Have you ever started a project or begun to pursue a goal and given up? Pretty much everyone has. That’s why the gym is about half as crowded in March as in January. Whether it’s a broken New Years resolution, half-remodeled room in the house, or the book that you almost wrote, there is probably a trail of unfinished projects that you started on that you never completed.
Investing in a project is challenging. It takes planning, time, and effort. It is almost never as fun or rewarding as you think it will be when you start. This is why it so often happens that you give up instead of pushing through and completing your goal.
There is often guilt that comes for leaving a job undone. But by giving up you are avoiding the challenge of the project. If you stop going to the gym, you no longer have to push yourself to exercise and then get sore afterwards. If you give up taking an online course, you have more time to dedicate to other things. If you abandon an idea for a new business that you want to start, you will never face the risk of failure.
Who’s got time for that?
Most meaningful projects and goals take time. It takes time to make a plan and figure out how you will achieve what you set your mind to. If you are building a new table for the living room, it takes time to find a good tutorial, figure out exactly how to put everything together, and then buy the materials before you can even get started.
At the onset of a goal, we often neglect to take into consideration just how long it will take to complete it. Learning a new instrument sounds simple enough when you start. You get excited researching exactly what you need to buy to get started, but then you realize that you don’t know what you’re doing. So you learn. You find YouTube videos explaining how to tune it and play some simple songs. But you’re not content with the simple songs, you want to play the exotic solos or complex melodies. So you have to practice. And practice. And practice. And practice.
However, if you give up somewhere along the process, suddenly you have all the time you would have spent learning and practicing to use for something else easier. You can listen to someone else’s music instead or just sit on the couch and watch Netflix.
Hiking Downhill is Easier Than Uphill
Projects are usually a lot more challenging than you realize at the start. There are complications that arise and tasks that you do not know how to do. You often end up having to spend time on things that you weren’t planning on originally, and in the end, it may fail anyway.
If you set the goal to write a book and have it published, it seems simple enough. Sit down with a computer and type your idea. On the surface it is that easy, and that is a good start to the project. But then you need to edit it, re-word it, make sure the ideas are cohesive, check for errors, and get feedback from others. These are each difficult tasks, each with their own unique challenges and uphill battles that you have to fight.
After you finally are satisfied with your manuscript, you have to submit it to publishers and hope that someone bites. In the end, your finished book may not even be published, so why even try? It would be easier to give up once things got hard.
Sure, it’s possible that you will succeed and your book will become popular. Or even if you don’t get published you learn things to use if you want to try again, but that requires going through the same challenges again.
Almost any goal you set your mind to will have challenges along the way. Some say that it makes success even more satisfying, but it also makes the journey uncomfortable and difficult.
Throwing in the Towel
Don’t be ashamed for giving up. Setting lofty goals and working on meaningful projects is time-consuming. It takes time to plan, prepare, and execute to accomplish what you want to. Usually it takes at least twice as long as you initially expected. You could be using that time for relaxing and doing something you enjoy.
Following through on your goals and projects is challenging, and there is often no guarantee that you will succeed. The safer course of action is to avoid the challenge entirely.
Don’t feel guilty for throwing in the towel. Embrace it.