10 Things to Try When You Feel Like Giving Up on Your Goals

Some Things Really Are Hard; Others Just Seem That Way

Everyone has down times, self-doubts, and we all have felt like giving up on something from time-to-time, but if these feelings last longer than a few days -- especially if you have suffered a recent hardship, loss, or other stressful situation call a therapist and seek professional help. 

Feelings of mental fatigue, sadness, guilt, or other negative emotions and thoughts for more than a few days may be signs of depression.  Depression does not mean simply feeling sad, it can also mean self-doubt, feeling powerless, and like nothing will ever change.  Depression is a serious condition that should be evaluated and treated only by a licensed medical professional.

For those times when you have just had a bad day, are too tired to care, or just feel like giving in to something you know you will regret later, go through the following list and ask yourself these important questions because sometimes, what is making you feel like giving up on something is not because it is hard, it is because you are thirsty, hungry, bored, stressed, tired, or just plain cranky. 

You won’t improve your mood by giving up, but you may be taking one of the following steps listed below.

Are you thirsty or dehydrated?

Drinking water can help you stay focused and on task.
Drinking water can help you stay focused and on task. GraphicStock

Drink a glass of water. Many people mistake thirst for hunger and their inability to focus or mood fluctuations are actually the result of thirst.  It won't hurt to try, and this quick and easy fix might just be all that you need in the moment to help you recharge your energy level.

Signs of dehydration include a dry mouth, sleepiness, feeling tired, being less active, dull headache, dizziness or lightheadedness, and constipation (which in itself can make you feel sluggish and tired not to mention cranky).

If you work inside a closed office building where the air is often dry, you will be more prone to hydration than if you were outside -- even if it feels cool inside.  Office workers also may be too focused to stop and take water breaks so it never hurts to try a small glass of water.

Have you eaten in the past three hours?

Healthy snack on a plate with veggies and meat to boost your mood.

Hunger can cause headaches and fatigue and if your blood sugar is low you may also be restless, irritable, shaky, and unable to think clearly. Eat a healthy snack that contains a good source of protein (a candy bar does not count as a health snack!)

Even if you do not have a diagnosed metabolic disorder that affects blood sugar and metabolism (i.e., type 2 diabetes),  you can still suffer from low blood sugar -- perhaps not low enough to be dangerous, but low enough to swing your mood to the 'running on empty' gauge. 

It takes 15-20 minutes after eating to restore blood sugars so eat, wait, and see if you feel any better within half an hour after eating.  If you do, you may also wish to talk with your doctor about hyperglycemia (low blood sugar) to rule out any medical problems.

Have you taken a walk lately?

Talking a short, brisk walk can do wonders to improve your outlook.
Talking a short, brisk walk can do wonders to improve your outlook. GraphicStock

If not, now is a great time to move around a bit. If you do not have the energy to run or do a full-on workout, take a stroll around the block.  If the weather is bad (and you don’t enjoy walking in inclement weather) go walk around an indoor mall, but do try to get out.

If you feel like being alone, take some headphones and music for company.  If you want company, grab another co-worker or pal and take a brief stroll.  If it helps, maybe you can make it a regular thing and walking will become proactive as well as therapeutic.

Did you get dressed today?

Brushing your hair can make you feel better about yourself.
Brushing your hair can make you feel better about yourself and your day. GraphicStock

 If not, go put on some clean clothes.  People who work from home and stay-at-home parents can find it all too easy to slip into the rut of not changing out of pajamas.  Get dressed and feel more like part of the rest of the world!

Also, take a few minutes to do the basics in self-care: wash your face, brush your teeth, brush your hair. and if it normally makes you feel good -- put on a little makeup just for yourself!

Have you started new or changed other medications recently?

Changes in medications and new medications can affect your mood.
Changes in medications and new medications can affect your mood. GraphicStock

Call your doctor; you may be experiencing side effects that he/she can help you with by changing doses, timing, or the medication itself.

Even if you do not feel like your medications have affected you and others around you are saying you are not yourself, you may still want to check in with your doctor.

Do you feel ineffective or powerless?

Feeling powerless can be a warning sign of depression.
Feeling powerless can be a warning sign of depression. GraphicStock

Both of these feelings often stem from not being able to accomplish something.  Pick one small “open loop” item in the back of your mind that you can do right now whether it is laundry, writing a thank you note, or just taking the kids to the park.  Setting your mind to doing something and then following through can recharge your sense of power.

It is important to note that feeling powerless is one sign of clinical depression.  Seek help immediately if you feel like harming yourself or if this feeling lasts more than a few days.

Are you crippled by indecisiveness?

Signs of confusion
Some choices really are hard; others just seem that way. GraphicStock

Being unable to make decisions can stem from stress, medical conditions, or medications.  If you are struggling with any of those things, things talk to your doctor or a therapist as soon as you can. 

If a particular decision is a roadblock then put it aside for now.  Some decisions need lots of time and consideration; others do not.

Focus on small decisions and map out some small or short-term goals to things you can accomplish.  This can be as simple as making a grocery list or planning meals for the week or even balancing your checkbook.  Just set your mind to a task and do it — and then take credit for it!

Are you getting enough sleep (or too much sleep)?

Not getting enough sleep can leave you exhausted and unable to cope.
Not getting enough sleep makes it harder to cope.

Most adults need about 8 hours of good sleep each night — not much more and not much less. 

If you suffer from insomnia talk to your doctor as soon as you can for advice.  Cut back on (or eliminate) caffeine, and if you suffer from sleep apnea and are feeling exhausted call your doctor today.  Left untreated, sleep disorders can lead to medical problems like diabetes.

Are you feeling listless and bored?

Boredom at work makes for a long work day.
Boredom is a spell that can be broken. GraphicStock

You need something to focus your attention on.  Pick up that book you have been meaning to read, writer a letter to an old friend, or better, call an old friend.  You don’t even have to involve someone else in order to break that feeling of boredom take yourself to a museum, art gallery, or movie. 

If none of those things are of interest go do a workout; exercise can be a tremendous mood lifter! 

If your inability to concentrate makes it impossible to get things done much of the time talk to a doctor about attention deficit disorder in adults.

Do you lack a sense of self-worth or have low self-esteem?

Low self-esteem can make you feel like you are alone.

Oftentimes we give up on goals that involve our own best interests long before we quit on things that benefit other people.  Self-sacrifice is only noble to a point.  If you are putting your needs below those of others because you feel unworthy that is not self-sacrifice for noble reasons it is forfeiting your own needs based on low self-esteem.

If you suffer from low self-esteem it is important that you surround yourself with positive people and not those who put you down or devalue you or your ideas. 

If you are feeling isolated or lacking purpose, volunteer to help with a favorite cause.  You will meet new people, feel connected to something important, and feel good for being a volunteer making a difference!

Before You Giveup Always at Least Try Something Else First

Some things really are hard; others just seem that way. If you give up you will find it easier to give up the next time something presents a challenge. If you are struggling with a goal or project, or the routine stresses of the day, step back and take a moment to look outside the problem itself and look for new solutions instead. If you are not eating, drinking, and taking moments (sanity breaks) for yourself, it is not surprising that even little things can seem like major obstacles to overcome.