I have a motivational problem. At work, at home and even sometimes with this website.
The realization that I am not alone with this led me to believe that I should do some research. At first, I thought my lack of motivation had everything to do with having ADHD. Now I am thinking that the concept of motivation is soooo much more complicated than being inattentive or distracted.
Motivation is about how we view our work, whether we work in the home or outside the home.
By way of total serendipity (not an exhaustive internet search) I found this brilliant article called What Motivates Us At Work? More Than Money <via>. The article, written by Jessica Gross for the Famous TED website, breaks down some very interesting research in the field of human motivation.
find your motivational fuel
Acknowledgement feels good
We want people to notice us. We want to leave our mark on the world, and we want proof that we have made an impression. This is part of being human.
Some of us are perfectly happy with a verbal, “good job”, in the workplace. Others are chomping at the bit for money or promotion. If you work in the home you may wish for your significant other to acknowledge your contributions.
Follow through is what we need to acknowledge with ADHD. At times, just completing a task from start to finish is an accomplishment. We so rarely get positive feedback for finishing and we don’t really give it to ourselves. Instead we look for flaws.
The end product might not be perfect, but perfection can wait.
Research has shown that we feel better about our work when we feel like we are helping someone.<via>
At first glance, I really didn’t buy this at all. I know people who are successful (by most standards), and do absolutely nothing to benefit humanity. In fact I see it all the time in my work and personal life.
Thinking a little harder about the nature of work, I do agree with this statement, for me personally. Everything I do in some way impacts my clients and my employer. Every phone call, every document supports the end goal of settling my client’s claim.
I do feel better when I know my work is helping someone who needs the help.
The research I do for this website is completely motivated by the response I get from readers. If someone with ADHD sends me an email telling me they got something positive out of my writing, I am walking on air for the rest of the day.
Indirectly helping counts too. If you work in the home, the laundry you do, the shopping and organizing and childcare – it all helps your family.
[bctt tweet=”By helping others we are indirectly motivating ourselves.” username=”HealthyADHD”]
Use Positive Images
One of the most interesting parts of the TED article explained some research into positive imagery and it’s impact on motivation. I have sort of indirectly written about positive imagery in my supercharge your productivity post.
In short, the research indicated that people did better work after being shown pictures of cute puppies and kittens. <via>
I am not sure that puppies and kittens would do it for me, but I do think using a vision board would be a great way to maintain motivation. I am actually considering making my own vision board to test this theory. On Pinterest of course – I am not crafty enough to make a real, physical object.
Those of us with ADHD might benefit from a visual reminder of our goals in the work place. A mini-vision board, if you will.
So what would a neurotic female with ADHD and a part-time job put on a vision board? Everything! Home improvements, paying off debt, a new handbag, a particular book, a vacation…whatever visuals stimulate my motivation. The possibilities are endless.
Accomplish Something Difficult
In her article, Ms. Gross states argues, “Our valuation of our own work is directly tied to the effort we have expended on it.” Say what? We like doing things that are hard?
Umm yeah, as it turns out we do. As a matter of fact, I totally identify with this. Whenever I get sh-t done and I know that I have worked my butt off in the office, I feel great. I feel so much more energetic and able to keep going. I produce my best writing on the days I work the hardest at my office job.
When we work hard, we play hard. For those of us with ADHD this totally plays to our strengths.
The other thing that is vitally important for us is to develop our sense of self-efficacy, or the belief that we can do something. When we work hard at something and then master it, we immediately feel validated.
Have you ever written a term paper or completed a take home test? You know that feeling when you are done editing and ready to submit it, and you feel totally at ease? You could sleep like a baby you are so calm? That is the feeling of accomplishment I speak of.
It is amazing and totally makes the chemicals in our brain do a happy dance.
create Visual Proof
There is this guy named Dan Ariely, who is well known for his research into human motivation and work motivation. He has done Ted talks on the subject. Very interesting guy.
In one of his studies he noticed that, “seeing the fruits of our labor (visually) was enough to motivate people to keep producing.” In this particular study, the subjects who got to see what they built with Legos, even for a short time, produced more objects. <via>
With this in mind, I would think that seeing my house completely clean and free of clutter should motivate me, even if it only lasts a day or so. I hope this is true. I mean, so far my house has never been clutter free so it is hard to test it out.
If you are an adult with ADHD, and you struggle with motivation in all facets of your life, what can you do?
[bctt tweet=”Use your hopes and dreams as motivational fuel. http://wp.me/p60iCk-eP” username=”HealthyADHD”]
The important part is that we prove to ourselves that we can master the motivational monster. We can complete a project from start to finish. We can set goals and then follow through.
Motivation is all about the end game. That book I talked about above, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change has a chapter that is called, “Begin with the end in mind.” I am going to try to make this my new personal mantra when I am having trouble motivating myself.
I invite you to try this also, when you feel you need to.
Begin each day at work (or home) with the end in mind.
What motivates you?
What is your end game?