Determination vs. Motivation

Have you ever found yourself in a situation when you started out incredibly motivated and passionate to get something done, then after a while your motivation waned and the energy you had was gone? I recently had a similar experience and as a long time competitive fencer, motivation and determination are both at my core.

The World Fencing Championships

It began in 2013 after a decent result at the Over 50 World Fencing Championships where I took 14th.  I was motivated to make the US team in 2014 and had planned a routine to follow. At one of the qualifiers I was down a few points in the first elimination round and it was clear my motivation was on the wane. I became determined not to lose. I worked hard to win a pressurized bout 10-9. I was clearly in the flow and focused. I finished 2nd.

As with many sports, the National Championships are the culmination of a year’s worth of training and competing. There were six people fighting for the two remaining spots to make the team. It was going to be tight!

I was motivated to make the team. I fenced hard, won several tough bouts and reached the final 8 when I felt a pop in my knee. I won that bout and had the trainers tape my knee – I was now in the top 4.

My motivation was gone. Things felt different and I was down 1-4 in the semi final. The emotional high one gets from feeling motivated was all too fleeting and I felt empty. A good friend shouted:  “What’s going on, Jamie?” I paused, asked myself the same question and suddenly I could feel a familiar determination physically develop inside. This was not the same emotional feeling of motivation, (or lack thereof), it went much deeper. Feeling determined I won the bout 10-6. I finished 2nd again and made the US Over 50 team.

Seeking Motivation

Motivation comes from an external want while determination comes from an internal need – the latter being a more powerful driver. We spend thousands of dollars and hours of our time seeking motivation from dynamic speakers and others, learning their life lessons and hoping some of it will rub off and last longer than our drive home. We build best habits, work hard at what we love, yet somehow motivation comes and goes, leaving us with that empty feeling.

We are all reliant on external motivation but what if we see how far life will progress by using a daily determination mindset instead? Use it to complete the tasks at hand; be it that next sales call, getting that deliverable on time to your client, a difficult conversation that needs to be had or a commitment to your health. Whatever you set your mind to do, inner determination is stronger than waiting to become motivated by something, or someone else.    

Jamie Douraghy, Founder  Artisan Creative