How often do you find yourself stuck before you start?
Maybe you want to launch a YouTube channel, but you’re too anxious to put yourself out there.
Or you want to wake up earlier to write your book, but you dread getting out of bed.
Or maybe you want to honor the schedule you created, but you feel incredible resistance when it’s time to follow through.
You’ve been there, right?
Your brain thinks something like, “this is way too complicated.” Or “I don’t know where to start.” Or “there is too much to do; I can’t stick to this schedule today.”
And since you feel anxious, overwhelmed, or stressed before you do the thing, you stay in inaction.
You don’t move forward.
If this sounds familiar, then you’re going to love episode 101 of the I’m Busy Being Awesome podcast.
We’re talking about a powerful way to work through these emotional barriers so you can stop procrastinating and get things done.
Are you ready to give it a try?
Listen to the episode above, or stream it on your favorite podcasting app here:
Prefer to read? No problem! Keep scrolling for the entire podcast transcript.
In This Episode, You Will Discover…
- The critical role emotions play in productivity
- How to work through the uncomfortable emotions that keep us stuck
- A clear, step by step plan to take action and get things done
Links From The Podcast
- Sign up for your free consultation with me here
- Connect on Instagram @imbusybeingawesome here
- Get the top 10 tips to work with your ADHD brain (free ebook!)
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Episode #101: Procrastinating With ADHD? Learn How To Boost Productivity Now (Transcript)
Hello everybody. Welcome to episode 101 of I’m busy being awesome podcast. What’s happening? How are you?
I just returned home from a week in Minnesota. This was the first time I’ve seen my family since December in 2019, and it was some much-needed family time. And if you follow me over on Instagram @imbusybeingawesome, you probably saw some of the behind-the-scenes of that trip.
It was an absolutely amazing time. I had so much fun hanging out with my family. I got to spend time with my niece who is such an incredible little human. We went on some beautiful walks. We ate delicious meals. And we laughed a whole lot. It was just so much fun, and I’m feeling so incredibly grateful that I was able to finally see them.
On the flight home, I reflected on this a little bit. And I was thinking about the hesitation I had about traveling in the first place. Even though I’m vaccinated and my family is vaccinated, I still felt a little nervous.
Like many of us, I hadn’t been around people for a very long time. Of course, it was a little different for everyone depending on your job and where you live. But in my circumstance, I stayed pretty isolated for the last 18 months. I basically saw Ryan and everyone else was on Zoom. So thinking about being around lots of people in the airport and on the plane had me feeling a little uncomfortable.
First of all, I was thinking about how ridiculously awkward I’d be around people again. But also, I was thinking about how I’ve always been a bit uncomfortable around larger groups of people, and the separation from big groups for so long had my brain spinning out in even more worry-filled anxiety-inducing thoughts. And let’s be honest – that’s not a very fun time…
That being said, it was actually a fascinating thing for me to observe. It was so interesting to create some separation between my brain’s unintentional thoughts – all the worst case scenario drama – and what I deliberately chose to think and feel on purpose about traveling and being around groups of people.
Again, this speaks to the power of learning how to manage your mind and separate the thoughts from the facts of the story. It allows you to show up and do things that feel out of your comfort zone and keep moving forward. And if you want a refresher on what I mean about separating thoughts from fact, definitely check back to episode 87 Facts vs. Drama.
Anyway, I reflected on the past week and thought about the stress and anxiety that I felt prior to the trip. During this time, I also thought about how – for me – it was absolutely worth it. It was absolutely worth my feelings of discomfort in order to have the opportunity to connect with these people whom I love more than anything in the world. It was everything.
As I felt this overwhelming gratitude for finally seeing these people I love, and the joy I experienced from having that connection again, it reminded me of a comment that one of my clients made several weeks ago. She had recently stepped out of her own comfort zone in order to try something new, and she was reveling in the excitement and general positive emotions that came after doing the uncomfortable thing. And what she said, was “it’s the after that we need to remember. I need to figure out how to remember that “after feeling.”
And I love this concept because I think she’s right. So often the discomfort of the (for lack of a better word) “before feelings” keeps us stuck. The fear, the dread, the uncertainty, stop us from moving forward. We forget about the overwhelming positive emotions that often come on the other side of the experience. And because we forget about the “after feeling” we decide to resist the initial discomfort, and we stay stuck. And I’ve noticed that this shows up in so many areas of our lives.
Stepping Out Of Your Comfort Zone
It shows up when we want to try something new or unfamiliar. But it also shows up when we want to stick with a habit, or maintain momentum, or create momentum for that matter. In other words, it not only shows up when we’re experiencing different feelings of fear or uncertainty, but it also shows up when our brain thinks something is hard, or tedious, or confusing.
And let’s be honest, these thoughts show up a lot. They’re not uncommon. And when they do show up, and we’re thinking something is really hard or tedious or confusing, we start feeling either different versions of fear and anxiety or boredom, reluctance, or dread. And once we experience these emotions, that’s often when we feel stuck. We spin out in indecision and overwhelm and we generally don’t move forward. We usually procrastinate or procrastiwork.
But when we can remind ourselves to focus on the after feeling, that’s when we’re able to take the actions and see the growth and progress we want.
So today I am excited to share with you three different examples of how this lesson of focusing on the “after feelings” has shown up for three different clients recently. They each take a slightly different perspective. And with these three examples, you’ll be able to see how this approach applies to so many different areas in our life.
Then at the end, I will condense these ideas into some clear steps so you can practice this concept yourself. You will have the tools to get yourself moving forward, processing the emotions that often keep you stuck, and creating the results that you truly want in your life. So with that, let’s dive in.
Putting Yourself Out There
Now, I want to start with the client I mentioned who brought up this concept of focusing on the “after feelings.” We coached on her fears and thoughts about speaking in front of groups of people. And this includes many different angles.
So firstly, she had thoughts about the more traditional “fear of public speaking” angle that many people know so well. She gets very anxious before speaking to a large group. When she spoke, she either second-guessed everything she said. Or she would completely avoid the situation altogether, and she wouldn’t put herself out there to share her ideas. She worried about messing up or judgment from other people.
But this also included situations where she might speak in a small group. And it also included times when she’d have a comment to share and felt anxious raising her hand in a Zoom meeting to share it.
But at the same time, she knew she had really good ideas. She knew she loved people and connecting with people. There was just this block of uncomfortable emotion that was keeping her from getting those ideas out there.
A few weeks ago, she had decided to challenge herself to feel those uncomfortable feelings and do the thing anyway. She decided to go all-in. She shared her ideas and had her own back knowing she would be okay with that whatever happened.
And it was the next day that we had our coaching call. And it was so fun to see her on cloud nine. It was so fun to see the excitement and joy and pride that she felt in herself because she was willing to do the uncomfortable thing. Because she was willing to feel – in her situation anxiety as she thought about potential judgment from everybody listening to her speak – she was able to experience so many more positive emotions for days after the fact.
She felt a connection with the group of people who listened. She felt encouraged and supported as she shared her ideas and built up her belief in herself. And she experienced the thrill of doing something outside of her comfort zone but that also supported her larger goals of inspiring and serving others.
It was when she tapped into that truth – that realization – that 30 minutes of anticipation or discomfort is worth the incredible feeling of accomplishment and excitement and connection and pride that she experienced on the other side of the fear.
And this “knowing” made her feel so much more confident and willing to do it again. It helped her shift into a new belief that she can absolutely do hard things. She is absolutely willing to put herself out there in front of other people with the fear of judgment because it felt so incredible on the other side. The “after feeling” was totally worth it.
The second example that came up recently was with another client working on her summer health goals. She created a meal plan for herself, and she is challenging herself to stick with it.
Now in this situation, it’s not necessarily fear that’s keeping her stuck. She’s not worried about what others will think of her. Instead, the uncomfortable emotion that she had to work through was the urge or the desire for the comfort of her old favorite foods.
In other words, she has to be open and willing to feel the discomfort of sticking with the meal plan that she designed for herself rather than falling into the familiar easy habits her brain is used to. And this is true for any new habit that we’re sticking with, right?
We have to be willing to step into the discomfort of the unfamiliar. We have to allow that urge or that strong desire to be there without grabbing the extra bar of chocolate. Without scrolling on social media when we planned to work. Without buying the thing we don’t need on Amazon. We have to allow the urge to be there without acting on it. And this is not easy, friends. This feels terrible.
Allow the Urge
And I know you’ve felt that urge before. You’ve felt that impulse to do the thing, buy the thing, eat the thing. That urge is so strong. And when we learn to allow it without acting on it, that is everything. That is the power move.
When we learn to have control over our toddler brain that wants instant gratification in the moment. And when we allow the executive brain – the prefrontal cortex – to maintain control over the situation. That is when we step into the “after feeling.”
For my client, she had to learn to sit with that discomfort. She knows that her typical food protocol does not make her feel good. She knows it makes her brain feel foggy and her body feels sluggish. But when that toddler brain throws a tantrum, it can be hard to resist.
However, when she opened up to willingness. When she opened up and allowed herself to sit with that urge and let it pass, that was when she got to the after feeling. That was when she experienced incredible pride in herself for sticking with a plan that she truly wants. And not only that, her body felt so much better too, which was the original reason why she created the meal plan in the first place.
And that’s one of the beautiful bonuses about working for this “after feeling.” You get so many amazing strategic by-products that come alongside your main goal. For example, my client is not only learning how to create a meal plan and follow it so that her body feels good, but she is also learning how to allow urges in her body. She is learning how to sit with uncomfortable emotions. She is learning how to do hard things and move forward and grow. And these are skills that she can take and apply to any area in her life.
In fact, you can probably find evidence for this concept yourself. Think about a goal you worked super hard to reach. Or a habit that you challenged yourself to establish. When you reached that end goal or made that habit feel more or less effortless, you also have so many other wins as well. You developed a stronger commitment to yourself. You developed a stronger determination. And you flexed and strengthened your follow-through muscle. You probably learned new skills along the way, too. And all of that combines to create an incredible “after feeling.”
Now, of course, our thoughts create these feelings. But it’s so much easier to think powerful thoughts like: “I can follow through. I am a person who sticks to her commitments. And I can trust myself to stick with it. I can do this.” It’s so much easier to genuinely believe these thoughts when you’ve created a ton of evidence for yourself along the way.
And as my client built up her belief in herself that she is a person who sticks with this meal plan that feels good in her body, she started tapping into this “after feeling” ahead of time. So whenever she felt resistance thinking about sticking with the menu she planned. Or when she didn’t want to cook and felt the urge to order take out instead, she tapped into that “after feeling” of pride.
She generated feelings of accomplishment and strength and success. And she reminded herself of how incredible she will feel at the end of the day when she shows up for herself and sticks with her commitments in that moment. And once again, thinking of and generating that “after feeling” helped her follow through and stick with it.
Sticking To Your Schedule
The last example focuses on a client who is working hard to create and honor her schedule each day. And I know this is one that everyone can relate to on one level or another.
So first of all, she had all sorts of negative thoughts and uncomfortable feelings concerning the scheduling process itself. More specifically, she had thoughts like: I don’t have time for this. I don’t know where to start. This is way too hard. And I don’t even want to look got my list of things to schedule because there’s no way I can get it all done anyway.
Perhaps not surprisingly, these thoughts brought up tons of dread, overwhelm, stress, and confusion. Now I don’t know about you, but those feelings don’t tend to generate very strong actions for me.
Whenever I find myself feeling dread or overwhelm or confusion or stress, I end up spinning out. I jump from one thing to the next rather than focusing on what’s most important. I avoid the hard things and I start procrastiworking. And I most certainly don’t slow down to plan. If you can relate to this, you’re in good company. Not just with me, but my client as well. And probably most of the busy awesome listeners out there.
Additionally, my client would catastrophize even further about the actual tasks she needed to schedule. And as she thought about them, she found herself up against even more uncomfortable emotions as she told herself “I don’t want to do that thing. That will take too long. That’s too hard. It’s too overwhelming. I’d rather do this task instead.” All of which lead to even more dread, frustration, and overwhelm, which reinforced this negative habit loop.
So we started by shifting that initial thought loop about planning. She thought about the reasons why she did want to plan. And she started living into the “after feeling.” Now for this situation, she started generating feelings of clarity, focus, and confidence, which she knew she often experienced when she did create a manageable plan with clear steps in front of her. And by generating those feelings ahead of time — by thinking about how great it feels to have that clarity and focus when she approaches each day — she found it easier to follow through and start the planning process.
Now as I mentioned earlier, once we got the planning practice down, the next roadblock was actually following through. Once she showed her brain the power of planning, it was time to go one step further to demonstrate the effectiveness of sticking with that schedule and doing the things when you say you’re going to do them. Now for anybody, following a schedule can feel challenging. And for ADHDers, it can seem particularly hard – especially if the tasks on our to-do list are multi-faceted, or we aren’t interested in them, or worst of all, both.
So what can we do? How can we work through the dread and overwhelm and resistance that often accompanies sticking with the calendar? How can we sidestep the procrastination that often wants to sneak in right about now?
Well, I’ve talked about different ways to navigate procrastination in a handful of other podcast episodes. I know episode 60, 61, and 86 talk about it specifically. But I have not talked about the power of the “after feeling”. We haven’t explored the importance of thinking about that immediate reward — of generating the immediate feeling of accomplishment that we get when we actually do the thing that’s on our list when we say we’re going to do it.
Now, this may seem like a little thing, especially if you don’t have ADHD for ADHD tendencies and you can generally stick to your schedule pretty easily. But for those of you who can relate, you know how remarkable it feels when you stick with that plan and you follow it all the way through.
By calling attention to that feeling with my client and generating it ahead of time. And then continuing to generate those positive emotions every time she looked at her calendar and thought about completing the next task on her list, she had an easier time working through the resistance and doing the thing.
And of course, this reinforced the positive habit loop. Because every hour that she followed through on her plan, she got an immediate dopamine hit. She got that rewarding feeling as she followed through and did what she said she was going to do. And that creates such an incredible feeling of accomplishment and success. By living into the “after feeling” ahead of time, it allowed her to take action and continue creating that experience for herself.
How to Take Action
So how can you put this into practice? The good news is, it’s a simple plan with powerful payoffs. First of all, think about the thing that you want to do. Once you have it in mind, identify the feeling that’s keeping you from taking action and doing it.
Maybe it’s fear, maybe it’s dread. Or maybe it’s overwhelm. Whatever it is, identify that feeling. And then ask yourself. Why am I feeling this way? Whatever answer your brain offers you is your thought.
Once you’ve uncovered your current model, then I want you to think about why you actually do want to do this thing. Why is this habit or project or experience or goal important to you? And I want you to think about how amazing you will feel on the other side.
Think about yourself 1 hour after it’s done. Or think about yourself at the end of the day when you’ve stuck to your schedule. Think about yourself after dinner when you’ve followed your meal plan to the T. Think about how you will feel after you’ve completed the presentation or giving your speech.
Generate that feeling now and experience the physical emotion in your body. Remember, a feeling is truly a vibration in your body. So feel that emotion. Maybe it’s pride, maybe its success, maybe it’s accomplishment. Whatever it is, generate the emotion and truly feel it. And then take action from that space.
I’m telling you, when you use this simple approach and you act from positive “after feeling” of your future self, you’ll be quite pleased with the results you create for yourself.