Overcoming procrastination


I just joined scholars, and I’m taking my time exploring the site and seeing everything that’s here. I scheduled my first coaching call for Monday morning.

I’ve listened to Brooke’s podcast for a year and a half, and I’ve seen great transformation in that time through the concepts she’s taught and the other work I’ve done personally.

My biggest habit that I feel is crippling me is procrastination. I know part of it is just habit based (my brain running an algorithm), part of it has to do with living with ADHD, and part of it is the stories I’m spinning in my head. I recently went back on medication for ADHD after 10 years off, and it’s definitely helped a lot. But I know the bad habits I built over 10 years also need to be addressed.

I’m not quite sure where to begin my self-coaching journey. All my thoughts about the procrastination problem make it seem so big and scary. The truth is, there are tons of things I don’t procrastinate on. I’ve grown so much. I don’t procrastinate on my health or doing good things for my marriage. I’m still getting better, but I’ve greatly reduced procrastination around budgeting and paying bills. I don’t procrastinate on keeping my home tidy or getting the laundry done. I used to, but those things aren’t a problem anymore. Now everything is centered around my job.

I feel caught between pursuing these wide ranging interests (with ADHD there’s always something new to be interested in) and being responsible. I can get sucked into a research interest, and not perform at work. I know research can be both a joy and something I use to buffer.

I started my work life doing really meaningful non profit work. I majored in philosophy, and planned kind of by default to go to grad school and become an academic. Due to depression, ADHD, and crippling procrastination, I decided not to. The thought of writing a thesis, and then a dissertation was too overwhelming. I honestly didn’t think about money or what I wanted to make until my student loan payments kicked in. All of a sudden, making 100k a year seemed like something I needed to start doing immediately.

The career paths I was interested in required more education. And while I could have received a funded education with a stipend in philosophy, degree programs in law and therapy were expensive. I didn’t want to take on more debt. And all of a sudden the opportunity cost of 5-7 years of grad school making a 30k a year stipend for philosophy didn’t seem reasonable.

I grew up lower middle class, and while money was tight, I learned to be content. I also saw money come together in crazy ways as a teenager doing religious missions (someone once left $500 in an envelope on my doorstep).

All of a sudden I was an adult with nearly 6 figures of debt. My college accountant fiancé didn’t work out. I was supposed to get married, do non-profit work, and then be a mom. I was going to go from my parents to a husband, and that didn’t happen.

After being thrust into a world where money mattered, and I was responsible for making it, I got into sales. It’s been an awesome catalyst for growth for me, and I’m good at communication and connecting with people, but deep down I kind of hate it. Part of me wishes I was a climate change lawyer, or teaching philosophy at a university, or had my needs covered, but was doing non-profit work again.

But deep down I also want money. I want a lot of money. I want stupid, “I never thought this was possible” money. So I stay in sales because that seems like the best option for now. My husband makes less than me, and eventually we’d like him to stay home with the kids when we have them. I feel the added pressure that I need to take care of my family.

But I chronically underperform given my talent because of procrastination and that “I don’t wanna” feeling. When I want something, I get it. Which makes this so confusing. I’ve gotten fit, got the degree from the program I never thought I’d do, had the mystical experiences I thought only special spiritual people have, changed my mind, left my religion, dated the people I went after…. so many things. But when it comes to actually getting work done, I feel so stuck.

And I know I’m lying to myself when I think if I just switch careers it will change. There’s books I want to write that I never make time for. Creative projects I’d like to do that I don’t actually do. Complex things that require difficult action feel overwhelming, impossible, like I’ll fail, or boring. With boring and fear of failure usually being the emotions I avoid the most.

That’s a lot of context. Here’s my questions…

1. Is this the place for me? ADHD is weird because it inhibits proper functioning of the prefrontal cortex. I know I can soak up a lot in general, but I also think advice specifically for people who are not neurotypical could be helpful. My prefrontal cortex is a little glitchy. And I need advice that works with that.

For example, here are some things I struggle with:
A. Time distortion. It speeds up and slows down in ways that are different for ADHDers than other folks. This makes it hard to estimate how long a task will take to complete. I can also hyperfocus and loose 6 hours.

B. Frequently changing my mind about what I want, like, pursue, or think it’s the next best step. There’s always a shiny new thing that I want to go after. Shifting all the time is obviously bad for progress.

C. Difficulty prioritizing. This is better with medication, but I can look at a list and genuinely not know how to prioritize because everything looks equally urgent and important to me. So I end up making decisions about who will be the most mad if something doesn’t get done right away.

2. Where do I start? How do I move beyond the wall of awful and actually produce and work again?