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When to give up

POSTED ON 24.07.2017

I’ve had a bit of a writer’s block recently. It’s actually probably been the worst I’ve experienced since I began this blog. It all started because I decided before the summer holidays began that I was going to work on a really ambitious fictional project and I was going to complete it before I went back to university in September.

Needless to say I started it really well in the sense that I was consistently working on it. But it wasn’t well planned out and it was definitely over ambitious and after about a month of working on it I realised that there was just no joy in it. I’ve worked really hard to change my own view of myself as someone who doesn’t finish what she starts, so when I realised it really, really wasn’t working out I panicked.

I continued to work on it, and flog it, to the point where I actually dreaded the day starting because I was hating it so much. Ridiculous, I know.

When I finally decided to call it a day (after googling: how to know when to give up on a project) I went into a minor crisis. Again, ridiculous, I know. But I’d decided I was going to complete the monstrosity of a task and I was 1. disappointed with myself for stopping, 2. relieved I’d stopped because I genuinely was not enjoying myself, 3. so exhausted from the flogging that all I wanted to do (and admittedly did do a few times) was play Tetris on my phone. The mix of emotions I was feeling completely drained me. I had no energy to read any of the books I have on my kindle. I had no motivation to write on my blog which caused me to question whether I should keep going, or whether this is another project I should give up on.

So, without further ado, (or rambling), I’m going to share a few of my thoughts on how to know when to give up on a project (or whatever it is you’re considering giving up on) because I didn’t find google very helpful at all in this matter. When to give up:

  1. There’s no joy in it. Sometimes there’s no joy in something and it’s just a phase. Often hard work isn’t particularly joyous, but usually once you’ve finished a really hard session or exam or chapter, whatever it is, the sense of accomplishment or satisfaction you feel when you’re done fills you with joy. People tell me that it can be like that for cooking, and although I’ve never been in that position myself after making a plate of pasta, I do feel it when I’ve made a cake that I know is perfect.
  2. You aren’t proud of it. Whether you are naturally talented at something or not, if you look at what you’re doing, or even your relationship, and you aren’t overwhelmed with pride, then there’s probably something wrong. I’ve been extremely proud of mediocre work before because I’ve known that it meant improvement or I was aware of the effort that went in, but generally speaking, when I’ve produced something fabulous, I can’t wait to show people. I even emailed my sister one of my academic essays to read this year because I was so proud of it (and bless her, she actually read it and gave me feedback!) Needless to say that was the best essay I wrote during the entire year.
  3. You see no future in it. The more I write here, the more I realise these points can be applied to almost anything. I remember when Marco was doing a communications course at university and absolutely hating every minute of it. When he eventually decided to call it a day it was because there really was no future in it for him. Anyone who knows him now knows that software development couldn’t be a better fit for him.
  4. There’s no connection. I don’t want to go to emotional or airy-fairy here, but if there is no connection, it’s probably not going to work out. For something to be a success, you have to be passionate about it. Marco and I often discuss the talent vs. hard work issue: does success depend more on natural talent or more on hard work? My idea on this is that there has to be a bit of talent of course, but mostly there has to be an abundance of passion. Because when you’re passionate about something, you’re willing to work hard on it – and that’s the best way to make a success of it.

As a person who used to make any excuse under the sun to give up on something I just didn’t feel like doing, or was too lazy to see through, I’m internally arguing with myself as I write. However, as a person who now struggles to give up because I’m scared it will define who I am, I know these points are valid. Making excuses to give up on something, no matter what it is, relationship, degree, project, job, just because it’s tough is not a good idea at all. But there are times when it’s ok to cut ourselves some slack and say, you know what, this just isn’t working out.

I did that and I’m glad I did. I did have to limit it just to that project because I started thinking about giving up on everything. But with some rational thought, and some time, it was clear to me what needed to go and what’s going to stay.

One last and important point that I want to add here is that when you spend resources and energy pouring into projects that aren’t bringing you any satisfaction or personal or professional fulfilment, you take away from other areas that could be using that mental space. We all have a limited amount of resources to give and we should choose how we use them wisely!

I hope this has been helpful. As always I love hearing your feedback/ thoughts, so feel free to reach out.


p.s. The cardigan and cami I’ve got on in the picture are from my mom’s new shop grazia.ie. The quality is absolutely beautiful- I definitely recommend it (and not just because I’m biased)!