bumps, detours, and unforeseen roadblocks along the way. Confronting and overcoming these can be both challenging and rewarding. Forbearance, resilience, tenacity, and flexibility can fortify forward momentum and help you attain fulfillment.
  4. Have faith in your abilities. Tap your strengths—and be grateful for them. Give yourself pep talks, be optimistic, get creative, take a leap of faith, and allow adequate time and space to recharge your energy levels so you can advance.


My mother was the most determined person I’ve ever known. If she wanted to accomplish something she found a way. She taught me the value of desire and determination, and she emphasized that accomplishments are not predetermined. They evolve. Over the years, I’ve learned that attitude, patience, hard work, self-confidence, and preparedness are important drivers.

I thought of this (and her) as I recovered from knee replacement surgery. I desired to gain strength and mobility. I was determined to recover fully. However, this only happened because I make it happen. It was up to me to put forth effort, do the physiotherapy, acquire whatever help I needed, and persevere. Resolve drove accomplishment, and it occurred step by step. (In this case, quite literally.)

And so, as you and your kids aspire toward meaningful, let desire and determination in tandem fuel the momentum. Welcome dreams, opportunities, and experiences as they arise, stay the course, and embrace the power of possibility!

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This article is updated from one written by Dr. Joanne Foster that was featured in issues of Best Version Media’s Neighbours Magazines, and distributed across Ontario, Canada.

Dr. Joanne Foster

Dr. Joanne Foster, an acclaimed author and educator, has dedicated over 35 years to gifted education and child development. With expertise in psychology and special education, her work empowers parents and educators, fostering creativity and high-level learning in children and teens.

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