The Case for Giving Up

I think you’re going to be surprised by this: I can make a serious case for just throwing up your hands and formally giving up on following through.  

OK, let me explain.

I know from my experience as a clinical psychologist that people who carry around lots of failed intentions tend to be quite miserable. And I’m convinced that the better we are at acting in accord with our own good intentions, the more personal satisfaction we’ll likely to enjoy.

That’s why it makes logical sense to become as good as you possibly can at doing whatever you intend to do. And that’s exactly why we created the Power to Follow Through.   

The promise to end all promises

But at least in theory, there’s another way to prevent poor follow through from wreaking havoc on your personal satisfaction. You could prevent poor follow through entirely by giving up on adopting intentions in the first place!

That’s right, you could just make and keep one last promise that would get you off the hook forever: “I promise not to make any more promises to myself. Ever!”

So, if your follow through batting average is decidedly poor and you’re truly unwilling or unable to get better at following through, I would argue that formally waving the white flag is an altogether defensible way of keeping your personal satisfaction out of the gutter.

Of course, it’s probably even hard to imagine what life would be like if you were to suddenly stop intending and instead just let your behavior rip, that is, if you were to just do whatever you feel like doing whenever you feel like doing it. For sure, life without intentions would be mighty chaotic. But there’d be no more of that pesky discrepancy between what you intend to do and what you actually do. Yes, poor follow through would finally become a thing of the past.

Am I serious?

If you’re wondering if I’m really serious about this, the answer is “No, of course not!” I was just hoping that imagining giving up on following through might re-energize your commitment to do better at it.

You can’t blame a guy for trying, right?