Help! People say I give up too easily…

Question: Help! I have been told by my family and friends that I give up on my goals too easily and thus won’t be able to achieve anything in life. – Anon

Answer: Dear Anon, it seems that you get disheartened by the frustrations one often meets on the road to achieving something. Or you might be questioning your abilities when challenges come in front of you. Often when someone starts thinking that they do not have the required abilities to achieve what they started for or loses the motivation and energy to continue due to challenges, then they give up the chances of success in overcoming the difficulties and achieving success.

Therefore it is important to have clarity about your long term dreams and how your short term goals are connected to that. Pick up a paper and pen and note down all the reasons why you decided for a particular goal and how it will feel once you achieve it in future. Remind yourself these reasons whenever you feel de-motivated. Further, it is also important to accept beforehand itself that worthy goals are often difficult ones too, so that you are not surprised by challenges.

Question: How to keep going and keep myself motivated on the way? – ABC

Answer: Dear ABC, after selecting a goal, try to break it into smaller steps and sub-goals. Then start the journey using other supporting factors, such as, keeping a to-do checklist, a reminder etc. Reaching these sub-goals is a good time to celebrate and give yourself some small rewards. It is best to select these rewards as per your goal (for example: you can choose for yourself a new nice pen after completing a portion of your study subject). It is important to observe what motivates you and what distracts you about the goal. Some people are motivated by other people, some others by getting a feedback about their progress. Similarly other people’s push can be annoying for some people. Therefore make a strategy to enhance the motivating factors in your life and decrease the distractions.

Question: What if I fail in my goals? – Anonymous

Answer: Dear Anonymous, thinking about success can be motivating, but it can also hamper if you focus too much on the successful outcomes. Sometimes it decreases motivation to put efforts, and at other times it acts as a distraction and interferes in your performance. Therefore it is important to remember every outcome is a feedback to either continue what you are already doing, or to change something in the way you do things. Failure tells us that somewhere our skills, efforts, or motivation was not enough and we need to reflect. May be find reasons why to increase motivation, figure out ways to put in more efforts and also probably upgrade our skills. Sometimes when the goals are too large it also helps, if you have really done your best, to remind that some goals are supposed to be completed over long period of time, and every step on the way is progress. Think of new scientific discoveries, which happen after multiple labs around the world keep working on progressing a field for decades.

Question: How to know when to give up? – XYZ

Answer: Dear XYZ, sometimes it is important to figure out if you should give up. There are no special rules for it but flexibility in life is helpful. However, before giving up you have to think really hard and judge if it is about you, or about the goal. Whether you are a person who tends to give up often, or is this particular goal where you feel like giving up because it is not suited to you? If you generally tend to stick to your goals and your efforts in a particular area is not paying off, you have tried updating your skills, your motivations are low, your interest are in some other area and there are better avenues available, then it might be a good time to think of alternative goals. However, stay with the idea for sometime, since occasional doubts can come in the path of success. But if on an ongoing basis, the first thought you have in the morning is to give up on a goal, then new plans might be worth consideration. If you have given your best into something then take a stock of the situation, talk to your family, mentors and friends, jot down the reasons you wish to leave, make new goals and plans to stick with then, and progress further!


Expert: Dr Jyotsna Agrawal

Dr Jyotsna is assistant professor of Positive Psychology at the Dept. of Clinical

Psychology, NIMHANS, Bangalore