Psych Central

Can’t Finish Anything I Start

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

This issue started a long time ago: anything i start whether its a puzzle, A game or even a social relationship. I’m 16 years old i got no friends and no hobbies. i am seeing a psychologist and a psychiatrist. i got a social phobia even though people at my school are trying to befriends with me but i seem to consistency pushing them away. not on purpose of course. i really want to do something with my life but have no idea what. When I asked my psychologist what can i do about it he said there is no solution. i use to play guitar and violin but i quitted both. what should i do in order to finish the things that i do?

A. You are concerned that your inability to finish a particular activity is a problem. It may not be. Maybe you just become uninterested in a particular hobby or activity. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It could mean that it simply does not interest you. That’s okay. Knowing what disinterests you is equally as important as knowing what interests you.

It is common for people to begin new activities and not stick with them. Diets are a good example of this. Many people begin diets and after a few weeks (oftentimes sooner) return to their usual eating habits. Hobbies are similar in this way. What may seem like a great or fun idea at first may soon turn into a chore. People lose interest or lack the time or energy to devote to a hobby. Put simply; you don’t know what you will really like until you try it.

From a developmental perspective, you may be doing what you should be at this stage in your life. According to Erik Erickson’s psychosocial developmental theory, you may be experiencing the “identity versus identity confusion” stage. This stage generally occurs in one’s high school years. At this stage in life, individuals are attempting to find their own identity. This entails trying many new things to learn what one finds interesting, fun or motivating, and so forth. During this time, it is expected that individuals engage in many activities or hobbies. No one will like everything they try. This is completely normal and healthy. The goal for this stage is for an individual to find their own identity and ultimately to become independent thinkers. If an individual is unsuccessful at this stage, he or she will experience “role confusion.” This essentially means that an individual is uncertain of their identity.

Another possible explanation for your problem, though unlikely, is that you have a mental health condition such as attention deficit disorder (ADD). Perhaps you could speak to your psychiatrist about this possibility. There may be a medication or a specific type of therapy that could assist you with attention difficulties.

You mentioned that you have social phobia. I’m not certain if you meant that you were diagnosed with social phobia or if this is a phrase you used to describe difficulty developing relationships. If it is the latter, it too may be associated with the “identity versus identity confusion” stage. Part of this stage involves struggling with social interaction and moving from one group of friends to another.

I would highly recommend speaking with your psychologist about these issues. If you are having difficulty, he or she could assist you in many various ways including (and hopefully not limited to) teaching you social skills to improve your social interaction.

Another idea is to speak with a career counselor at your high school. He or she may have access to career or personality tests that can help narrow down your interests or match you to a career. Many students find these tests very helpful and effective. I wish you well. Please take care.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 2 Sep 2010

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2010). Can’t Finish Anything I Start. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/09/02/cant-finish-anything-i-start/