How to increase your self-determination so you can create the life you desire
Imagine waking up with a sense of purpose and direction, understanding more about what you want and how you’re going to get there. Picture yourself overcoming challenges with ease, confident in your ability to control your life and make decisions that align with your values. If this is what you want, you need self-determination.
The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.
Self-determination has the power to transform your life. In this article, I will share 10 ways to increase this quality in yourself so you can tap into your inner strength and unleash your true potential.
Whether you are seeking personal or professional growth, here are some tips and tools that can help you take more control of your life so you can consciously create the future you deserve.
1. Set clear goals
Your self-determination will increase when you are focused, motivated and accountable, so the first thing you should do is set clear goals. In order to do that, you need to be specific and identify measurable targets for yourself. Make sure your goals are realistic and achievable. This means that you need to take into consideration your resources, skill set, and any obstacles you may encounter on the way.
Setting goals that are unattainable will lead to frustration and discouragement. Achievable goals will build your confidence and give you momentum.
First, ask yourself: what do I want to achieve? This could be a short-term goal, such as learning a new skill, or a long-term goal, such as finishing your degree.
Once you know what your goal is, break it down into manageable chunks. If, for example, you want to write a book, decide to write 500 words a day 4 days a week.
2. Choose to adopt a growth-mindset
It is crucial you develop a progressive mentality if you want to move through the inevitable obstacles that life throws your way without letting them defeat you. You can increase your self-determination by developing a growth-mindset through effort, dedication and knowledge. This perspective allows you to view challenges and failures as chances to develop perseverance and to progress faster.
When you have a fixed mindset, you believe that your abilities and traits are fixed and cannot be changed. This mindset will predispose you to giving up and to not take risks because you will see failure as a reflection of your lacking abilities and your inherent inferiority.
When you adopt a growth-mindset, you see failure as an opportunity to learn and grow. This mindset will help you stay motivated and focused, even when you are challenged by setbacks.
3. Practice self-reflection
If you want to increase your self-determination, you need to take the time to examine your thoughts, feelings and behaviours, so you can become aware of areas that need improvement or change. When you reflect on your experiences, you gain a better understanding of who you are, what your goals are, and you can make better decisions about your life.
Set aside time to practice self-reflection. Maybe this will involve writing in a daily journal for a few minutes, or taking more time once a week. Try to ask yourself questions like:
As you reflect on these questions, be honest and non-judgmental about yourself. The purpose of self-reflection is not to criticise yourself, but to gain self-awareness and identify areas for improvement. Be kind, encouraging and compassionate, and focus on what you can learn.
4. Give and receive support
You cannot build your self-determination alone. Nobody has ever built a city on their own. A support network is essential because it offers encouragement, guidance, and emotional support when you need it. It can also provide a sense of belonging and connectedness that can help you become more confident and empowered. To create a support network, identify the people in your life who are positive and trustworthy. They could be friends, family members, colleagues, or mentors.
Reach out to them. Let them know you appreciate their support and would like to strengthen your relationship. If, for whatever reason, you don't have a lot of friends or have recently moved, you could join a group or community that aligns with your interests and values, such as a support group or a volunteer organisation.
Be open and honest with your network about your needs. Let them know what you’re struggling with and what kind of help you need. This could be practical support, such as help with childcare, to emotional support, such as a listening ear.
Also, be sure to reciprocate the support you receive. A support network is a two-way street. Be a good listener, offer encouragement and feedback, and be willing to lend a helping hand when you can.
5. Be pro-active and take the initiative
Being pro-active is about taking the initiative and making things happen, rather than waiting for someone else to do it for you. When you take the initiative, you take responsibility for your life and your goals. Start by identifying the areas of your life where you feel you could take more action. Maybe it's about pursuing a new hobby or perhaps a new business. Once you know which area where you’d like to take more initiative in, set specific goals and develop a plan to achieve them. Next, take action. You may have to step outside of your comfort zone, trying new things, or taking risks.
This doesn't always mean taking big, bold actions. Sometimes small steps can lead to significant progress. When challenges come your way, try to maintain a positive attitude and keep. Reflect on your progress, celebrate your successes, and learn from your mistakes.
Be pro-active in seeking opportunities and taking advantage of them. Perhaps it is networking, or trying new experiences, or creating opportunities for yourself. Ask for help or guidance when you need it, but also be willing to take charge and make decisions on your own.
6. Make self-care a priority
You cannot increase your self-determination on an empty tank. Practicing self-care means taking deliberate and intentional steps to care for your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. If you want to achieve your goals, you need to feel energised, focused and resilient and all those things need you to be at your best.
Start by prioritising your physical health, as well as your mental and emotional health. This may mean setting aside time for hobbies and interests that bring you joy, seeking social support, or engaging in therapy or counselling.
Self-care is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and what works for me may not work for you, so experiment with different self-care practices to find what works best for you.
Remember to set boundaries to prevent burnout and overwhelm. This may mean learning to say “no” to obligations that don’t align with your values or goals or delegating tasks to others.
Take time off, whether that means taking a break from technology or scheduling regular “me time” to do something you enjoy.
7. Focus on your strengths
When you focus on your strengths, you will build on your natural talents and abilities, which can boost your confidence and help you achieve your goals. What you’re good at? This could be anything from creative pursuits to technical skills or interpersonal abilities.
Reflect on what comes naturally to you and what you enjoy doing. You can also ask others for feedback to gain a better understanding of your strengths.
Once you’ve identified what your strengths are, look for ways to apply them in your life. Perhaps you decide to pursue hobbies or interests that align with your strengths or you seek job opportunities that allow you to use your talents.
When you’re able to use your strengths regularly, you’re more likely to feel engaged, motivated, and fulfilled. By focusing on your natural abilities and talents, you will build a sense of self-confidence and achieve greater success in your personal and professional life.
8. Take responsibility
Do you own up to your mistakes and recognise the impact your choices have on yourself and others? When you hold yourself accountable, other people will be more likely to trust you, because they will see you have integrity.
To take responsibility for your actions, start by recognising when you’ve made a mistake or caused harm. You may have to admit fault, apologise, or make amends. It’s important to do not make excuses or blame others for your actions, as this will undermine your credibility and hinder your ability to learn from your mistakes.
Next, address the consequences of your actions. Perhaps you will need to make reparations or take steps to prevent similar mistakes in the future. Try to reflect on the root causes of your behaviour so you can identify any underlying issues that may have contributed to your actions.
Taking responsibility for your actions means you are willing to learn and grow from your mistakes. This will make you more resilient and confident so you can achieve your goals more easily. It will also build trust and respect from others, as they see you are willing to take ownership of your actions and work to improve.
9. Build your resilience
The ability to bounce back from setbacks and overcome challenges is what being resilient is all about. You need to be flexible, adaptable, and persistent. Focus on your strengths, learn from your mistakes, and seek support from others when you need it.
10. Stay Motivated
Staying motivated by creating a vision board, listening to inspiring podcasts, or seeking positive affirmations is essential for maintaining self-determination.
Remember why you started on this path and keep that motivation at the forefront of your mind. Celebrate your successes along the way, no matter how small they may be. Stay positive and optimistic. Try to maintain a growth-mindset and focus on the potential for learning and growth, rather than dwelling on past mistakes or failures.
Surround yourself with positive influences, such as supportive friends, inspiring role models, or motivational literature or podcasts.
Finally, establish a routine or schedule that helps you stay on track. Set aside specific times each day or week to work towards your goals and prioritise your most important tasks.
Break larger tasks into smaller, more manageable steps, and reward yourself for progress along the way.
When you take intentional steps to increase your self-determination, you allow yourself to break free from the limitations of your past so you can create a brighter future.
Start now. Take the first step today and watch as your life unfolds in exciting and unexpected ways.