Blog Post | A New Year and a Fresh Start - Part 2

 

A New Year and a Fresh Start - Part 2

 

Welcome to Part 2 discussion on my thoughts about getting a fresh start to the year and what it means to get or be motivated. 

As I said in last week’s Part 1 blog, according to Dr. Russ Harris in his book called The Confidence Gap, “committed action comes first, feeling motivated comes later.” He is explaining that motivation does not precede action but that action precedes motivation. And when looking up the definition of motivation, I saw plenty of action. Motivation is “a willingness of action, especially in behavior” and “an incentive or reason for doing something.” I determined that when I think motivation is needed, I will think motion instead. This will remind me to get into movement of some kind towards my committed or valued action rather than stall out waiting on a feeling. 

That has been my modus operandi for so long. Waiting on the magical motivation to materialize and sweep me into a fury of productivity. Frankly, the odds were higher for Glenda the Good Witch to materialize than motivation. Of course, as the deadline started bearing down on me the Flying Monkeys called Anxiety started raising their ugly heads. Yeah, those monkeys eventually got me into action but it wasn’t pretty. Just like that scarecrow, I felt like they tore me up and scattered my parts everywhere. Because a high state of anxiety is not a good path to my best work or my best self. And by the way, if you have never watched the original version of The Wizard of Oz, you really need to. 

A valued action according to Dr. Harris would be actions consistent with who I believe myself to be or want to be as a person. For example, since I value being a healthy person then I would take actions to contribute to that value. Eating healthier and exercising would be some of the actions I might take in the process of honoring that value. 

Don’t fall for the myth of motivation. You know the one we believe when we say “I am not motivated right now.” Every decision and every action we take is motivated by something. Motivation is a desire and hence we always have motivation. But as I talked about in Part 1 this desire to do something could be trumping a more valued action. If I am trying to hit the gym for a workout but flop myself on the couch to watch a movie, my desire is stronger to watch the boob tube. But that is not my true desire since it’s not aligned with my true values. I tend to like the path of least resistance and things that feel really good with the least amount of effort. I bet you can relate!

Willpower is a resource that will rise and wane according to environmental factors so just like motivation, I can’t wait to “have” the willpower to get started. So many things can hinder my ability to use willpower such as how I am feeling at any given moment. Fatigue, hunger, stress, and peer pressure are just some of the examples of what might interfere with my level of willpower. As my energy reserves are being eaten up with all the decision-making during the day, my willpower is being depleted like the fuel in my car’s tank after driving hard. Again, we need to make that connection to a committed action or value and then start the action to create the desire or motivation to keep going. 

Like many others, I found myself reading everything I could find to develop better discipline or stronger willpower. But what I really needed was to get into a committed action plan or to use that motto from Nike - “just do it.” Boy, don’t you hate it when advertising is actually useful and truthful?

Do not let your “nanny” brain try to convince you to avoid your committed action and “do it later.” Later does not come, it is always today as my grandmother would say. Every time we avoid a commitment in favor of later, we have strengthened that neural pathway and our brain becomes hardwired to do it again. After all, it feels good to postpone and avoid it for later, so it has become our default response. The better news is our brains also have the capacity to create a new pathway of response but only if we consistently choose the new response over the old. 

“Action is the foundational key to all success.”

— Pablo Picasso

Get uncomfortable and push out of your comfort zone. Just start and see what happens!

 

Katherine Jahnke
ADHD Coach | Center For Living Well with ADHD, LLC

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