You have started a multitude of projects, took on hobbies, started a business or two, or tried to learn a foreign language, yet you end up eventually abandoning all these things. Why is that, you wonder? Why can't you stick to anything long enough to get good at it and see results? Or if you do have some initial success, why do you let it wane, and move on to something else? There are five things, either singly or in combination, that could be holding you back.
1. Internal Resistance
You may have unrecognized fears such as:
- The fear of being frustrated when things don't turn out perfectly the first time you do them, or when multiple attempts fail. Very few worthwhile things are created on the first try, but you know this already. You just need to develop persistence in your own endeavors.
- The fear of success, since you may be afraid you cannot live up to, or surpass initial successes. The chances are you will continue to experience successes, but whether you do or not, you develop many good qualities that could generalize into other areas of your life, by consistent practice.
- The fear of criticism by others. Most people who are quick to criticize your efforts to do something, are really fighting their own resistance to personal growth. You can have empathy for them, but not so much that you give up what you are doing to quell their fears.
- The fear of boredom setting in once you get proficient at something. The thing about boredom is that it ebbs and flows during any pursuit, so you have to accept this.
It would be beneficial for you to write out your thoughts, beliefs, and fears so that you can find ways to substitute more helpful thoughts when you experience fear and self-doubt. You might try daily free-writing. This quick uncensored writing done for several days in a row can lead you to some valuable insights about the subconscious things that could be holding you back.
2. Lack of Support and Encouragement
It is difficult to persevere when you face a dearth of support and encouragement from the people you care about. You may be close to someone, or have come from a family, that has been in a survival mode due to various factors for a long time. Bucking the trend can cause those people to feel uncomfortable.
The thing is, if you do work hard and consistently on projects, you are providing a good example to others. This may cause a few of your nay-sayers to eventually think about their own desires and work towards accomplishing something.
Whether they do or not, you would be adding meaning to your own life.
3. Lack of Patience
A lack of patience might be haunting you, but you won't overcome this and develop patience by continuing to give up on things. Try envisioning the long-range view; time is going to pass whether you steadily work towards your goals or not. Wouldn't you rather have the skills and accomplishments acquired over the years, than not? In the meantime, be sure to give yourself small rewards along the way.
4. Conflicts over What to Focus On
You may have an unresolved conflict on what to pursue. For example, you may want to study French, but you think that Spanish would be more useful where you live. Why not study them both? It may be confusing at first, but with steady practice you can overcome your confusion, and then you would satisfying both desires.
This might not be possible with everything. Decisions have to be weighed out and examined for costs and benefits. In general, if you like one thing more than the other thing, you will have more motivation to stick with it.
5. Suffering from an Un-diagnosed Mental/Emotional Condition
Finally, your inability to stick to something could be an indication that you have a mental condition that requires counseling and possibly medical treatment. You may not have full blown depression or bipolar disorder but the milder versions of these disorders, dysthymia and cyclothymia, could be at the root of your issues. Other conditions that cause difficulties with effective functioning include Adult ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and various personality disorders.
If you suspect you may have a mental or emotional problem, you should consult a psychiatrist like Kay M. Shilling MD PC. Even if you don't have one of these conditions, they can help and support you so that you can move forward with your interests.