About ten years ago, I bought into the prevailing belief that people with ADHD have to be highly motivated to get things done. However, these days I don’t believe that poor motivation is the reason that people with ADHD – or any of us – have trouble getting things done.
I believe that people who have trouble getting things done let feelings get in the way of best intentions.
Actually, many famous people with ADHD have already debunked the poor motivation theory. When you read their stories, you find out that they did not wait for a feeling of motivation to kick them into action. Instead, they knew their purpose and pushed through fears, boredom, discouragement, and setbacks until they succeeded.
ADHD and Poor Motivation
Now, I know that it’s challenging for many people with ADHD to initiate tasks that require sustained mental effort. It’s also often challenging for people with ADHD to bring tasks to completion. Those are some of the diagnostic criteria for meeting the DSM 5 definition of ADHD.
But too many people with ADHD focus on a feeling (as if it was normal and acceptable) as an excuse for not getting things done. How many times have you heard a person with ADHD say, “I’m just not motivated”?
If you wait to get motivated to do something, you’re in a passive state of mind. You want something to make you “feel” the way you want to feel before you get started. However, if you actually start doing something, your active state of mind develops a sense of vision and purpose. And that’s when you get more and more things done!
Poor Motivation is No Excuse!
Recently, I listened to a YouTube video by Mel Robbins entitled “The Secret to Self-Motivation: One of the Best Speeches Ever”. That’s when I became convinced that Motivation is Garbage! Listen to Mel’s words:
In order to change; in order to build a business; in order to be a parent and a spouse; in order to do all those things that you want to do with your life, your work, your dreams – you are going to have to do things that are difficult, uncertain, or scary.
Which sets up this problem – for all of us: you are not going to FEEL like it!
Motivation is garbage. You are only motivated to do the things that are EASY.
Poor Decisions, Not Poor Motivation
The reason Mel Robbins has such strong feelings about motivation is that she went through a time that she wasn’t motivated to do anything. At age 41, she hit a low point in her life. By most standards, she was a success – a law school graduate, married to a successful entrepreneur, and the mother of two children. Then she lost her job, and her husband waited too long to get out of a restaurant business that had grown way too big too fast.
Mel found herself thinking about their pending bankruptcy, losing their home, and being unemployed. For about three months, she kind’a “checked out.” She kept hitting the snooze button, unable to pull herself out of bed in the mornings.
Though Mel would go to bed at night telling herself she was going to go to the gym the next morning and then look for a job, she didn’t do it. She “felt” motivated when she went to bed, but as she kept hitting the snooze alarm seven times, she would say to herself, “I don’t feel like doing those things.” The motivation was just not there when she needed it!
As Mel says, she wasn’t intentionally trying to destroy her life. But her decision not to get up on time meant her whole day was off track right from the start. Before she even got out of bed, she felt overwhelmed and afraid from so much worrying. She was grumpy with her kids and husband. The kids were late to school. All day long, she continued to make teeny, tiny decisions to postpone even more things. Those decisions derailed her more without her even realizing it.
Replacing Motivation by Counting 5-4-3-2-1!!
One night Mel was watching a rocket ship launching on TV: 5-4-3-2-1: Blastoff!! Suddenly, she thought to herself, “That’s it!! In the morning, I’m going to sit up in bed and go 5-4-3-2-1. Like a rocket ship. I’m going to launch myself out of bed so fast that I won’t even think. “
It worked! Mel got out of bed the next morning – and the next morning, and the next morning. And she didn’t climb back in bed! She kept saying 5-4-3-2-1 to get out of bed, and she took back her life.
Mel was so fascinated by her turnaround that she started researching how the brain works. Now she is on a mission to debunk the idea that you have to be motivated to get anything done.
There’s actually a lot of science about why Mel’s 5-4-3-2-1 strategy works for her and for thousands of her followers around the world! It boils down to what happens in your brain when you hesitate and listen too much to feelings that hold you back. But that’s enough for now. I’ll write about what happens in your brain when you hesitate and listen too much to feelings in my next article!
Do You Think Motivation is Garbage?
Do you wait to get motivated before doing things? Do you think motivation is garbage? What gets you out of bed? And how do you get things done?
We would love to hear your comments (below)! And please contact us if you’re having trouble getting things done and you want to set up a free consultation to see if one of our coaching programs would be a good fit for you.