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Ditch Motivation in Favor of Commitment

Updated: Nov 14, 2022

Some Goal-Achieving Food for Thought as we Near 2021

Think back on 2020 and all the things you wanted to achieve. Out of those things, cross off anything that COVID messed up. Whatever’s left, how did you fare? Our brains are wired to notice the negative – it’s an evolutionary survival technique. So we have to work harder to notice the positive. Make sure to acknowledge what you did achieve, even if it fell short of your goal.

Now take a look at the things you failed to achieve, that were under your control. What do they have in common? I’m willing to bet it has something to do with motivation.

“I wish I had the motivation to

· Work out

· Eat healthy

· Clean up every night

· Declutter

· Turn my phone off

· Go to bed before midnight

· Get up early

· Work without distraction

· Stay on top of my inbox

· [insert your wish] …


It’s not so much that you lacked motivation. It's more the ability to act on your motivations that got in your way. ADHDers are as motivated as the next person to reach their goals. But executive function weaknesses get in the way of acting on our motivations, of implementing our goals. Here are 10 ways how …

1. Remembering –

Weak working memory makes it easy to forget what we commit to doing.

2. Planning/Organizing –

A lot of commitments take planning and organizing to implement, to figure out the when and the how of achieving a goal.

3. Prioritizing -

Acknowledging that a commitment is more important than other things, even if the other things seem more urgent, take clear-headed prioritizing.

4. Starting –

Task initiation challenges make procrastination very common amongst ADHDers.

5. Managing time –

Weak time-processing and time estimation get in the way of us keeping commitments.

6. Managing Emotions –

This means feeling and accepting our negative emotions, but being able to put them aside in order to fulfill our commitments.

7. Resisting Impulses/Distractions –

Response inhibition is the ability to stop and think before we act. A weakness in this area is what’s commonly known as impulsivity. One minute we are committing to saving for something important. Next thing we know we’ve just ordered 4 new books / pairs of shoes / other 1-click-buy items!

8. Following Through –

Staying focused and sticking to it in the long run (aka commitment) is especially hard for ADHDers , whose brains are wired to thrive on novelty and immediate gratification.

9. Being Flexible –

ADHD brains have a hard time revising plans in the face of obstacles, setbacks or new information. So new situations, unexpected events or even transitions can knock us for a loop.

10. Self-Monitoring / Self-Evaluating –

ADHD brains struggle to monitor and evaluate progress. We also don't always notice how we work and apply that knowledge so we can make changes to be more successful.

Commitment Turns a Promise into Reality

True quote, from Abraham Lincoln no less. So, if motivation isn't enough for us to achieve our goals, let's focus on commitment. And yes, I know that's hard for us too, but when something is hard, do we just throw in the towel? No! We can use accountability as a structure to support us.

How Does ADHD Coaching Help you Keep Commitments to Yourself?

Here’s an interesting thing to ponder – why is it easier to break commitments to ourselves than to others? Well, research shows that "...Correspondence Training – making a public commitment to your partner, friend , your manager/ team leader [or coach]—increases the likelihood that you will activate your intentions. ...[It] puts some added pressure on you to follow through with the plan—but that’s why public commitments increase the likelihood that people will follow through with what they’ve committed to do!" (Dawson, Peg; Guare, Richard. The Smart but Scattered Guide to Success . Guilford Publications)

Since ADHD coaches have an in-depth understanding of how ADHD can get in the way of us achieving our goals, an ADHD coach can give you that accountability in an empathetic and non-judgmental way. I personally have invested in some great software that can visually track my clients progress over time. Over and above the visual reinforcement it gives, we can look for trends or explore the reasons for setbacks. Another big part of coaching is bringing issues to the forefront of our minds so we are more aware of our desires, motivations and goals. When you speak to a coach, you get to "hear" yourself speak the ideas out load. You get to "see" them from another perspective.

What kind of 2021 do you want to have? To make it a great one, think about changing your focus from motivation to commitment. Pick something to commit to for 2021 and do it whether you "feel like it" or not. Comment below to be accountable to others!

Want to turn your commitment into a habit?

Introducing the :

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