Meditation – Giving Up

As I revisit a project which I initiated some time ago but have long since neglected, I have a question on my mind: Why do we give things up?

The project I started – let’s call it Project F – was something I set for myself. It is enjoyable yet challenging enough to keep me engaged. It complements my knowledge and skills perfectly. It isn’t expensive; it doesn’t need costly tools, resources, or specific conditions; I can work on it at any time and place. Generally, its completion is not dependent on anything or anyone other than my own effort and commitment. The stakes are low, whilst the reward (albeit intrinsic) is high. It sounds like the perfect project, right? Yet, progress has been mega slow. In fact, for several months, I forgot about Project F entirely. If progress was shaped as a human, it would be an amnesia prone, ninety-eight-year-old arthritic, hobbling across a perfect, empty bridge.

There’s a pile of reasons why we neglect projects or give them up entirely, but after some contemplation, I believe there are three reasons that stand out big for being the most common. We give up, or lose momentum because, maybe…

They’re too hard
They don’t seem like a good idea anymore
More important things overtake them

At this point, it’s worthwhile to note that I’m not referring to projects at work or home, which have deadlines and dependencies and stakeholders, but rather self-set projects that pertain to personal development and learning. Unvital things that we decide to do in addition to the things we need to do. I suppose activities and hobbies could come into this discussion, too. This blog, for instance, is such a thing; the impact of me never again publishing another post would be minimal. Me and a few readers might simply understand that a classic case of ‘giving up’ had occurred – that’s all.

Being a naturally curious and ambitious person, I have started many ventures. Unfortunately, that also means that I have given up many ventures. That said, giving up is not something I take lightly. If you’re familiar with me at all, it will come as no surprise that I firmly believe in the importance of listening to your inner guide, which often points the way forward (or out). Certain things should not be continued. Some things should be abandoned; the trade-offs and pay-offs being completely out of balance. And sometimes, giving up doesn’t necessarily mean quitting, but moving on. Indeed, some doors must close for others to open.       

Those of us who have spent time getting to know ourselves and trust our judgement are often the most adept at knowing when to let go and when to persist with things. The three reasons identified above can either be simplistic excuses or legitimate reasons in their own right. To figure out which category they fall under, there are other, harder questions to honestly ask oneself — ones which I might meditate on at another time, though I think your instincts might know best what they are.    

The twist is, instincts can be wonky. Our inner guides may lead us back towards the very thing they led us away from. Yesterday, I sat down with a clear head and got back to work on Project F. And with a fire in me to continue. Who knows why. There are times for questions, and there are times for action.