January 17, 2023

What to Do When Your Goal is No Longer Exciting

This is a very vulnerable podcast for me. I made a goal to talk about one thing, told myself it would be easy, then procrastinated and realized it was more work than I was ready to handle. My mind originally had me living in this fantasy world, and I left it before thinking through the logistics and effort required to get it done and do it right. Have you been here before?

At this point in January, many of you may be starting to feel the same way about those New Year’s resolutions. Maybe you’re bored. The ideas just aren’t flowing anymore, and now you realize it is not going to happen unless you take significant action.

Sometimes even the things we love most in life are going to feel like drudgery and mundane work. In Episode 194, I share how this is one of the hardest things about dealing with ADHD for me personally.

So here we go! I’ll talk through the things I did wrong this week, the steps I skipped, and the danger of excitement that I floated on instead of facing reality. Let’s learn together, and I hope I can help you avoid the pain I went through with this good but difficult goal.

Maybe you are struggling with this as well and know you need an intervention to keep you on track. I invite you to join my group coaching program FOCUSED, where I help other ADHDers set goals and follow through with them. We’d love to have you!



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Kristen Carder:

Welcome to the I have ADHD podcast, where it’s all about education, encouragement and coaching for adults with ADHD. I’m your host, Kristen Carter and I have ADHD. Let’s chat about the frustrations, humor and challenges of adulting relationships working and achieving with this neurodevelopmental disorder. I’ll help you understand your unique brain, unlock your potential and move from point A to point B. Hey, what’s up, this is Kristen Carter and you are listening to the I have ADHD podcast episode number 194. I am medicated, I am caffeinated and I am ready to roll.

Sort of, I’m sort of ready to roll. I’ve actually been staring at my computer screen for the last 30 minutes not knowing what to write, or what to say to you. I’m just going to be totally totally straight in this episode. I don’t have any good ideas. I have no ideas today. And I don’t feel like recording this podcast. So that’s where we’re at. Okay, I saved it to the very last minute. And now I have an hour and 45 minutes left to figure out what I’m going to say what I’m going to record and then actually go ahead and record it and send it to my editor. And sometimes I really hate having a podcast, you would be shocked how fast Thursday’s come around. Now Thursday is the day that I send everything to my editor. It’s the day that she needs it. It’s the deadline day and I’m telling you it’s like always Thursday, Thursday come so fast, like how was it Thursday already.

So I want to let you know that sometimes even the things that we love most in life are going to feel like drudgery and mundane work. This podcast is my baby. I love it so much. I’m so grateful to have it. I can’t believe I get to do this work. I can’t believe so many of you are listening. I am exceedingly excessively grateful, like beyond belief. But I’m also bored. And I don’t feel like doing it sometimes. And I get annoyed that I don’t plan ahead. And sometimes when I do plan ahead, the day comes to hit the record button. And it’s just not what I want to be talking about. I had a plan. I had a plan, Okay, y’all had a plan. I had a plan to do a series on executive functions. I was like, oh, I’ll just like break down each executive function and talk about them individually so that you can really get a clearer understanding how each executive function that is, how it works, and how its impaired because of your ADHD. It sounds like a great idea. Now when I’m saying it out loud, right? Sure sounded like a good idea.

On Monday when I was on a hike, thinking through what I wanted to talk about this week. At the time, it felt like the perfect plan. But now it’s Thursday, it’s go time, it’s the day that I actually have to do the thing. And I don’t want to do the thing. At the risk of sounding like I’m complaining, I really want to use this episode to show you how hard it is to actually follow through on the things that we know we actually want to do. How hard it is to follow through on the things that we know make us a better person, or move us toward our goals, or help the world or solve problems. Like it’s actually really hard to do those things. All of a sudden, now recording a podcast episode on executive functions.

It’s too big. It’s too much work. It’s too hard. I don’t want to do it. This is one of the most difficult things about having ADHD for me personally. Because it seems like sometimes it’s just plain futile, futile, futile. Hmm, probably depends on what part of the world you’re in. I’m gonna say futile. It’s futile to plan in advance. Because when the time comes around to do the thing that you plan to do, oftentimes, you just don’t want to do it plain and simple. I just don’t feel like doing the thing that I told myself I was going to do. I wonder if you can relate to that. My dear, dear listener, I like big sigh.

Can we all just take a deep breath and be like, Yeah, I just I know you’ve been there. I know you’ve been there. I’m sharing this with you because I want you to know that even though I do put out a podcast weekly, which seems like a miracle to me. And I do have a successful coaching program. There are still times that I make plans and then I hate myself for making the plan. Why in the world did I plan to talk about executive functions? These are some of the hardest things to talk about. Honestly, there’s a lot have research involved. And there are many varying thoughts and perspectives to consider. And it seems like every doctor and every website seems to say something different. There’s lots of different lists of executive functions. And I often get frustrated, because there really should be consensus on this for ADHD ears, but there’s just not. So this makes the topic of executive functions really complicated. And what’s so adorable is that, while I was on my hike on Monday, I actually had the thought, Oh, this is gonna be easy. I could probably get two episodes done this week. It was really cute. Like looking back, that version of me. So cute, adorable. What I missed in that hike planning session was a true evaluation of my goal. And that’s what we’re going to talk about today. I didn’t stop to think, Hmm, what will the barriers be to this? Or what support will I need to reach this goal? Looking back, I got caught up in the fantasy of it being easy and fast. And I actually remember the rush of excitement that came over me when I when I finally like landed on this idea of the podcast series and executive functions, and I just felt a whoosh of excitement.

Y’all, excitement should be a warning sign that we may be in Fantasyland. Well, Frick. As I have to say, I fell for my brains tricks once again. And excitement usually is a trick. As soon as I believed I had a plan that would work, I stopped thinking about it. So instead of seeing the reality of how hard it might be to produce a series of episodes on executive functioning, I felt excited about the possibility. And I felt relieved that I had a plan. And then I moved on. I skipped a bunch of steps, like probably five steps, I skipped a lot of steps. So if you reading this, let’s go over the steps that I skipped. First, I didn’t consider what a series of episodes like this would entail. When we’re making a plan, we need to realistically check in to see what’s actually involved. I did not do that.

For me with this week. The answer is research. There’s a lot of research involved. And let me tell you, unless I’m trying to figure out a couple’s relationship status based on their Instagram photos. I don’t actually like research. I do like reading and learning. I really liked that part. But I don’t like finding the correct things to read and learn it. It’s hard. It’s like which sources are the best sources? And which ones do I really want to look at, it feels like excruciating work to have to dig up the correct information from the correct sources. So that’s a lot for me. Second mistake I made was I didn’t ask myself what I would need to accomplish the goal of getting a series of episodes out, especially getting two out this week, again, adorable that I thought that I could just get two episodes out, no problem. It’ll be easy. Now often ADHD ears don’t consider their own needs, we think we should just be able to do it whatever, quote unquote, it is.

Because I made the assumption that I didn’t really need anything. I didn’t consider that it actually might take me more time to get this kind of episode done. What I need is more time and maybe some help with research, if possible. And lastly, I really wasn’t honest with myself about what I truly felt. I got excited, I felt relieved. And then I moved on. I ended right there. It was a fantasy goal, not a realistic goal. You know, you’re in fantasy with a goal when you feel excited and relieved. Okay, you know, you’re being realistic when some of the true feelings come up with what it’s going to be like to actually accomplish the thing. As soon as I realistically started to think about getting this series out. I felt immediate dread. That was my actual reality. dread. I didn’t want to do it.

Okay, I’m being very vulnerable. I am completely exposing myself to you. But I do think that it’s important. It’s important to show you that this process is not perfect all the time. That even high functioning ADHD errs can struggle to set realistic goals, and that our brains are so tricky. My brain completely tricked me into believing that this is going to be fun and easy. And I would get a lot done in a short amount of time and it would be absolutely no problem. It was trickery. That’s what it was.

So now what Well, what we really need to do is go back and evaluate the goal. On Monday of this week, I went on a hike. And I asked myself, What should I talk about on the podcast this month or over the next couple of weeks? And I made this goal of doing a series of episodes on executive functioning. Now, is that really what I want to do? When I look at it? Realistically? Is that a good idea? Is it even a good idea for a series of episodes? The answer to that is yes. It is a good idea. Would it be valuable to you my listener? Yeah, I think it would, do I want to do it? Right. Now my answer to that question is a big Heck to the no. I don’t want to do it. But what can I do to actually help myself want to do it? What do I need, or what supports can I put in place to make this goal easier, and feel more doable. The first thing is, I’m giving myself the gift of more time, and I’m not forcing myself to get it done today. That’s really important. I noticed all the feelings that came up for me, I was feeling dread, I was staring at my computer, I was not getting anything done. I was avoiding, I was not being efficient. And I was watching the time tick away, and I am legit on a deadline here.

So I’m watching the time tick away. And I’m like, I am not being efficient. This isn’t going to work. So I’m still putting out an episode, you are getting, you know, an episode on Tuesday, which is the right time, but it’s not the one that I planned. That’s okay, that’s a gift to me, because I’m giving myself more time, it’s also a gift to you, because you’re not getting an episode that’s forced, that I’m angry about. And that probably wouldn’t be as valuable. As if I actually felt good about it, right. So that’s the first thing I’m giving myself the gift of more time, and I’m not shaming myself for it. I’m just like, observing what’s going on. And I’m like, this is not going to work, I’m going to need to shift, I’m going to need to pivot, I’m going to need to give myself more time.

Second, I need to be more realistic about the actual time that it’s going to take to do the work of putting out a series of episodes on executive functioning, I definitely should not save it for just one day, or I will get very mad at myself again, when I woke up this morning, and I looked at my calendar and I saw that I had three and a half hours blocked off for a podcast and I remembered what I had to do executive functioning, I was like, I want to do it, I want to do it, I don’t want to do I don’t want to do it. And all of the sudden the melt down began. So moving forward, I really should split up the work over a couple of days. So I’m not forcing myself to do it all in one day, that will feel much more doable, it will feel more spacious. And it will help me to be more creative. So now what I actually have to do is go look at my calendar. Like when I look at next week’s calendar, I do have a four hour segment blocked off for the podcast, but it’s all in one day. And there’s not another space in the week to add in more time for research. So the truth is, next week’s probably not the week to get it done. Okay. But that’s what being realistic sounds like it’s engaging with reality.

When I look at reality, I know that number one, I can’t get it all done in one day. And number two, next week, I don’t have time to split it up, I’m going to have to put it off to the week after. And some of you have some maybe like baggage around putting things off and then shaming yourself like, Oh, I knew you weren’t going to do it. But in reality, me planning it for a time that actually works with my calendar that actually makes sense is a much better idea. Okay. That’s what being realistic sounds like it’s engaging with the real version of you and what you need and not the fantasy version of Oh, it’ll be fine. I’ll just make it work. I’ll just make getting it done in one sitting work. I know myself, my history tells me that if I put off this executive functions podcast until next week, but only give myself one day to do it. I’m gonna hate myself for it. And I think it will just be a repeat of today which is like immediate dread, immediate avoidance, kind of a little temper tantrum and not being efficient with my time. I’m not going to do that.

Okay. This is the pain of living in reality. Now, my brain tricked me into fantasy thinking on Monday. It felt amazing. I had the thought and I do remember this I was walking down a hill. I was hearing the crunch crunch crunch of the frozen ground underneath my clunky waterproof boots. And I had the thought, oh, I’ll just do a series on executive functions, and each episode can be really concise. He’s maybe about 20 minutes. And it’ll be so helpful. That’ll be easy. I could probably get two done this week. And I felt excited and relieved. Now, I’m going to circle back to excited and relieved, being a warning bell, or an alarm system, that should alert us to the fact that we’re in fantasy.

That’s fantasy we can’t just live and the excitement and the relief of what it feels like to create a goal in our mind, we have to do the next step, right. And I didn’t even pick up on it. Because even though I’m a fairly high functioning, ADHD, er, and even though I’m an seasoned ADHD coach, I still have a human brain, I still have a human brain with ADHD. And I’m exactly like you and I get stuck in the same ruts as you do sometimes. Now, what I could have done differently was make sure to keep thinking about the goal, and actually plan the logistics of it. So it’s great to feel excited, it’s great to feel relieved. But let’s take it a step further and plan the logistics. So the questions that I could have asked myself are all right, what executive functions I’m not going to talk about specifically. And that would have brought up like, Well, every website, every resource, every doctor has a different list. So that would have grounded me into reality of like, this might take a little bit of work. And I could have asked myself, do I have past research on executive functioning that I can dig up?

The answer is yes. And it probably would have been really helpful for me to be reading the research and listening to past podcasts that I’ve recorded as the preparation for the podcast. So if I had done that, over the course of the last week, that really would have set me up for writing it and recording it today. It would have been awesome for me to ask myself, how much time will it take me to research? And I could have thought through how long has it taken me in the past? Then I could ask how much time will it take me to synthesize the info and figure out the most important things to communicate to my listeners? And here’s an important one. What do I anticipate I’m going to feel while I’m doing this? Now, if I’m living in reality, what I’m going to be feeling I will know, I will know that I’m going to be feeling some dread, some discomfort, some self doubt, like what if I don’t say the right things? What if I don’t communicate everything clearly? And then I could ask myself, What support do I need? What do I need to put in place to make this easier? How can I make this go more smoothly for myself? Do you see how those questions actually caused me to engage with the reality of what it takes to accomplish a goal?

If I had engaged with any of those questions, I would have had a much more realistic perspective on what would be required of me this week to get this podcast done. Reality is really important when we’re planning goals, y’all. excitement and relief. That’s fantasy. The reality is that this is actually going to take some work, the reality is that this is actually going to cause some discomfort. It’s okay to feel excited at first when we plan or think about a goal. Of course, that’s totally fine. But we can’t end there. We have to take the next step. Excitement is deceiving A F. Okay. I mean, if that’s not an Instagrammable, quote, I don’t know what it is. Excitement is deceiving A F. It deceived me this week, and I want to protect you from going through that same thing. Excitement isn’t bad, but it isn’t enough. We have to take it further. We have to truly be realistic and living in reality when it comes to our goals. And often reality isn’t exciting. Reality is mundane. Reality is uncomfortable.

Reality hurts Reality Bites, you know. For example, if you have a goal to get back into an old pair of jeans that you love that you haven’t been able to wear for like a year, let’s just say that can be a really exciting when you imagine zipping up those jeans, and imagine the way that you’re going to feel when you’re able to wear them. Okay, super exciting. But when you’re truly being realistic about what it will take to get you there. All of the thinking and the planning around food and the moving your body and the sacrifices that you’ll have to make. You’re not going to be feeling excited. Realistically, goals are hard. Realistically, it takes work and sacrifice and a measure of discomfort to reach our goals. So if you feel excited, it’s a good thing. indicator that you’re still in fantasy. And you haven’t truly engaged with the reality of what it’s going to take to make your goal come to life. So asking yourself questions like, how is this going to go for me specifically? How has this gone in the past? How much time will this take me? What will I likely feel when I’m doing this? What preparation do I need to make sure that I do in order to get this done? What support do I need to put in place to make sure that I have what I need? How can I make this easier or more smooth for myself?

Those questions are going to be really important as you plan out realistic goals. I like my goal of doing a series on executive functions. I think it’s great. I think you’re going to really benefit from it. I think it’s going to be concise and easy. I think it’ll be really searchable in the podcast feeds, I think it’ll just be a really good thing. And I think it’s a good goal, because it’s needed, it’ll be valuable. But the reality of what’s involved feels awful to me right now. And that’s my work. My work moving forward to manage over the next few weeks is, am I willing to tolerate the discomfort required to accomplish this goal? Today? The answer was now I couldn’t do it. I could not do it. But I’m going to set aside some time to think it through to really plan out what it would require. And I’m going to do a pretty simple cost benefit analysis, will the cost be greater than the benefit? Or will the benefit outweigh the cost? And when I engage with that question, right now, I know that long term, the benefit will outweigh the cost. I know it will. But right now, today, it just didn’t feel that way. And so I need to do some work around that so I can make sure that I have everything in place to get this series out for you.

So stay tuned and stay in reality with your goals. I’ll talk to you next week. If you’re being treated for your ADHD, but you still don’t feel like you’re reaching your potential you’ve got to join focused. It’s my monthly coaching membership where I teach you how to tame your wild thoughts and create the life that you’ve always wanted. No matter what season of life you’re in or where you are in the world focused is for you. All materials and call recordings are stored in the site for you to access at your convenience. Go to Ihaveadhd.com/focus for all the info.

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