“I was running around, jumping from one task to another… as soon as I started something, I’d realize I was forgetting another task, so I’d jump on it. I was frazzled and then I realized I was getting nowhere!”
This was how my client, Chris described the moments leading to his near-breakdown. He was suffering a massive case of overwhelm.
“I lost it. I completely zoned out, paralyzed by this overwhelming feeling that everything was out of control. The phone was ringing, emails kept coming in, proposals needed my attention and I just couldn’t move, I couldn’t think. I felt this sense of doom.
“What’s worse,” he continued, “is that I have been having more of these episodes lately and I have no idea what to do.”
What Chris was describing is known as overwhelm. It happens to many of my clients, and as Chris discovered, unless things change, it’ll keep happening. If you tackle your work and your life the same way, you’ll get the same results, day after day… after day.
In this Facebook Live session, discover the 3 top strategies for stopping the cycle of overwhelm, strategies you can implement right now.
Have you ever wondered if you were one of the few who doesn’t have any discipline or willpower? If so, how can you succeed when most goals worth accessing require a certain amount of persistence?
27% of stressed out people state that a lack of willpower stopped a change they wanted to achieve
Studies show that people with more self-control, or willpower, do better in life
Creative Geniuses appear to have less willpower than most because of different brain wiring
The more you have to use willpower in the day, the more your “bank of willpower” gets depleted and you have less willpower – it leads to more decision fatigue
You deplete your willpower far less if you are in a positive mood, have a strong belief that persistence will lead to success and have a good overall attitude
Willpower can be strengthened through practice and using strategies such as avoiding
Use implementation intention if / then statements to manage persistence and obstacles to persistence,
for example, if you chose to write every morning at 6 am you can state and make arrangements to, as Mary did, “if it’s 6 am, then I’ll be writing”.
If you can anticipate obstacles you can state something like, “if my friends call when I had planned to write, then I will let them know I can’t talk to them right now, but will quickly schedule a time for me to call/ or I won’t answer the call”
“I just don’t seem to have enough discipline, she exclaimed face in her hands. Every week I try to set aside time so I can write but it never happens. I end up checking emails even though I vow never to check them when it’s writing time. My husband now rolls his eyes every time I talk about writing my book and it hurts that he doesn’t believe me, but I don’t blame him. I don’t believe ME. Is it my ADHD that’s stopping me or do I simply lack willpower?”
Mary, a creative genius I was coaching to help her tap into her creativity and overcome her ADHD, had been trying to write a book she had floating around in her head for five years, but was getting nowhere. Yes, her ADHD made her more impulsive than most but it wasn’t the whole story. Willpower is a finite resource and to achieve a dream, you’ve got to go beyond the “buckle down and just do it approach.”
In this Facebook Live session, I’ll share the strategies Mary used to finally get her book written, and how you can use those same strategies to accomplish anything you want!
As we’ve seen, it’s much easier to reach goals using small consistent actions than it is to try to do everything at once. If you were able to make those small consistent actions without thinking about them, you wouldn’t need willpower to reach your goal. The way to do this is to turn those routines, the small consistent actions that move you toward your goal into a habit.
Let’s look at how to do that. Turning those actions into a habit requires three components: a trigger, a routine and a reward. Let’s dive into each of these elements. A trigger is an event that occurs in your environment that tells you it’s time to start the routine. A routine is simply a series of steps that when completed in the same order allow you to reach a consistent result. The reward, of course, is a motivator – it can be external to the routine or integral to it.
So let’s look at an example of the “habit loop.” When you are hungry, your stomach growls (the trigger), you raid your pantry or the staffroom refrigerator for food, heat it up and eat it (all these steps are the routine) and your hunger is abated (the reward).
Let’s apply this same model to a goal you might want to reach: Getting in shape.
As we mentioned earlier, it’s much easier to reach this goal through a series of consistent actions, such as exercising every day, than it is to do it all at once. You can’t get to the Olympics by being a couch potato for three years and then working non-stop for the last year!
Step 1: Consider the routine first. When you apply this strategy to reach goals such as getting in shape by exercising every day, you’ll always want to look at the routine first. In this case, let’s say you decide you want to run for 30 minutes every morning before work. If you haven’t run in a while, you might need to start with running 5 minutes a day.
Step 2: Identify a trigger that will remind you it’s time to put on your runners and pound the pavement. Triggers can be auditory cues such as reminders or alerts on your phone, visual cues such as keeping your runners next to your bed so your feet hit your shoes first when you wake up. A trigger can also be an event such as waking up or eating breakfast. Choose one or more triggers to see what works best for you. You decide to set your alarm an hour before you usually wake up and to put your shoes next to your bed.
Step 3: Determine how you will stay motivated to continue. ”Ideally the reward comes naturally as a result of the routine. In this case, feeling healthy is its own reward, but you may need to spice things up, at least until you start feeling the health benefits of running. You may decide to reward yourself with a small piece of dark chocolate (my favorite!), read a magazine you enjoy, watch a couple of cat videos on YouTube, spend time with friends, etc. The key is that the reward must be motivating for you. Eventually, these three elements will be linked in your mind so that the trigger will not only remind you of the routine but also of the promise of the reward you’ll get from completing the routine.
One client who works in real estate wanted to increase his listings. He decided to use the Habit Loop to help make it happen. He chose his trigger as an appointment he had twice a week with a junior real estate agent he wanted to mentor to make calls.
The routine that would lead to more listings was to call more prospects, among other things. However, he struggled to get this done, so he looked at a reward that might help motivate him.
His reward initially was to have several prospective listings to visit. His ultimate reward was to increase his standing in the real estate brokerage firm he was associated with.
The Habit Loop works for everyone, but as a creative genius, just remember that your rewards need to occur relatively quickly after completion of the routine.
How You Can Use This
So now your it’s your turn. What results are you looking for?
Step 1: What is a routine that will help you progress toward that result?
Step 2: What trigger can you use to set the routine in motion?
Step 3: What reward will you get?
Will it be intrinsic to the routine or will you create an artificial one while you wait for your desired results? (To play it safe, use both!)
Once you’ve established a strong Habit Loop, you can count on reaching your goal automatically. You won’t need to think about it, and it really will feel like you could succeed in your sleep! Master the power of the Habit Loop and you’ll be able to easily achieve goals you once thought were out of your reach.
Want to be part of changing the way the world looks at women with ADHD? You can! My colleagues, Linda Roggli and Terry Matlen, have developed a ground-breaking online event and you are invited!
The Second Annual ADHD Women’s Palooza begins February 6th, and runs through February 11, 2017. It will be an extraordinary week of insight and answers exclusively for women with ADHD, presented by 36 ADHD Legends and Luminaries including: Dr. Ned Hallowell, Sari Solden, Dr. Russell Barkley, Dr. Thomas E. Brown, Dr. Stephanie Sarkis, and many more…
In the first part of this lesson, Goal Setting for Creative Geniuses: The Big Why, we looked at how important it is to have a good reason you want to accomplish whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish. It doesn’t matter if you call it a goal, an objective a desire or a New Year’s Resolution. Regardless of how important the objective is to the people around you, and that includes everyone from your boss to your children, you’re unlikely to achieve it unless you have a compelling “why” that will keep you motivated when you just feel like giving up.
Today, we’ll learn about a strategy that will make reaching your goals much more likely and more predictable.
Achieving most worthwhile goals require some repeated actions on a consistent basis. Achieving a goal that doesn’t require a continued effort and repeated action is usually not a challenge for creative geniuses. You’re here at your desk and you want to go to the fridge for a drink. This is a goal that will require a small effort over a relatively short period of time. On top of that, the motivation is built in. That drink is going to taste great!
No, the goals that challenge creative geniuses are those that require you to sustain your effort for a long period of time, and that effort includes doing things you’ll find difficult or worse, boring! For example, if you’re trying to increase sales in your business, you can’t just pick the next name on the list and go sell them something. Not every person you talk to is a prospect, and not every prospect becomes a customer. In order to increase sales, you must increase the number of people you speak with. Some of those people will become prospects. If you speak to more people, you’ll have more prospects. Then, you need to pitch to more prospects. Some of those prospects will become customers. If you pitch to more prospects, more prospects will become clients. Only a sustained, consistent effort will result in more sales.
Let’s look at another example. If you want to be and feel healthy, you must consistently sleep better, you must exercise more and you must eat more nutritious meals. You will not have a healthy lifestyle if you stay up all night every night and then sleep 50 hours on the weekend. You cannot eat junk food every day for lunch and hope to recuperate by eating nothing but vegetables on the weekend. (Besides, you’re supposed to be catching up on your sleep, remember!)
If you want an organized home, you’ll be much more successful if you determine a place for each item and get in the habit of putting things away where they go right after you’re finished with them than you will if you do a “spring cleaning” every other week. Clutter is impossible to stay ahead of any way but with small, consistent actions.
To achieve the goals that preoccupy most creative geniuses, the key to success is a series of small actions that move you in the right direction repeated routinely. Alone, these small steps look easy, and they are easy! Anyone can eat one healthy, balanced meal. It’s easy to get to bed on time once. The challenge is to do it again, and again. The thing is, it really isn’t any more difficult to eat balanced meal every day than it is to do it once. A healthy meal is the result of a series of identifiable, repeatable steps. Every time you follow those steps, the result is predictably a healthy, balanced meal. We call those series of repeatable steps that give a consistent result a routine. How then do you ensure you repeat those same series of steps over and over until you achieve you ultimate goal: good health? The best way to consistently get the same results is to turn that routine into a habit.
A habit is simply a routine that you’ve repeated so many times that it has become mechanical. You’ve followed that same series of steps so many times that the new pathways you created in your brain to allow you to prepare a healthy, nutritious meal have become four-lane highways. Your automatic reaction to hunger is to prepare a healthy meal. No thought is required.
Habits become so ingrained they become the easiest way for you to act. This reduces the amount of energy you use to accomplish those repeated steps. The human brain is bombarded daily, with stimuli it must react to, with choices it must make decisions about and problems it must solve, that it welcomes, and even encourages you, to use routines and habits. In fact, without routines and habits, you’d find it very difficult to get out of bed – the decisions you’d need to make before you even left that house would leave you exhausted!
You can reach any goal that’s important to you, break it down into a series of repeatable steps or routines, and turn those routines into habits. Creating those routines and adopting habits that help you progress toward your objectives reduces the energy you must expend. In fact, this is the easiest way to achieving almost anything.
So, given the goal you’ve set for yourself, what routine could you create that would move you in the right direction? Once you have a routine that delivers consistent results, repeat that routine again and again until it becomes a habit. Once you’ve created that habit, success is inevitable!
In the next part of this series, I’ll share a model you can use to help you turn those routines into habits more effectively.
By Linda Walker
This is the time of the year, after indulging during the holidays, when many of us decide to buckle down and set new goals or targets for ourselves in the coming year. Creative geniuses often set big goals. Big goals have the power to energize and inspire, especially when the going gets tough; however, big goals are usually long term goals and that can often spell trouble for you.
You see, Creative Geniuses, a term I use to describe people with out-of-the-box thinking such as entrepreneurs and people with ADHD, are interest-based performers who need the quick payoff of shorter goals to stay motivated. In addition, many ambitious creative geniuses think big but, faced with then taking action, don’t know where to start. Add to that a sometimes limited level of belief in your ability to reach your goal, and your stick-to-it-iveness will be tested many times. If your goal seems too “pie-in-the-sky” or feels too out of reach, only a strong belief in your ability to eventually succeed will keep you going, or not. You’ve heard the old adage: “if you think you can or you can’t, you’re right”.
On the other hand, many who’ve tried and failed too many times limit themselves by only setting small goals. The problem with this approach is that when you choose goals that don’t move you out of your comfort zone, even if you manage to reach your goal, it doesn’t feed your need for accomplishment. You know you didn’t have to stretch so you don’t respect the achievement. Of course, small goals aren’t very exciting and so don’t have the same power to motivate. So what should you do?
If you’re a creative genius who wants to aim higher and accomplish more, the first thing you need to do is to think about the change you want to make happen in your life and get clear on why it’s important to you. Keep digging deeper. Once you have found a first reason it’s important to you, ask why that’s important to you. Then ask why THAT is important to you and so on. Keep digging deeper until you reach a reason that really resonates emotionally with you.
Here’s an example: many people want to be wealthy and set a big financial goal for themselves. The problem is that, oddly enough, even if it’s a big number, the dream of being wealthy is not a compelling one. As soon as you hit some bumps along the way, you’re very likely to resign yourself to your current lifestyle. But go a step further and ask why it is important to be wealthy? “I want to be able to quit my job”, you answer. Then ask, why is quitting your job important? “I hate that my job takes me away from home”. Why is it important not to be away from home? “Because I want to spend more time with my spouse and kids”. And why is that important to you? “Because I want to be a bigger part of their lives”. And why is that important? “Because I love them and I cherish every moment I can be with them and I want to guide my kids through all the experiences life has to offer them.” Ah ha! Now we’re talking!
Once you have a reason that really resonates with you emotionally, when you face setbacks, and you will face setbacks if you’re reaching high, which is more likely to keep you going? The thought of having a lot of money? Or the dream of being present in your children’s lives and being able to share all sorts of wonderful experiences with them? So the real goal is to have more time and more freedom so you can be a bigger part of your family’s life. Your goal is really not be wealthy. The great thing is, there are ways to break that goal down into smaller steps with the possibility of spending more time with your family showing up as a reward much sooner than the time required for you to achieve sufficient wealth to quit your job.
The next time we talk, I’ll show you how to set yourself up to take action toward whatever change you want in your life.
Available for a limited time only (December 18, 2016 at 11:59 pm EST)
I launched a workshop for ADHD adults, entrepreneurs and other creative geniuses with challenges with their productivity earlier in the week. This 3-part workshop offers a key strategy for managing your productivity through improved focus.
Rick Green, creator of the TotallyADD.com Website and of several documentaries, including the notable, ADD and Loving It, talks about his struggles with inattention, how it affected his productivity, how he improved his ability to focus, and a surprising outcome.
I’ll be doing a Webinar at ADDA on Wednesday, Dec. 7th at 9 PM Eastern.
Adults with ADHD are always looking for new ways to be more effective and productive in their lives. Unfortunately, when you fall into the trap of listening to productivity gurus’ strategies, you often discover they don’t work! No matter how you try to adopt them into your life, they fail miserably. Before long, you think it’s your fault! You think you must be “broken” because whatever a guru recommends must be right, right?
The truth is that while these strategies work for some (and maybe most) neurotypicals, they don’t work for you. You, and other adults with ADHD, have a different brain wiring that actually turns these strategies into traps! Imagine, strategies that should make you more productive actually reduce your effectiveness and productivity!
In this session, we’ll explore the top 5 strategies that are supposed to improve your productivity, we’ll discuss why they’re completely wrong for you, and we’ll reveal what will actually work instead.
Linda Walker, PCC, B. Admin., is a certified ADHD Coach who helps adults with ADHD overcome the special challenges of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) they encounter at home and in the workplace. She is the creator of The Maximum Productivity Makeover for Creative Geniuses, a training program for adults with ADHD and the author of With Time to Spare.