Monday, August 15, 2016

Adam vs Motivation: The Struggle is Real

My struggle with motivation is nothing new. In fact, if you go back far enough, it was the reason behind so many of my school-related arguments with my parents growing up. It always seemed as though I would rather be doing something, anything, else rather than what it was that I was supposed to do. This is, after all, the curse of being born with the specific combination of Aspergers and ADHD-Inattentive that I have, and it has made life interesting to say the least. Indeed, be it elementary school, or my graduate studies program, one thing has always been certain; it has been a constant war between Adam and his motivation.

It should come as no surprise that I’m sitting here writing this while coming off the tail end of a month-long lack-of-motivation streak. In fact, that’s exactly why I chose this particular topic to write about. In fairness, it has been a busy month; my grandmother has been in the hospital, I’ve had to focus my efforts on work, and so on. Even still, such excuses only go so far. They don’t justify my not taking even a moment to write a quick blog post. This is where being Neurodivergent definitely comes into play since all of this relates back to our good old friend Executive Functioning. EF is the brain function that controls regulation of actions and motivation, among others. In the minds of people with Aspergers and ADHD, this function is slightly impaired. I’m not using this as an excuse for my lack of work on this blog in the past month; I am firmly of the belief that one still needs to take responsibility for one’s own actions. Despite that, however, it helps to know how Executive Functioning impairments do make seemingly simple tasks more difficult to carry out in real life.

The Aspie brain has an interesting relationship with motivation. When there’s something we’re interested in, we can hyperfocus in on it to an incredible degree, and all other concerns (including time itself) seem to melt away while we work on our passions. On the other hand, doing hard work on something we aren’t so interested in can feel like pulling teeth. The problem is, life isn’t always filled with things we want to do and are super interested in doing. Often times, there are many daily tasks that we may not want to do and may try to avoid like the bubonic plague. This gets doubly as hard when you aren’t neurotypical, as despite all of the amazing gifts that come with being neurodivergent, I’ve long said that it’s a give and take...and this is definitely of the latter variety. The trick to coping with motivational difficulties is simply perseverence, in addition to finding other little tricks that encourage you to keep on keeping on with whatever project it is you’re working on. For me, that involves assigning myself daily goals and limits. I do what I set out to do that day and that’s it, no more, and certainly no less. It’s a trick I picked up in university, and I’ve sworn by it ever since.

Motivation is one of those things we all struggle with, whether we’re neurotypical or neurodivergent. No matter where you come from and from what angle you come at it, learning to cope with motivational challenges is never easy. When you’re on the spectrum, however, it can be even harder. The only advice I can give is, keep on striving. Endure, find tricks to cope, and most of all, believe in yourself. You are exactly who you need to be, and you can do it!

As always, yours in diversity,

Adam Michael