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#74 Determination

I was never the smartest person in college or medical school. But what I lacked in smarts, I made up for with a hell of a lot of determination. I'm here to remind you that you don't have to be the smartest person in the world to go after your dreams.

Whether you're a professional striving for the next big thing or someone seeking personal growth, your determination can shape your life. In this episode, I will share with you how to use determination as one of the main feelings as fuel toward Your Favorite You.

Since you’re ready to become your favorite version of you, book a consult to learn more about working with me as your coach.

"When you celebrate others, you start to see what they have created is possible for you too, and it leads to greater determination and your thinking becomes, 'Why not me?'"

What you'll learn in this episode:

  • The power of determination and its essential role in achieving goals

  • Techniques to utilize your past achievements to fuel determination

  • Ways to increase your determination

  • How to move beyond jealousy and use it as a motivator for your own success

"When you are determined, failure is never a sign to stop. It is simply a sign to reevaluate, perhaps to pivot."

Mentioned in this episode:

Be sure to sign up for a consult to see if coaching with me is the right fit for you. Join me on a powerful journey to become your favorite you.

Listen to the full episode:

Read the full episode transcript

Hey, this is Melissa Parsons, and you are listening to the Your Favorite You Podcast. I'm a certified life coach with an advanced certification in deep dive coaching. The purpose of this podcast is to help brilliant women like you with beautiful brains create the life you've been dreaming of with intentions. My goal is to help you find your favorite version of you by teaching you how to treat yourself as your own best friend.

If this sounds incredible to you and you want practical tips on changing up how you treat yourself, then you're in the right place. Just so you know, I'm a huge fan of using all of the words available to me in the English language, so please proceed with caution if young ears are around.

Oh, hi, welcome back to Your Favorite You. I'm finding it hard to believe that February is nearly over. I don't know about you, but February tends to be the longest, shortest month of the year, every damn year. Back when I was practicing peds, I always, well, okay, nearly always, nearly always, booked at least a week of vacation to get out of Ohio to some more tropical locale to get away from the busy ill season.

One year, I did not have a vacation on the books and after I made that mistake, I vowed to never make it again. So, if you've made it through February in the Northern Hemisphere, congratulations. Spring is on its way where I live.

And other than the muddy paws of our sweet puppy Barney, that is a very good thing in my mind. Okay. Today, I want to talk about determination. I was back in my hometown earlier this winter, and I took some time to go through all the stuff I still have at my mom's house. I wanted to get rid of stuff that holds no meaning for me and to curate the stuff that I do want to keep for posterity.

In this process, I found the essay that I wrote as my personal statement when I was trying to match for pediatric residency. For those of you who don't know, once you are almost done with medical school in the fourth year, you declare what type of doctor you want to be. You go around and interview at residency programs all over the country.

And then you rank the programs that you want to go to. All at the same time, the programs are ranking who they want to have as residents, and you hope to match with one of your choices. If you don't match anywhere, you have to go through a process called the scramble. Jon and I increased our degree of difficulty by doing something called the couples match.

Where we both had to like programs in the same city, and they had to like each of us. We were lucky we got our first choice, and I am assuming that Nationwide Children's wanted me so much that I was able to drag Jon along with me and Children's pulled some strings to get OSU to accept Jon. I can just picture him in his car right now on the highway, listening to this on his way to work on a Tuesday morning, laughing out loud and shaking his head.

It may have been the other way around, but we were both pretty good damn candidates and that was due to determination, at least on my part. In my personal statement, I wrote about being determined to be a physician since I was nine years old. I became determined to be a pediatrician after doing all the other rotations in my third and fourth year of medical school and being the least miserable on pediatrics and actually really loving it.

I think it had mostly to do with the fact that the pediatricians who were attendings seemed to really love their jobs, and they were the least miserable of the residents and attendings. I'm laughing right now because you know, it's true when I was home, I found two huge bankers box size boxes in my closet that were completely filled with my notes from the first and second years of medical school.

And I was pretty astounded to see all of these notes written in my own handwriting and then highlighted and color coded. And when I think of all the things that I've learned and forgotten in my lifetime, especially during those 11 years of college med school and residency, it really blows my mind. I actually FaceTimed Jon when I was going through all of this stuff and marveled at all the notes we had to take and then study.

And of course, all the tests we've taken over the years and continue to take Jon in his way was completely unimpressed and replied, yeah, miss med school was no joke. It was hard. I really do think that my brain has protected me by helping me forget. And now, whenever anything in my business feels hard, I remind myself that I am a total badass who survived med school and residency and actually thrived in pediatric practice.

Then, in addition to all that, I think about all the times my girlfriends from college post pictures of themselves from the early nineties, or when we get together and they're talking about people who were adjacent to our circle, and I have no clue who they're talking about. And I am in very few of the pictures.

I always say to them, wait, where was I? And they laugh and say, well, you were at the Cayo house in the dining room with all of your books and notebooks spread out all over the table studying, or you were in the lab trying desperately not to kill your HeLa cells. As an aside, thank you, Henrietta Lacks for your nonconsensual contributions to science.

If you haven't read the book, the immortal life of Henrietta Lacks, it is a great and infuriating read all of this to say, I was never the smartest person in college or in medical school or in residency. But what I lacked in smarts, I made up for with a hell of a lot of determination. 

And I can actually remember my pediatrician, Dr. Moore, telling me, Melissa, you don't have to be the smartest person to become a doctor. You just have to be willing to put in the work.

And he was right. According to Miriam Webster, determination is defined as the act of deciding definitely and firmly. Alternately, it is defined as. A firm or fixed intention to achieve a desired end.

Interestingly, the reason I was determined to be a physician and the reason that I am determined to work with as many women as possible in my coaching business is the same. I want to help people live the healthiest life possible. In peds, I was working on physical health, a bit more than mental health.

Though that could likely be debated. And now as a coach, I recognize even more that physical and mental emotional health are inextricably linked. You can't have the best of one without the other. One of the things that I love about determination is that it does not depend on your innate level of talent or intelligence.

I want to be completely clear here that I realized that I was born with a shit ton of privilege. Just the fact that I was born white in the United States in a middle-class family. That is a ton of privilege that is not lost on me. So, I want to make that perfectly clear. And compared to others, my privilege has only grown over the years.

The only thing I'm really lacking in terms of privilege is a penis. So, like me, you don't have to be the smartest person in the world to go after your dreams, and you will likely have to put in a fair amount of hard work. And this is where the feeling of determination will come in handy and fuel you.

When it gets difficult, you can lean on determination because you are firm in your decision to pursue your goal. Another thing I love about determination is that it presumes that there will be ups and downs and loop de loops on your journey. When you are determined, failure is never assigned to stop, it is simply assigned to reevaluate, perhaps to pivot, it's assigned to remind yourself what a badass you've always been, it might be assigned to rest for a bit if you need to, and then regroup and keep going.

At this point of the podcast, you might be thinking, yeah, Melissa sounds good, but I don't have as much determination as you do. Maybe you didn't have the experience of wanting and trying to get into and through medical school and residency. Or maybe you have not decided to start a totally different career when you are 48 years old, I have good news for you.

There are ways to intentionally increase your level of determination. The first actually an exercise I often do with my clients. I think I've talked about this exercise before on the podcast, but this exercise is to make a list of at least 25 things you want in your life. The twist to this exercise is that at least half of the things you have on your list must be things that you already have.

If I have a client who is lying to herself or being mean to herself about having, quote unquote, enough determination, we figure out how she used determination to get the things on her list that she already has pointing her brain back to her brilliance and her hard work that she has already put in often helps her see what a determined badass she already is.

Then you can start to add gratitude for your prior self for all the things that you've done and accomplished so far in your life. And that is like throwing gasoline on the determination fire. The second way to intentionally increase your level of determination is completely counterintuitive to the first.

In fact, it actually contradicts it. I love it when I contradict myself within a two-minute span on my podcast. As one of my favorite songs of 1988 says, I don't need permission, make my own decisions. It's my prerogative. So here goes, when you are relying on determination, you do not need to use your past to inform your future.

You can simply stay focused on the future. We do so much of this in coaching, staying focused on the future and creating then nearly any future that you say that you want. So, the first trick is to use your past to fuel your determination to show you how determined, what a determined MFR you already are.

And the second one is to not rely on that at all and just go forward and stay focused on the future. The third trick is to surround yourself with others who are successful in the area where you want to be successful. Seeing other amazing humans doing something similar to what you want can help you fuel your determination.

Unfortunately, most of us have been socialized to do just the opposite and get green with envy and jealousy. When I was early in my coaching journey, I read the phrase, jealousy is just a wish in disguise. I tried to look it up to see who to attribute it to, but I wasn't successful. So, if you find yourself jealous of others, figure out what about their life you are wishing for your life and then surround yourself with those people.

And instead of being jealous, actually cheer them on and allow them to cheer you on. And this just becomes whatever the opposite of a vicious cycle is. When you celebrate others, you start to see what they have created is possible for you too, and it leads to greater determination and your thinking becomes, why not me?

One of the books I read early in my coaching journey, circa 2018, is a book by Angela Duckworth called Grit. Admittedly, I have not read it in over five years, but I do remember being quite inspired by it. And it is often mentioned as a favorite in my coaching circles. So, if you want to do some self-study, Duckworth's book would be a good starting point.

If you are over self-study and you prefer more of a done with you method, I can help you. I can help you use determination as one of the main feelings that fuels you toward Your Favorite You. I can't imagine a more incredible goal. You likely have no clue what is possible for you, and I would love to help show you.

Book your consult with me so that we can talk about it. Go to, click on the work with me tab, and you will be directed to my calendar link. Let's use determination to do this. Okay, I hope that you enjoyed listening to this episode as much as I enjoyed delivering it to you. See y'all next week.

Hey, everybody, don't go quite yet. I want to let you know all the ways that you can work with me.

If you've been listening to this podcast and maybe especially you have listened to episodes where I interview my clients, and you are thinking like the older woman in the diner in the classic Meg Ryan, Billy Crystal film, When Harry Met Sally... In the film, Sally is proving a point to Harry by faking an orgasm while in public at a diner. Sally finishes, so to speak, and then takes a bite of her food. The older woman in the next booth says, "I'll have what she's having." If you've been thinking, "I'll have what she's having," this is your sign from the universe to schedule a consult with me.

I have a few spots available for one-on-one coaching with me. This is a space where I am laser focused on you and your brain for six months at a time. I will also be doing consults with women who want to join my next group coaching cohort, which will likely start in the spring of 2024. The way to contact me is to go to my website,, go to the Work with Me page and click book now to schedule your consult. I will look forward to hearing from you. Let's make 2024 your year ever as you become your favorite you.



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