My entire life I have struggled to complete things. I have always been very ambitious but the follow through has been extremely difficult. It is not that I want to fail to finish what I start but I have wondered for many years what I could do to help with my completion rate. There is of course those that would tell me to simply get it together and push through. That is solid advice admittedly but because I am still struggling it has obviously not worked for me. Then there are the people that would question the reasoning behind my lack of follow through. These are people like my mom and friends that look for the feeling behind the action. I have become one of these individuals as well in recent years.
Looking back over my life I can truthfully say that I have fought this war between ambition and completion for as long as I can remember. I played sports most of my adolescent life however I never stuck with one more than a few years. It was like a form of ADD because I would be in the middle of a game of soccer and see a team playing softball across the park. Suddenly I just had to play softball. The next summer as the games began I would go to the beach and see kayakers out in the water and I had to start kayaking. The list of hobbies and attempted sports was nearly endless. Then I got older and school began to have sign ups and tryouts for all of the teams. I was suddenly dancing, diving, swimming and doing gymnastics. That was just my freshman year. I also joined the drill team with the marching band and still had to find time for my friends and summer job.
There really is no question why my grades began to suffer. I almost didn't even graduate. My senior year I had to take summer school and an independent study in order to complete the core requirements because I had either not been able to stay focused in class or had done an alternative class instead. I loved my dance and Japanese classes but I took Visual Basic Programing, Telecommunications and Media instead of traditional English courses. Math I hated even though I did rather well in it. Science was a crap shoot for me, Physics was interesting but Biology put me to sleep. I did manage to get my diploma but it was a battle everyday.
Writing and dance were the two things I was sure I would follow through with but as I got older and the world of dance became more competitive I began to back away never reaching that next level I know deep down I had the talent to achieve. I was scared. What if I wasn't good enough? What if I went out on that stage and got laughed back off. I was terrified of never reaching my goal so I quit before someone else could tell me I failed. Writing became the same thing. I took a nearly decade long hiatus before I finished writing my first novel. I knew the story inside and out but the fear of mediocrity and rejection kept me from writing it down. Even though I finally did and I began submitting it I was scared every time I opened the mailbox.
Now I find that there is a second distraction for my writing. Yes I still fear rejection but I find the ADD aspect of my life has returned. I will be working hard on a book when a new character pops in to say hello. Like candy for children the new character will lure me away from my current focus offering me adventures and thrills I am not experiencing at that moment. They are a shiny new toy for me to play with and I find myself torn between the two projects. Partially I blame this on the fear of rejection. If I don't complete something then I never have to revise, edit and submit it. I am also easily distracted however and my mind is the worst culprit of all when it comes to causing my loss of attention.
I have worked hard to bring myself on being more focused. I am still learning to deal with my dedication issues. All of this got me wondering though. What distracts you? Do you ever feel torn or are you able to concentrate on one thing at a time cranking out project after project? What exercises do you do in order to improve your mental focus?