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Bonnie Mincu

Senior Certified ADHD Coach

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Is Motivation Over-Rated with ADHD

You’ve probably noticed that the word “should” isn’t especially motivating.

No surprise – Our ADD / ADHD brain-wiring doesn’t respond to what we ‘should’ do.  Unless we’re really interested in a task, we have a pretty hard time staying focused on it for any great length of time.  Sometimes, we require the stimulus of a looming deadline, or last-minute panic, to goad us into action.

What do you do when there is no deadline?

Lacking a real crisis or consequence, you’ll probably need to create strategies to motivate your mind into beginning a task that seems dull.

The fallacy of waiting for motivation

When you have a boss to report to – and you want to keep your job — the expectations and structure of your organization can replace the need for motivation as a driving force.

But entrepreneurs or self-employed people with ADD / ADHD often have to contend with the strong influence their mood has on their taking steps to meet their goals.

Brandon, a self-employed ADHD coaching client, told me he had typically waited for motivation to strike so that he could begin projects that were important to meeting his business goals. His standard rationalization for not beginning a project was that he was ‘just not motivated.’

One day, Brandon decided that motivation was beside the point.  That’s when he hired me to coach him – not to get him motivated – but to work with him on developing strategies that would help him DO IT.

A downside of entrepreneurship is there is no one to fire you for not following through, no one who will ask whether you’ve entered your contact list in a database.  So it’s all too easy to let your mood dictate what you get done.

Of course, it’s understandable to feel unmotivated after your sales presentation falls on deaf ears, or your manuscript is returned with a ‘thanks, but no thanks.’  But feeling unmotivated is one thing, showing it through inaction is another.

Some time for self-commitment

To succeed at anything, you require a strategy that doesn’t depend on motivation or your mood of the moment. So your actions for the day will be based on your long-term vision and strategies, not only on what you feel like doing.

This doesn’t mean the entire day has to be rigidly scheduled with no flexibility – but it probably does mean you have some firm commitments to a few steps that you will accomplish NO MATTER WHAT!

Committing to do a step or two towards your larger goal might mean spending an hour of time on something you’re not really motivated to do.

How can you get yourself to do this?  Here are some options:

  • Split that hour up between morning and afternoon.
  • Find a way to make it more pleasant, perhaps with stimulating music or in a different environment.
  • Practice a different habit in that hour, in order to cut out your distractions or roadblocks.

HOW to SUPER-CHARGE YOUR PRODUCTIVE HOUR:

  • Stay off email
  • Turn off the phone
  • Plan ahead to make sure everything you need is in place
  • Remove the clutter from your desk
  • Enter that task in your calendar for a specific time of day, and make yourself NOT AVAILABLE!

After you’ve accomplished your task, you can ‘reward’ yourself by returning to your “unmotivated” mood. But you may find it’s not so easy – the feeling of accomplishment itself has been known to create motivation!

What is the most unmotivating thing you have to do…and how do you get yourself to do it?

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Author: Bonnie Mincu
Senior Certified ADHD Coach, Founder of "Thrive with ADD," Bonnie has been coaching adults with ADD / ADHD traits since 2001. She has developed numerous training programs to help with the challenges of Adult Attention Deficit Disorder.

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