How To Stop Feeling Guilty about New Interests
Photo courtesy of Andrea Schaffer.

How To Stop Feeling Guilty about New Interests

Being a multipotentialite is great, but even if you recognize the benefits that come with being interested in many things, you’re probably only too familiar with the negative emotions that come with not being able to stick to one thing.

There you are, bumbling along, excited about the project you’re working on, and then WHAM! Suddenly you’re hit by a shiny new interest or idea, and you have a hard time keeping your attention on the thing you’re currently working on.

After battling for a while to keep your old passion going, you eventually admit defeat, drop it, and go after your new interest.

Starting the new project is really exciting, but it’s kind of tarnished with the disappointment you feel at not sticking to your old interest. You feel guilty, your confidence is knocked, and you reinforce the belief that you’re a quitter.

How To Stop Feeling Guilty

The problem in this situation isn’t so much our changing interests as it is the feelings and beliefs we associate with these changes.

Starting a new project or picking up a new skill is fun, but we don’t let ourselves enjoy it because we believe we should feel bad about dropping our old ones. It’s the result of growing up in a world that favors specialists.

Struggling on with this cycle of resistance and disappointment is exhausting. It leaves you feeling bad about yourself, forcing yourself to do things you hate, and wondering when the cycle will stop.

What if, instead of struggling on, you could get rid of the guilt and enjoy your new interests? What if you didn’t have to feel bad about quitting?

The good news is that you can. And not by changing yourself or your multipotentialite patterns, but by changing your mindset. Here’s how to do just that.

Accept your multipotentiality

Stop trying to change the way things are, the way you are. Stop trying to resist your change in focus.

Instead, accept that you are a multipotentialite. Accept that you will always lose interest in old hobbies and get excited by new ones. Acknowledge this as a fact about yourself.

Expect your interest to wane

Instead of being surprised every time you lose interest in a topic, expect that shift. Know that, after putting in a certain amount of time or effort, or reaching a certain level, your interest will wane.

Enjoy an interest while it’s there, but plan for its disappearance. Keep a would-like-to-learn-list or a bucket list. Get hold of a copy of the evening classes at your local college. Jot down ideas for future projects. Be prepared, so that, when the time comes, you can move onto something else straightaway.

Throw yourself into your new interests

When a new interest does come along, let yourself enjoy it. Instead of resisting and resenting it, allow yourself to be excited by it.

Let yourself dive right into it. Get a load of books out of the library. Sign up to a class. Subscribe to lots of blogs. Don’t hold back out of guilt.

If you feel sad about dropping your old interest, tell yourself you’ll come back to it in the future. You could even put a reminder in your journal to check in with yourself at a later date to see if you’re ready to go back to it yet. It’ll still be there when you want it.

Let Go

You don’t have to stop leaving things behind to feel good about yourself. You just have to understand that this is how you function, anticipate change, and go with the flow when it changes direction. It’ll feel so much better, I promise.

Your Turn

Do you try to make yourself stick with interests that no longer do anything for you? Have you found a way to stop feeling guilty about your changing interests?

jo_authorbioJoanna L K Moore (Jo) is a thinker, writer, maker, and doer. She writes about self-awareness and living a life that suits who you are at JoannaLKMoore.com. A multipotentialite through and through, Jo’s also a linguist, a runner, a powerlifter, a virtual assistant, the creator of DIY Self-Esteem: How To Start Liking Yourself, and an aspiring LGBT chick lit author.

28 Comments

  1. Johoanna says:

    Great post! It’s hard to not feel guilty about dropping an interest. Early last year I spent quite a bit of money on a ridged heddle loom. At the time I was involved in a local re-enactment group and wanted to weave my own fabric. So I bought the loom. Well, I left the re-enactment group for various reasons so I started to use the loom for making wall hangings. Those wall hangings are packed away in a box and I haven’t unpacked the loom since moving in April. I might get back to it, but it won’t be any time soon. Maybe in a couple of years. I don’t feel guilty because that’s just the way my life goes. Some things I come back to, others I don’t. It’s not worth feeling guilty over. I’d rather enjoy my life and the many interests that I have. :-)

    • Joanna Moore says:

      That’s a good point – it’s not worth it. This is something I’m learning at the moment. I have a tendency to think I shouldn’t spend money on any of my projects, unless they’re likely to make me money. That’s just silly! They’re hobbies and they make me happy, so it’s money well spent! As long as it makes you happy, it’s all good!

      • Nicole says:

        I can so relate to the financial consideration… after a year of doing one sport, buying equipment, taking lessons, paying membership fees, etc, I ALWAYS pick up interest in something else and move on. Or after taking a course to learn something new I find myself not wanting to take it to the next level – it’s like my ITCH was scratched and I’m satisfied and want to move on.

        • Joanna Moore says:

          I guess the first part is definitely just understanding that that’s how you function though. Once you’ve done that, you can accept that that’s the way it is, and either be ok with spending the money and moving on, or limit the amount you spend, if that’s what you want to do.

  2. Clive Dyson says:

    Jo this article is so true and it is very easy to feel guilty about dropping one interest and moving on to another. This guilt is heightened if you have spent a lot of money on equipment or other stuff to pursue the interest you have just dropped. This guilt tempers me from spending too much on the new interest as I know that I will change soon. I have noticed though that my interests do tend to be cyclical and while I stop one interest I usually will come back to it at a later time with renewed vigour.

    • Gaby says:

      I’m the same way, money & guilt go hand in hand when it comes to investing in a new interest or new equipment. It also helps me narrow down what is worth investing in, versus something I just have a passing interest in. I have a ton of interests, yet a finite amount of time & money. Also I tend to be cyclical with my interests as well, and they end up overlapping each other, which sometimes requires new equipment & time to manage it. :)

      • Joanna Moore says:

        Your comment made me wonder if some multipotentialites are more drawn to “cheaper” hobbies, like writing, and if some are more drawn to expensive ones like playing musical instruments and doing extreme sports. Luckily I think most of mine are on the cheap side because they don’t require much in the way of equipment.

    • Joanna Moore says:

      It’s good to know that you have a cycle then. I need to pay more attention to my patterns to see what they’re like. :-)

  3. Debi says:

    I really needed this message today. I like learning “just to learn” and recently completed Massage Therapy school because it was something I’d always wanted to do. I have my license and see a few people but no longer have any real desire to “push” things forward and make it a career. The program was a year long and a LOT of work (5-10 pm 4 nights a week while I worked a regular job). I have the information and skills, I can and will use it, now it’s time to move on to something else. People think I’m crazy and I was beginning to wonder as well. I currently have a very flexible job that I work from home (or wherever) and massage is now something I can do extra without filling a schedule and consuming the time I can invest in other learning adventures.

    • Joanna Moore says:

      Congratulations on putting in all that work! And I agree that it’s so much healthier to accept that you don’t want to do something anymore (at least in a certain way anymore) than to force yourself to do it. You’re not crazy; you’re just a multipotentialite! :-)

  4. Thanks for this Joanna. I am still struggling to accept my multipotentiality, but the more I read on here, the more I am inspired to find a way to embrace it and make it work for me.

    • Joanna Moore says:

      No problem! I think the key here is to let ourselves be happy and enjoy what we’re doing, rather than self-sabotaging by feeling that we should be another way.

  5. Chelsea says:

    So an interesting thing happened to me: I got hooked on a hobby and for the first time in my life I feel like I’ve found my (a) niche. That’s not to say I’m not still a multipotentialite–I have plenty of rotating interests/projects on my plate at all times like usual. Hell, I can’t even finish a book before switching to the next. However, I’m having a hard time visualizing myself one day being the “master” of my craft I so passionately want to become because I’m so used to my typical pattern.

    So, in most cases, expecting my interest to wane works because it softens the disappointment and so on, but on the flip side, it’s been difficult for me at times to keep up my confidence and determination for this one thing I so passionately want to keep in the forefront of my life for the long term because I’ve never experienced that.

    Can anyone else relate?

    Thanks!

    • Joanna Moore says:

      Ha, I’m like that with books! I must be ‘reading’ about 20 at the moment!

      I’m not sure I’ve had that yet. Well, maybe. Writing is always a thing for me. I don’t expect that to go anywhere. And I doubt myself because it’s already so competitive out there and most of the other writers only write. Is that similar?

  6. Caroline says:

    Jo- I love this article! So positive and so helpful. I love the idea of planning for the shift. I realize that I have been doing this already in some ways. I was so happy in school, especially college, when I got to anticipate a whole new set of classes every semester. I never felt guilty about changing direction then- it was part of the system. The guilt has only come once I’ve been out of school. That’s a part of the real world I’ve never liked. So I tend to set up seasonal/semester-length projects. I love finishing things, so I do shorter projects and then it’s ok to change- it’s like a final paper or assignment at the end of the semester, and then it’s ok to go on to a new class. I also have interests that are naturally seasonal- I tend to knit a lot in the winter, when it’s colder and yarn feels cozy and lovely. Then in the summer when it’s hot, I go to sewing because that feels breezy. And being a crazy reader, I get to pick a new interest every time I pick a new book. Podcasts are also a dream- hearing about other people’s interests is often as satisfying as picking up a new one myself. Thanks for this topic! I hope there will be more…

    • Joanna Moore says:

      I’d never thought of school and university like that! I think I did fairly well at getting variety into my degree because I studied three languages. I love the idea of making real life more like school!

  7. Jose says:

    This rings so true for me. I have this pile of workbooks on my shelf collecting dust that I got started on to learn about photography. Thankfully, I didn’t have to make any financial investment in the program other than time.

    However, they’re still sitting on my shelf waiting for me to jump back into one day. I like your idea of setting up a date to at least take a look at it again sometime in the future.

    • Joanna Moore says:

      It’s tricky! Bev once wrote a post about what to do about your equipment and tools for old hobbies. Could be worth having a dig around for that post.

  8. Linda says:

    I used to worry about this but gave up on the worry ages ago… I’m more worried about running out of interesting things to learn!! What I am finding exhausting at the moment is being stuck, for a variety of reasons, in a career that I mentally left last year. I no longer feel guilty or worried about my changing interests because I know just how debilitating staying with something I have finished can be.

    Besides. You rarely ever totally leave something behind. I find my old interests coming back into use at the strangest times. :)

  9. ahmed says:

    still confused

    when someone introduce himself to me and it comes my turn , I didn’t find something to say , the same same for old friend or college when we meet with coincidence

    he asked me where are you work ? whats your prof ?

    I confuse and talk to myself , whats the answer

    tell him what , engineer , manager , business owner for a while or voice over artist or dancer or actor or collage arts designer or career counselor or HR specialist or creative writer who can write all kind of scripts

    say what ?

    say I m the person who have lot of artistic talents and expressive with business and human development case also who have engineering mindset

    OMG , that’s harsh socially , the cruel is my personality is too socially , I couldn’t isolate myself , this case make me tend to be isolated socially , society look to people like scanner as loser of failures , sort of people who couldn’t concentrate in one thing because they didn’t want to work or take charge in other hand this scanner personalities is fail to plan and just a random people , the society look to us as that

  10. Katie says:

    Yep, I’m in exactly this space right now. I enrolled in an online course last year, I’ve done some of the work but now I’m running out of time to finish it and the fees are going to have to be paid eventually… except I’ve got a lot of work to do to complete it…. Just seem to have lost the motivation to do it.

    • Joanna Moore says:

      Things like that are so tricky. Do you force yourself to do it because you’ve paid or do you accept that that interest is done for now? My wife started a personal training course about a year ago and we’re still paying for that even though she’s now a marketing executive! Every now and then I think I should just do the course for fun!

  11. Liza Davis says:

    What I see happening, now at the grand-old age of 51, is that I have had so many experiences and skillsets that I can draw from … and things call me back as well. Just because you step away from intensive engagement with one interest, doesn’t mean that you can’t return to it. For almost a year now, I have been studying accordion, and I have been really dedicated about practicing. Most of the time, I have really loved to practice. But within the last month, I noticed that my interest has been waning, and have been thinking that I should start improving my piano, which I started years ago. I know that if I focus on piano for a while, it really isn’t going to hurt my accordion playing in the long run. In fact, I believe it will help me with accordion. This technique of pairing related interests that are related to boomerang back and forth from not only deepens my overall knowledge of an area, but keeps me alert and engaged in the learning process. I did this successfully with dance – I started with flamenco and was going full strength, until the classes I enjoyed were halted for the summer, so I moved on to Tango, and then Salsa … each dance form informed the other one, and eventually I returned to flamenco again. What was most important to me, was that the reasons I had come to dance – love of music, movement, strengthen memory and coordination, etc these were being fulfilled as I shifted from one interest to another.

    • Joanna Moore says:

      Hi Liza,

      I love this! I think you’re spot on, and I really hope things go like that for me too. There are always themes and patterns and similarities between interests, so they pretty much always benefit the other ones in some way!