How technology might be ruining your ability to finish what you start 2023

Whether it’s writing a book or preparing for a marathon, we all begin projects that we never complete. You might blame willpower, but our brains may have been reprogrammed by modern technology. In their new book, Swipe: The Science Behind Why We Don’t Finish What We Start, Tracy Maylett and Tim Vandehey investigate how “swiping” has altered human behavior.

“We are now so involved with our smartphones that they are essentially a part of who we are,” adds Maylett. “We’re used to programs that accomplish what we call’reality flipping’ in a very short amount of time, unknowingly and immediately.”

Whether you’re playing a game, reading an article, or watching a movie on your smartphone and get uncomfortable or no longer enjoy what you’re experiencing, you may switch to a different reality with the flick of a finger. That split-second instinct has begun to infect how we comprehend the actual world—but tech doesn’t deserve all the blame.

Maylett explains that the ease with which we may alter our realities is due to the vast number of options and methods available to us. “Rather than persevere, it is much simpler to abruptly declare, ‘I don’t like this right now, and I’m done'”


The temptation to swipe can have repercussions. “[Nobel Prize-winning scientist] Daniel Kahneman discusses two systems in our brain, with one system focusing on rapid reflexes,” adds Maylett. It is the trigger for the fight-or-flight response. It’s built expressly to get us out of danger and send us on very rapidly until the other system can make a more educated response.”

The concern is that a hasty reply may be erroneous. It’s not a deliberate choice; it’s a reflex.

“One of the downsides of swiping is that it is made using the incorrect area of our brains and is not a well-considered decision,” explains Maylett. “We must be able to pause and say, ‘Instead of swiping away from this discomfort, let me focus on making a really thoughtful decision'”

Vandehey says the primary consequence of swiping is regret. “The things that we swipe away from are things that we’d like to achieve,” he says. “They’re goals that we would like to hit. When we push the eject button out of fear, discomfort, humiliation, annoyance, or boredom, we’re not thinking about it. After the fact, there is almost inevitably regret.”

Reaching objectives frequently needs practice and patience. Maylett states, “When we swipe, we never attain that level of skill.” “We become masters of swiping’ rather than what we set out to do.”


Since the urge to swipe has become hardwired into us, the authors argue that recognizing its existence is the first step in overcoming it. The second stage is to look at the underlying issues that are feeding the impulse. Disillusionment, discouragement, erroneous expectations, and boredom might be triggers.

What patterns do we follow when doing these actions? Vandehey asks. “One of the tricks for me when I reach the point where I get frustrated and will possibly stop is having a plan. Knowing how I will work through discouragement, embarrassment, boredom, or lack of results is crucial.

For instance, you may need to adjust your timeframe, take a break, or take other measures to avoid a moment of stress and pain from derailing your plans.

“The need will persist until you’ve achieved sufficient accomplishment to pass through that stage without experiencing the temptation to give up,” explains Vandehey.

It is essential to remember that tapping out is distinct from swiping. “It’s good to move on if you’re in a toxic circumstance, such as a toxic work environment or relationship, or if something is simply not right for you,” Maylett adds. “Tapping out is a deliberate decision based on one’s sense of well-being. Unlike the swipe, it typically does not result in regret. The person who withdraws from an activity typically does so for a good reason.

To determine if you are swiping or tapping out, the authors advise searching for a time gap that will allow you to give your decision more thought. Maylett says, “Unfortunately, we’ve been conditioned not to allow that time delay.” We do not wish to be required to wait for something to occur.

Swiping is a universal sensation, according to the authors. By restraining yourself and giving yourself the gift of time, you are more likely to complete what you’ve begun and reduce the likelihood of future regret.

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