Her Daughter Can’t Seem to Finish Anything

Dear Vicki: This may be an odd question, but I’m hoping you can help. My teenage daughter, Sam, is very creative and loves to design things like clothing, pottery, and even scenery for our local theater. Sam’s enthused about starting things, but once she’s in the middle of it, if the process takes too long, she loses her enthusiasm and I have to encourage her (and sometimes downright nag) to get her to finish. Sam’s very outgoing, active in student government, and does have a bit of a temper if I nag too much. I know she is busy, but I am drowning in her unfinished projects. Can you help? Signed, Soggy Mom

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Dear Soggy Mom: This is an interesting issue. The fact that Sam has “a bit of a temper” and is active in student government suggests that Sam has a primary Wood personality. Wood people usually enjoy the task of running things, and anger is often a place they go when stressed. That said, conceptualization and creativity sit in the Water element, so this means that Sam must easily access the Water aspects of her personality, too. She just doesn’t stay there long enough to finish up on things, and I suspect this is partially an aspect of her Wood personality. Let me explain.

Sam uses her time playing in the creativity of the Water element to come up with lots of great ideas and projects, but it’s her Wood personality that she uses to make them happen. A hallmark of Wood is accomplishment, so this means that while Sam may love the designing phase of a project, she loves the success of the finished piece, too. But the road from the design start to the finish goes through the town of hard work, and some Woods just don’t have the patience for that. If too much time is involved, Sam might be losing interest in her projects and therein sits the problem. It’s not that Sam is lazy, she’s just not engaged anymore. And that’s the kiss of death for Wood people – they don’t do boredom well.

For Sam, keeping her engaged in the process can depend on how long any given project takes. As her mom, you might offer guidance on how time-consuming a project could be and point out the commitment necessary to finish it. But let me also warn you that this might not stop Sam if the muse of creativity has captured her heart or if she is really gung ho on doing something. Wood people often think they can do it all, and sometimes they can. Experience will be her teacher here.

Another way to help Sam with the completion of things is to encourage her to get involved in group projects that include a variety of people. In a large group there are certain to be those who enjoy the process of lengthy projects in ways that Woods just don’t. Metal people are especially good at seeing things through until the end because endings of all sorts sit in the Metal element. If Sam enjoys designing scenery for your local theater, she has had some experience working with groups. You might encourage her in this direction more often

And truthfully, this might be a problem that resolves itself over time. Once Sam is on her own and begins drowning in her own unfished projects, she may become quite adept at self-regulating. But until then, just discussing this issue with Sam will be a great gift to her self-understanding. If she’s going through life with a primary Wood personality, it will be extremely valuable for her to understand her own tendencies when faced with too large a project.

Sam is lucky to have a mom who’s concerned about her Water ideas not overwhelming her Wood. She will need a strong Wood personality to manage all of the wonderful things she will want to start, and finish. Blessings to you and Sam!

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