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I never complete things

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It may seem not a big thing to you but to me it is huge. All my life I’ve started projects, endeavors but seldom if ever has anything reached fufillment. I used to pride myself on my wide range of interests-I thought I was some kind of big intellect. Eventually though I began to suspect fear of success or some other motive was behind my constant leaving one thing for another. Or maybe in a way I was hoarding projects because if I finished something then that line of interest would be gone and I’d be left with emptyness. Maybe it’s not much that every room in the house has some unfinished element. Only half the trim has been put on and it’s been years since I started that. Or the ceiling only has primer on it-again started years ago. Or that custom car I was building never got done.

But when it comes to a big life project like becoming proficient with art or music or getting that career I always wanted then things get serious. The other day I heard musician Tom Petty say “I have a lot of energy-I work hard.” I can’t help but think there is something more to it than just sitting down everyday for four or five hours. The way I see it there can be blocks to working hard. Excuses seem to always come up. Now that I’m semi retired I have more time for piano, guitar, drawing etc. but I guess I need to pick priorities for my time and just force myself to get organized. I have yet, after years of fooling around with piano, to learn one piece completely. Now I’m getting into understanding Eienstein’s theory of relativity which by the way you can learn about without math and it’s very interesting for any common person who ponders time and the universe as I do.

I still have time to do some good work with music or art and earn some money with it. I want to sell a few pieces of art and I’d like to be able to play cocktail and jazz piano solo or with others. I’m at the intermediate level at best. I know I can be quite good if only I could discipline myself to work more efficiently. Strangely I have the ability to really focus and work for hours on somethng but it’s inconsistant.

I came across this website because I have a big interest in psychology and I thought the forum here might be helpful. I have a double BA in psych and human services. Another career goal that never went anywhere. I see careers and other large life interests as anchors that humans need if they are to avoid mental gremlins that can creep in over time. I have plenty of those and have had them since I was a boy. I have suffered from recurring depression but in this later stage of life that seems to have passed. My personality sucks in a lot of ways and a lot of people see that. I’m not saying I don’t have anything good in me however.

I can be happy basically but I see something more in my abilities and I want to get there. I don’t want to leave this life the way I am now. I want to go down feeling complete. Any help would be greatly appreciated! You’d be helping the whole world. Sometimes I think the Bee Gees wrote that song “I started a joke that started the whole world crying” about people like me.

I never complete things

Answered by on -


There’s something about turning 60 that makes a lot of people sit back and take stock. Some friends or acquaintances may be getting sick, even dying, which lends reality to the limits of our time. At 60, most people still have vitality and a good working mind but we don’t know when we’ll lose them. It isn’t as depressing as it sounds. It’s also motivating. It’s time to either come to terms with who we are or to make a push for change.

Those are your choices as well. You have spent your life as a generalist. You like a lot of things. You may have mastered none but you explored many, many interests and activities. One way to think about yourself is, in fact, complete. You’ve let yourself taste many things even though you never went for the whole meal. It’s a reasonable choice. You don’t need to frame it as a deficiency.

On the other hand, maybe there is a restlessness in you at this point. Perhaps you’d like to see what you’re really made of in terms of being able to master something. Now’s the time to try that out. You might find it instructive to read “Outliers: The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell. The book is a series of essays about how some people (some well-known, others not) became enormously successful in what they do.

If you want to complete something, I suggest you follow your passion and choose one thing. It could be finishing your house, or mastering the piano, or even working on your personality. Put real effort into it for a week and see how it feels. If you like it, give it another week. By giving yourself a new decision point at the end of each week, you will give yourself the chance to evaluate whether it is working for you and what, if any, adjustments you want to make.

Whether you live out your life as a generalist or as a master of something more narrow is a choice, not necessarily a problem. I hope you can find peace in whichever direction you want to go.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

I never complete things

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). I never complete things. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 15, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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