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A Closer Look At Procrastinating (Start, Middle & End) & What To Do - 033

podcast procrastination Aug 14, 2017

Welcome to the thirty-third episode of Harness Your ADHD Power, a podcast show I created to explore the many facets of adult life with ADHD and how you can learn to harness your personal ADHD power to become unstoppable.

If you’ve been trying to solve your procrastination challenges forever, without much success, perhaps it’s because procrastination is a “behavioral symptom” and not the real problem.  “Behavioral symptoms” are great because they tell us that something is wrong.  It’s just that we then need to look beyond them, if we’re going to solve the underlying issues that are presenting us with those “behavioral symptoms.”

It’s kind of like having a fever (the symptom) when the underlying issue is a raging infection.  I hope you’d be treating the raging infection and not just take something for the fever.

I want to introduce you to Professor Alfred Bandura, if you aren’t familiar with his name or his work.  Back in 1997 he said that self-efficacy is different than confidence.  Confidence is this vague term that refers to your “strength of belief,” but it doesn’t necessarily say where your certainty is coming from.  It’s like you saying, “I’m confident I can do that.”  I’d have to ask you, “What makes you believe you can do that?”  I’d want to know the evidence or behind the scenes knowing you have that allows you to make that statement.  I’d want to know where your confidence is coming from; the evidence.  It could be that you just finished a course or training on that topic or task, and understand it thoroughly and that is why you can make the confident statement.  That would tell me why you are confident.

Or, are you just saying that you are confident because you “hope” you can do it, but don’t know with certainty that you have the skills or necessary training, and hence don’t really know that you can?  Or, you might even know with certainty that you don’t have the skills but still “hope” you can do it; hence “fantasy or wishful thinking;” which is very, very common.  The differences are very important. 

Self-efficacy is you believing you will be able to accomplish a specific task.  It refers to both your capability level and your strength of belief in your capability level.  You are “confident” you can produce successful results because you are “competent” in the necessary skills, abilities or beliefs to do so.  Hence, Competence = Confidence.

A quote by Henry Ford is fitting here.  He said, “Whether you think that you can, or that you can’t, you are usually right.”

One of the reasons I created my innovative online coaching and educational program, ADDventures in Achievement, is because I know just how complex this situation is, as well as the many other challenges that those of you with focus, follow through and self-management issues face, and I wanted to create a safe and productive space where we could work together, both as a community group as well as 1:1, to ensure that each and every one of you gets what you need to sort out your own unique set of circumstances as well as the solutions to them.

Developing your Executive Function Skills and shifting your limiting beliefs is the fastest and most effective way to overcome ADHD limitations, find focus, gain confidence, and newfound freedom in your life!

My mission is to put an end to the worldwide needless suffering of adults with ADHD and those with under-developed Executive Function Skills - whether from ADHD, chronic depression or anxiety, trauma, addictions, or chronic illnesses.  And, you don't need a formal diagnosis to know you need help developing these executive function skills in order to greatly reduce your suffering.

 

Full Episode Transcript HYAP Podcast Episode #033
A Closer Look At Procrastinating (Start, Middle & End) & What To Do - 033
Monday, August 14, 2017


Today is Episode 33 with Dr B.

Hey ADDers! So glad you could join me for today’s podcast episode. This is an important topic and there’s a lot I want to cover in roughly 30-40 minutes, so pace yourself, and know that you might want to listen more than once to really get what I am saying and be able to take action.

If you’ve been trying to solve your procrastination challenges forever, without much success, perhaps it’s because procrastination is a “behavioral symptom” and not the real problem. “Behavioral symptoms” are great because they tell us that something is wrong. It’s just that we then need to look beyond them, if we’re going to solve the underlying issues that are presenting us with those “behavioral symptoms.”

It’s kind of like having a fever (the symptom) when the underlying issue is a raging infection. I hope you’d be treating the raging infection and not just take something for the fever.

In the earlier episode 004, I talked about what your procrastination is a symptom of, and that if you can’t get started or stay with tasks or finish up tasks, that you are missing something; whether it’s the ability to construct or see the path from start to finish, or perhaps a skill, strategy, support or the confidence in your own ability to achieve the intended results or get the task done effectively. So, where is that confidence supposed to come from, when you have repeatedly failed to achieve your intended results? Seriously! Well, it comes from “competence.” And “competence” comes from truly having the skills and abilities to do whatever it is that needs doing or you intend to do; rather than flying by the seat of your pants or faking it and “hoping” what you are doing will work. You are either “competent” or you can forget about feeling “confident”…for now.

To me “being competent,” means knowing with certainty that you have the pre-skills (or pre-requisites) to the skills you need to perform tasks effectively. And how will you know if you do? Great question! That’s why I created a little companion PDF download for this podcast episode. It’s a free download and you’ll find the link in the episode description on your mobile device as well as available on my website in the podcast post for this episode.

I want to introduce you to Professor Alfred Bandura, if you aren’t familiar with his name or his work. Back in 1997 he said that self-efficacy is different than confidence. Confidence is this vague term that refers to your “strength of belief,” but it doesn’t necessarily say where your certainty is coming from. It’s like you saying, “I’m confident I can do that.” I’d have to ask you, “What makes you believe you can do that?” I’d want to know the evidence or behind the scenes knowing you have that allows you to make that statement. I’d want to know where your confidence is coming from; the evidence. It could be that you just finished a course or training on that topic or task, and understand it thoroughly and that is why you can make the confident statement. That would tell me why you are confident.

Or, are you just saying that you are confident because you “hope” you can do it, but don’t know with certainty that you have the skills or necessary training, and hence don’t really know that you can? Or, you might even know with certainty that you don’t have the skills but still “hope” you can do it; hence “fantasy or wishful thinking;” which is very, very common. The differences are very important.

Self-efficacy is you believing you will be able to accomplish a specific task. It refers to both your capability level and your strength of belief in your capability level. You are “confident” you can produce successful results because you are “competent” in the necessary skills, abilities or beliefs to do so. Hence, Competence = Confidence.

A quote by Henry Ford is fitting here. He said, “Whether you think that you can, or that you can’t, you are usually right.”

So, if you absolutely know you are competent and absolutely have the skills and abilities to do something, then you can be confident that you can succeed. Or, you can “hope” that you can do something (which is false confidence) because you don’t really know that you have the competence (the skills needed) and so you might fail.

I think the point here is that there is a very clear reason for our failures and successes, which means we can change what needs changing, gain the competence we need, where we need it and increase our rate of successes tremendously.

And, when I say, “you can be confident that you can succeed,” I am saying this assuming that you have ALL the skills needed to succeed, including the ability to activate yourself, plan, follow through, and reach your goals.

According to Bandura, self-efficacy is not a trait that some of us have and others don’t. He says that anyone, regardless of their past or current situation, has the ability to exercise and strengthen their self-efficacy. In his writing, he offers 4 ways to build self-efficacy; I’ve added a 5th of my own.


· Mastery experiences

o I often talk about being a student of your own life; studying your behaviors, beliefs, actions and results and improving on your results by modifying what you do and what you believe.

o Bandura says that experiencing failure is important so we can build resilience to it. We can do this by treating every failure as an opportunity to learn, modify and measure our competence by taking different approaches.

o If we experience a lot of easy successes, it can actually hinder our future successes because we might develop the belief that results should happen quickly and easily and when they don’t, we are hugely disappointed.

o Mastery comes with practice; and so enjoying the process of learning and practicing in order to achieve mastery is essential.


· Social modeling

o I needed to find the right people for me to learn from in order to really understand what I needed to do and how to do it.

o This means you need to choose role models that can demonstrate their own self-efficacy; that you can see the evidence throughout their life.

o You can draw on role models from anywhere in the world due to the abundance of digital resources.

o You’ll want to remain open-minded and teachable so you can learn, practice and gain mastery.


· Social persuasion

o I needed to not only find the right people for me, but also trust that by allowing them to help shape my behaviors, I would succeed.

o Social persuasion differs from social modeling in that it is having your mentor directly influence your self-efficacy by providing opportunities for mastery in a safe and purposeful manner.

o Criteria for the “right mentor” for you is someone who walks their talk, practices what they preach, and that who they are and what they stand for is what you want for yourself.


· States of physiology

o I’ve definitely had to do a lot of work with my physiology over the years. Learning to regulate my state was essential so that my interpretation of my self-efficacy wasn’t biased.

o Your emotions, moods and physical state can definitely influence your interpretation of your self-efficacy. When you aren’t in an optimal physiological state, you might experience a stronger sense of “failure;” in fact, you might even believe that YOU are a “failure” instead of that you “failed to achieve” a desired outcome; there’s a BIG difference between identity and behavior.

o This means that your habits of sleep, nutrition, hydration, exercise or physical activity, socializing and such are very important to your optimal physiological state and hence your self-efficacy.


· Vivid imagery

o I’ve used mindfulness, meditation, visualization and other modalities over the years to “try on” a behavior or task or situation before I actually try it in the “real world.”

o Research and my own training has taught me that whatever I can vividly imagine with rich sensory input will be processed by my mind “as if” it is real. My conscious mind knows it isn’t real; however, the part of my mind that loves to play and imagine is willing to play with me while I “try on” various situations to determine how they might play out and if I’d like to experience them in the “real world” and how to best do so for the greatest likelihood of success.

o The short version of what you would be doing is vividly imagining yourself behaving effectively or successfully in a given situation. You would be controlling everything that is happening in your imagination so you can take a “test run” of your success. This is what many of the great athletes do; it’s a practice run prior to the event they are competing in so they can perfectly envision their success and all the steps to that success. In a sense, they are having their success in advance of having it, rather than envisioning their failure (which many do) and end up failing to achieve a successful outcome. They set their mind up for failure; not success.


Quoting Bandura: “Without a resilient sense of efficacy, people are easily overwhelmed by adversities in their efforts to improve their lives and that of others”

It’s very important that we practice our “inhibiting skill” as it impacts all the rest of what we need to do. We have to be able to STOP something, SHIFT, and START something else; so much depends on this skill or ability.

If there are skills you are missing along the way, there will most likely be a breakdown in your ability to succeed. That doesn’t make it a moral issue; just that you’re missing skills. And if you are willing to invest the time, effort and energy to learn them, it’s definitely doable.

Remember, not achieving your goal or objective doesn’t make YOU a failure; it’s only that you failed to achieve an outcome (which is behavioral) but you as the person aren’t a failure (which is your identity). Your value is still intact as a human being.

I’m a work in progress, just like you. I have failed to achieve many of my goals in the time period I set, because I didn’t really know what was involved or possess all the skills I needed to be able to achieve my goals when I wanted to. I would say I was pretty naïve about 6 years ago when I thought I could just do a massive brain dump recording of all the knowledge and wisdom I’ve acquired in the past 30+ years, and then convert it into courses and programs for you in a year’s time. I laugh now because that one-year turned into five years. There was so much I needed to learn that I didn’t even know I didn’t know when I started. And, I persisted and reached my first goal; it just took a little bit longer. The time was going to pass anyways, so I’m glad that I kept going.

We’re getting closer to today’s 3 important points, with relevant stories, an action step, and a favorite quote of mine. Let’s keep going…

I want you to remember that you are NOT what you do or don’t do; you are more than that. WE are NOT defective or less than as people – as human beings; we’re just wired differently and that difference is actually pretty cool once you have the tools you need for your own success. In this case, it’s YOU discovering whatever pre-skills or pieces of information you might be missing, being open to learning and mastering them so you can skillfully move forward, and enjoy greater happiness and success in your life.

Please understand that unpacking very complicated issues takes time, effort and energy and the ability to self-reflect on what you find. Don’t allow yourself to become overwhelmed in the process; rather take your time and be thorough. That way you won’t have to swing back around and investigate all over again. Seriously!! If you didn’t have the benefit of learning this stuff growing up, you can’t expect yourself to master it overnight. Well you can expect it like I did, but that would be silly. Each piece of this process builds on what comes before it, so don’t skip anything, looking for a shortcut; there just aren’t any if you want to master whatever you’re missing. It takes lots and lots of practice to achieve mastery, and it is so worth it!

In this episode, I’m going to dig deeper into the procrastination puzzle and piece together a different way of looking at this “symptom” that can get you into action instead of sitting and waiting for the block to pass.

How much time do we have? Not much. So let’s get to it.


Today’s 3 important points are:

1. Procrastinating when it’s time to get started

2. Procrastinating continuing with the task or assignment

3. Procrastinating finishing up and moving on to whatever is next


Now back to being an adult with ADHD in today’s world.

It’s almost story time but first, YOU need a WIN. You need to remember and acknowledge and celebrate at least one thing that is good about you or has gone right for you today, just one thing. Perhaps you’ll be able to show up live for the Q & A in the community group tonight; that’s a WIN. Or maybe you’ve reached out to me for support as a community member; certainly a WIN. Or perhaps you’ve decided to start a gratitude journal and write down all that you’re grateful for each day before going to sleep; that’s definitely a WIN. Whatever you choose is up to you; however, I want you to choose something and celebrate it right now – either a loud or to yourself. I want you to feel the WIN and acknowledge that at least one thing has gone right in your day, is right about you, even if you are procrastinating on just about everything in your life right now. So what? That doesn’t take away from the fact that at least one thing has gone right today or is right with you. You are a precious child of the universe; and are called a “human being” not a “human doing” for good reason. You don’t have to earn your value; you were born with it. You’re value comes from “who” you are; not what you do. Got it?

The reasons you procrastinate, when and where you do, will reveal themselves soon enough. In the meantime, I’m going to share three stories with you as well as talk about your responsibility in this, since you’ve got some work to do. I hope at least one of these stories will resonate with you and be of benefit. So let’s keep going.


Shifting gears to our first story:

· Becky had so many things that were urgent in her life and just didn’t know where to start. Should she get her bills current since she had the money now or be updating her resume because she really wanted to get herself a better job or maybe she should focus on getting her home organized because no room was clutter-free and she couldn’t think straight with so much stuff everywhere or perhaps she should look at the months of mail that was sitting here and there and most of it hadn’t even been opened yet, let alone attended to, and there might be important stuff she needed to know about or….the list of what needed doing just keep going on and on.

· Becky “appeared” to be procrastinating because she truly didn’t know where to start and hence she couldn’t get started with anything on the list.

· Some of you might be thinking, just start anywhere, since it all needs doing. I guess you could think that way, but that just didn’t work for Becky. The fact that she believed there was a right place to start had paralyzed her, because she didn’t know where that “right place” to start was. She had no skills for triaging all the things that needed to be done or prioritizing them into a sequence that she could move through with relative ease.

· She had no foresight skills to look ahead and see what would happen if she did A first or B or C, or to see what would happen if she didn’t do X right away, or Y or Z. She was trying to do her life with partial skills and it was dis-abling her; meaning that these missing skills made her un-able to do what needed doing. She was definitely frozen in a state of overwhelm and frustration.

· Becky desperately wanted to get her life in order and didn’t even know the questions to ask or who to ask or how to articulate what was stopping her. Whatever she had tried to say in the past had only gotten her looks from people that made her feel worse; not better.

· She knew she wasn’t stupid because she had pursued a college education and gotten her degree; in fact, she had actually done quite well in college. That got her to thinking… When she was in college, there was a structure, a course of action steps already laid out for her to take to achieve her degree. She could ask her professors about triaging and sequencing and prioritizing her academic workload and they gave her guidance. She could consult with her academic advisor about course selection as well as any accommodations she needed to do well and make the most of her strengths.

· What Becky realized was that her college education had not prepared her for life outside of college. That she was able to perform well in a pre-structured environment, with clear expectations and professors and advisors to consult with should anything be confusing to her. She used all of the resources at her disposal in college and excelled.

· Once she left college, life expected her to know how to do everything that her college was doing for her and more. What her college education had failed to teach her was how to gain the skills that the college staff provided her with; kind of the scaffolding that supported her at a “baseline” of efficiency that she could excel from. She had no idea how to “map over” the skills into her life outside of college because she hadn’t been taught the skills directly; only provided with the support.


Background facts:

· Millions of adults, who thrive in college, fail to thrive outside of college because they are not taught the skills they are missing in order to do so.

· Not only do adults need to create the structures and schedules and plans and accountability and follow through and rewards on their own, they need to set up the consequences and follow through on receiving those consequences if they don’t do what they need to do, when they need to do it. That’s a very tall order to say the least.

· What I’m talking about here is your ability or lack of it to self-regulate; in other words, to control yourself. To STOP when you need to, shift gears, and START something else when it’s time to do so. To be able to change your behavior in order to achieve a goal. To say “no” to you when it’s appropriate and “yes” when it’s okay to do so. To be able to get yourself to take action when you are supposed to take the action, without delays (provided you know what the action is to take and have the skills necessary to take that action step.) To be able to stay with tasks, complete them and move on to whatever comes next.

· I’m also talking about your ability to

o Remember what you’re supposed to do and when
o Have hindsight and learn from past mistakes as well as foresight to have a sense of had is coming and when
o Control your responses and not just blurt out impulsively
o Truly connect with others so you are engaged rather than aloof
o Self-motivate rather than be motivated from outside consequences or rewards
o Have mental flexibility and be able to see good alternatives should the original plan not work out


If you relate to Becky’s story, your action step has three parts:

o Focus – on identifying what skills you have and what you are missing, so you have an honest or real assessment of where you are starting from today.
o Follow Through – on determining where and how you can gain the skills you are missing in a fun and playful way (the best way to learn new things), as well as leverage the skills you do have and lead with them as your strengths.
o Self-Management – your feelings about having to do this kind of work “at your age” or “stage of life.” Better to know what’s been holding you back all these years and resolve it now than live out the rest of your years as an underachiever or overwhelmed and dissatisfied adult.

Transitioning to our next story:

· Taylor found it relatively easy to get started. In fact, he was happy to start things; many of them. He loved building model cars and had started about 20 of them; it’s just that he hadn’t finished even one yet. In fact, he hadn’t even gotten close to the middle of building out even one of the model cars he had started.

· Unlike others with ADHD he knew, Taylor had no problem getting started. He loved to just jump into something new and get started. It was exciting to him; the newness, the learning about something unknown to him and more. It was the keeping with things that Taylor lacked. He quit things because he “felt bored” with them. He didn’t understand that he was a “feeling driven person” or rather had a “feeling driven brain;” this meant he needed the ability to change his state when it wasn’t optimal so he could keep going. This hadn’t dawned on Taylor.

· There were things that he had started that he did want to keep going on and see how they were going to turn out, but he just couldn’t get himself to stay with things past a certain point. When he tracked his cycle of interest, it was about 6 weeks. That meant that if he didn’t keep going, stay on task and complete whatever he was working on in less than 6 weeks, it was over; he just wouldn’t keep going because he lost his momentum and interest and didn’t know how to fuel it and keep going when things took longer than anticipated.

· Like Becky, Taylor “looked like” he was procrastinating on continuing with a task he had started. He tried all kinds of incentivizing strategies to keep himself going and none of them worked for him. It seemed so odd to him that he could keep going on a task or project at work and take it the distance that was his responsibility; then hand it off to the next person to complete it.


Background facts:

· Like many adults with ADHD, Taylor was motivated by external factors; often referred to as an “external locus of control.” He could perform when he was accountable to others, outside of himself, but not to himself.
· Since it is said that those of us with ADHD are feeling-driven people, we need to learn about what that means and how to use feelings to drive us, when and how we need them to, rather than derail or stop us.


If you relate to Taylor’s story, your action step has three parts:

o Focus – on determining which feelings drive you and how long your interest cycle is.

o Follow Through – on beginning to build your “feeling library or resources” so you have feelings available to easily access and shift your “state” with.

o Self-Management – your feelings about needing to do things others don’t have to in order for you to keep going on tasks. Having strategies and tools that keep you going are worth the extra effort to learn and master.


Transitioning to our next story:

· Callie and Bob hadn’t finished a conversation in years. On the surface, it looked like they were both huge procrastinators, who would get distracted in the middle of just about every conversation they started and go off onto a tangent topic.
· Funny how neither one of them objected when this happened or tried to steer the conversation back to what they were originally talking about. So, over their 15 or so years together, this was their pattern.
· This communication pattern of theirs was serving a very important purpose; it was keeping them safe from what came next if they were to finish any one of their conversations, because each unfinished conversation led them to a crossroads point that was linked to what came next.
· And what came next is they would have some life changing decisions to face and make. Since neither of them felt ready to face or make those decisions, let alone even talk about making them, they each continued to distract the other when the conversation got too close to the crossroads point, and they went off on a tangent topic to keep things status quo and safe for them both.


Background Facts:

· Many adults’ link things together like Callie and Bob had done, which prevents them from finishing something, whether it’s a conversation or a task or achieving a goal; doesn’t matter. Because if A is linked to B, and they aren’t ready for B, they can’t let A happen.
· It’s important to learn to separate out A from B so that you can finish A, without feeling threatened that B is automatically going to happen. Rather, B happening will be by choice; not by being linked to A.


If you relate to Callie and Bob’s story, your action step has three parts:

o Focus – on how you have linked A to B. Unpack the sometimes-complex structure that was created to keep you safe.
o Follow Through – on separating A from B so you can focus on each for what it is separate from the other. Spend time reflecting on your fears or concerns about B and what it means to you; perhaps seek professional help, as needed, to gain the clarity you deserve to have on this.
o Self-Management – of your feelings about allowing yourself to get to A and finish with A all by itself, before you even consider going on to B. And if you move on to B, state management is essential as this was something huge that you’ve avoided getting near, perhaps for years. Take your time with it and be gentle with yourself.


It takes courage to look at the truth of your life and accept what you find. Acceptance isn’t resignation; it’s starting with what is and moving forward from there.


A Favorite Quote:

Maya Angelou said, “Having courage does not mean that we are unafraid. Having courage and showing courage mean we face our fears. We are able to say, ‘I have fallen, but I will get up.’” The question I have for you at this point of our journey together is, “Have you fallen into the trap of believing that your procrastination is the problem when there are actually underlying reasons why you have to keep yourself from moving forward? And, are you ready to get up and embrace this challenge with new insights and tools?” I hope so because it’s totally worth it!!


Since everyone learns differently, and has preferences for how they learn best, I’ve created many different resources with you in mind. Here’s what’s available:

· A free video and e-book about getting your ADHD needs met
· A free tips e-book on decision-making
· This podcast, with Show Notes for each episode
· The Harness Your ADHD Power Community on Facebook where I’m actively involved with the community members
· Live videos on my ADDventures in Achievement Facebook page
· Ask Dr B your questions for a podcast episode
· Reach out to me with your thoughts or feedback or needs
· 6-question survey to tell me what you’re struggling with
· My innovative online coaching and educational program, ADDventures in Achievement, which opens tomorrow, August 15th for limited enrollment. If you get on the Waitlist today, you’ll receive additional information today to know if this might be right for you PLUS early enrollment links to get started right away.


All the resource links are in the episode description as well as on my website. Be sure to take advantage of everything I continue to generate with you in mind. And please reach out to me directly if there’s something else you’d like to see as a resource, or something you’d like to tell me about this show and what would work even better for you. I really do want to hear from you, because your needs matter to me and I want to understand how to best serve your needs, rather than just guess.

No matter how you choose to have me serve your needs, it is an honor to accompany you on your journey and make a difference in the quality of your life.

Thanks for listening today and in the future. New episodes are released on Mondays and Thursdays. As a subscriber, the newest episode will be in your feed by 1 am Pacific time, plus you won’t miss out on any “extra episodes” I create; certainly a good reason to subscribe. Remember to check the Ask Dr B episodes for answers to your questions, if you asked any of me, or just enjoy all the episodes.

Please help me reach all those in need of this information by sharing this podcast on your social media, as well as with family and friends. If you’d like to do a little more, please rate the show and perhaps write a thoughtful review on iTunes; just a few words about how the show is helping you, if it is. I read every review posted and email I receive. I love hearing from you. It means a lot to me to know you life is getting a little bit better every time we get together.

So, that’s about it for today. If you want to download the show notes or access additional resources or services, you’ll find the links in the description on your mobile device and on my website, that is…if that’s of interest to you. Thanks for listening… Until the next time…Bye for now…

 

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