“Nothing of worth or weight can be achieved with half a mind, with a faint heart, and with a lame endeavor” (Isaac Barrow).
WHEN YOU THINK OF DETERMINATION, WHAT OTHER WORDS COME TO MIND? Usually, we think of persistence and perseverance. But while determination can certainly have that meaning, think more carefully for a moment. To “determine” something is to “decide” concerning it, and persistence in the pursuit of a goal grows out of determination in this more basic sense. Those who are the most tenacious in pursuing their goals are those who have decided on them the most firmly. On the other hand, many people fail to reach their goals because they haven’t really made up their minds. Having made no real commitment, they haven’t determined to do it.
Half-made decisions are a huge problem in the world. Most of us suffer from failing to clearly determine what we’re going to do. So we limp forward in life, wavering and vacillating. In the middle of our work, we have second thoughts and we give up.
But, of course, there is an opposite problem. That is the problem of never evaluating what we’re doing. Stubbornly fixed on a goal, we never stop to think whether that’s a goal we ought to be pursuing.
So what should we do? How can we learn the positive kind of determination and avoid the negative kind? Here is a three-fold plan: (1) We should carefully consider our goals before we commit ourselves to them. This is the stage at which we listen to our conscience. (2) Having determined our goals, we work hard to reach them. Here is where persistence comes in. (3) We reevaluate our goals during periods of rest. Thomas à Kempis said it well: “Determine a plan of action in the morning, and then evaluate yourself at night.”
All of us are visionaries to some extent. We see goals that would be worthy of pursuit. But as we begin to pursue them, our vision fails us. We can’t see how things are going to work out, so we quit. What we need is a commitment that will keep us moving toward conscience-driven goals even when the darkness sets in and vision fails us. Wisely determined goals should be worked on . . . with determination!
“The will is the strong blind man who carries on his shoulders the lame man who can see” (Arthur Schopenhauer).