Why Am I Having So Much Trouble Sticking to My Goals?

All this watching is keeping me from doing.

JoAnna Schindler
4 min readMar 11, 2021

Dance cardio, roller skating, coffee brewing — these are some of the hobbies that I dabbled in to keep myself afloat in 2020. In retrospect, I can see how these hobbies came and went like seasons, each with laughably short lifespans — but in the moment, each pastime captivated me like a hot new love interest.

In October, my Instagram feed overflowed with quad skaters. I compulsively checked skate shops for restocks and stayed up past midnight watching YouTube tutorials. Whenever I could find a spare moment, I’d be in the parking garage downstairs, wobbling, rolling, gliding in my baby blue Impalas. I posted about my latest obsession on social media. Look at me! I skate now!!

By January, my skates were collecting dust.

I’m not typically a flighty person. I practiced violin nearly every day between ages five to seventeen. I’ve worked at the same company for most of my post-grad career. I exercise daily. Oh, and I’m a textbook serial monogamist. Commitment and discipline are my jam!

Or so I thought, until I noticed that this flightiness had begun to infiltrate my writing endeavors. I have a graveyard of blogs and novels that I abandoned before they had a chance to grow out of their ugly infant stages. Friends and family would follow along, checking in — How’s the novel? When’s the next blog post? But by the time they’d ask again, I’d be onto the next thing. All this talk with no word count to back it up.

So I had to stop and ponder: why am I having so much trouble sticking to these goals?

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

I probably wouldn’t have ordered a pair of skates if I hadn’t seen so many skating reels on Instagram. Thanks to the algorithm, the more skate videos I viewed, the more I saw, until it seemed like everyone could skate and that I was the outlier for having no skill. I followed “skate journals” on IG, growing frustrated that I couldn’t unlock basic moves as quickly as others did. After weeks of trying, I still couldn’t execute a simple transition, let alone break without eating shit. I thought, if all these skaters could cruise backwards by day three, maybe I’m not cut out for this.

I’d forgotten that social media warps our sense of scale. Twitter makes it seem like everyone in the world is talking about the same scandal. Instagram makes it seem like everyone is prettier than you. Facebook makes it seem like everyone is getting engaged or married or pregnant. We look at our feeds and think we’re looking at the whole world outside our four walls, but really, it’s a tiny slice, tailored to our interests and ideologies, filtered and curated. That video of a skater, cartwheeling into a bowl? One take of many, after months of practice. For every expert, there’s a ton of clumsy, slow-moving newbies like me, and not all of them are documenting their progress online.

We can find inspiration and education in others, but we don’t have to use someone else’s success as a measure of our own.

The grueling work of learning a new skill or getting a project off the ground isn’t always “Instagramable.” I understand why many people don’t post these unglamorous moments online. For one, we don’t have to broadcast our growth to make it worthwhile. Plus, there’s something to be said about doing the work in private, to give yourself a chance to develop without the judgments and expectations of others.

I’ve become so fixated on outcomes that I’ve lost sight of the process — and, in turn, I’ve lost my patience. A while back, a friend of mine said, “You wouldn’t compare a two-year-old to a twenty-year-old, would you?” The question sounds ridiculous, and that’s precisely the point. As we admire the masters of our craft, whatever it may be, it’s important to remember that we’re all at different stages in our respective journeys.

And though we may share the same craft as these masters, we may not share the same goals. When it came to skating, I realized that I’d gotten so caught up with what I couldn’t do that I’d forgotten what I wanted to do. I didn’t actually want to learn how to cartwheel into a bowl! I simply wanted to be able to roll down a boardwalk under the summer sun without falling every five seconds. We can find inspiration and education in others, but we don’t have to use someone else’s success as a measure of our own.

Though I discovered my passion for writing long before I joined social media, my writerly aspirations aren’t immune to its influence. I follow A LOT of writers online. Journalists, novelists, and poets fill my feeds with enlightening, inspiring, and insightful content. That said, my curated network makes it seem like everyone has bylines and bestsellers — except me. Sometimes I feel silly, calling myself a “writer” amongst all these published, award-winning writers with their massive Twitter followings and MFAs. The pressure I feel to be like them distracts me from my actual objectives and intentions.

So I must remind myself:

  1. I’m just getting started.
  2. These writers make up a slice, not the whole damn pie.
  3. My goal isn’t to be recognized as a real writer by an institution or the masses. My goal is to write.



JoAnna Schindler

Writer & technology professional, based in Los Angeles | I also write at jomiyoko.blog