I have a persistence problem

Since I started this website a little over a week and a half ago, I’ve been expanding on it bit-by-bit. I intentionally decided to purchase a plan through DigitalOcean, costing around $5.00 USD a month. The hosting plan may seem like a bit much to those who have their own websites. However, I don’t just have one website through DigitalOcean. I have my own server space. It’s on what is called a “shared” server. A shared server is the opposite of a “dedicated” server, which is essentially your own box in a server farm somewhere. I own the information on part of a server, essentially. It’s very safe, however, and I’ve done my homework to keep everything secure. But, why does all of this matter?

Well, I have always had trouble following through and following up on different things.

  • Formal piano lessons — 3 attempts
  • Taekwondo — 1 attempt
  • Guitar lessons — 1 attempt
  • Scuba lessons — 1 attempt
  • Skiing — 1 attempt
  • Reading the whole Bible in a year — 3 attempts
  • Reading the whole New Testament in a month — 1 attempt
  • Reading the Book of Concord in a month — 1 attempt
  • Learning Yiddish — 1 attempt
  • Learning Mon — 1/2 of an attempt
  • Learning Urdu — delayed due to COVID-19
  • Getting into a PhD program — 1 attempt

There are so many things in my life that I look back upon and think, “wow. I could have achieved so much more if I were as persistent with some areas as I am with others.” Some items on that list were failed attempts due to specific circumstances of the time, like learning Yiddish, Mon, or Urdu. Other attempts were inhibited by fear or self-perceived inability, such as skiing or scuba lessons. Others were just bad luck, like the PhD attempt. Bible reading failed because I didn’t manage my time well nor prioritize it. But the piano, guitar, and taekwondo can be summed up simply as “failed due to lack of persistence and motivation.”

I should clarify that I still play guitar and piano and I teach myself little tricks and do-dats here and there. One of my teachers thought it was good for me to encourage myself to play something, so I can feel like playing an instrument was fun rather than a chore. I’m glad he helped me to see that and I’m forever grateful to him for teaching me how to read a leadsheet. Still, it pains me that I can look at a simple piece by Mozart and can hear the melody and harmony in my head. I can even sight-read the piece with each hand playing separately. I try to play with my hands together, though and it falls apart. My biggest problem is that I often disappoint myself so much that I can’t get past my pitfalls. A part of me knows that all I have to do is keep practicing. “Play the piece slowly,” my teacher would say. “I’d rather you play it as slow as possible with every note correct than try to play it at tempo and make tons of mistakes.” My problem was that I was impatient with myself. I wanted results and I seemed to think that because I knew people who could sight-read well without much formal training, I could do the same if I just… I don’t know… Willed it enough?

Accompanying a friend in his basement, back in 2012

I suppose one issue is that I didn’t know how to limit myself. I suppose I still don’t. One difference, of course, is that I’m older now. I may not be wiser than I was, but I’m certainly older. If Boomers are infamous for saying one thing, it’s, “I can tell you this with authority, because I know more than you! Why do I know more than you? Because I’m older and I’ve been around longer.” The only logical fallacy I see in that argument is it assumes that because one has been alive longer they’ve actually accomplished more or have done more. I could build a scarecrow argument of a person who has lived on this green earth for fifty years, yet, lives a sheltered life and wastes away. This scarecrow has never traveled. This scarecrow has never slept in the woods. This scarecrow has never ridden on the back of a supply truck to make their plane in time, due to a short supply of buses. (That was in India, by the way.)

So, at the same time, I have to appreciate that I’ve accomplished a lot. I may not have accomplished everything that seems important to me, but I’ve done a lot. As for the website and the $5.00 USD a month mention at the top, I basically use the money as a motivator to keep making use out of the website. Although I’ve been taught to avoid the sunk cost fallacy, I believe it’s still a good practice to use what I am paying for.

I also need to be okay with not always finishing what I start. I am only twenty-six and I have plenty of hours ahead of me to finish certain goals and tasks. I suppose I’ll come back and read this post every now again, during those times I feel discouraged.

Thanks for reading.

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