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If you are somebody who starts things but fails to follow through much of the time, then first of all, welcome to that club. This is me, too.
However, I have changed that about myself, and today I’m gonna share how you can change that about yourself so that you can actually follow through and do the things that you want to do in this life.
Follow Through Success Stories
I just wrapped up a live coaching class for Distraction to Action, and on that call we shared hacks for following through on hard things.
I shared my own secret sauce, which is putting skin in the game. I have done some pretty amazing things that I’m quite surprised I followed through on like a fitness competition, a half Ironman triathlon, and two university degrees.
These are all things that I could have quit at any time. In fact, I would’ve saved myself a lot of time, money, and energy had I quit, but I didn’t – and that’s because I invested $$ in them.
$$ Is My Follow Through Superpower
I don’t consider myself a frugal person, but I’ve learned to be very careful with money (after many hard lessons learned), so when I put money into something, it’s because it’s important to me, so I always follow through on it.
Social Support + Follow through
Another gal in my group did a university program abroad, and she said she never would’ve been able to made it through without the support of a local friend who she stayed with. This gave her the strength and courage to follow through.
Many others in the group also shared that they could do anything as long as they didn’t have to do it alone. And this points to the science behind body doubling.
When you have the presence of somebody else in the room, it can make boring tasks. Tasks that we don’t want to do move a lot quicker.
Another group member shared that she hired a virtual assistant for 10 hours a week, which forced her to get organized and figure out what tasks to give her.
Gamifying Follow Through
One of my favorite hacks that somebody shared, was incentivizing the journey by creating small rewards for milestones that get met along the way. Whether it’s a treat, a massage or a pair of shoes, this helps to not only celebrate the small achievement that you’ve made, but also give you that incentive to keep moving forward. Cuz we’re really bad at celebrating our wins.
Externalizing Your Structure
The common thread among all of these suggestions is that we all (unknowingly) set up external triggers in our environments to keep us moving forward. Whether that was paying for something (or someone) or just asking someone else to be present while we work through something hard – they are all examples of an external forcing function that will keep you on track.
Setting Up External Structure Digitally
Leaning on others is a great way to stay on track, but you can also leverage technology to help you as well. I use Notion for a lot of my work based external structure, the way I’ve set up my databases and just my daily workflow, keeps me on track. Because I store everything in Notion, from my to-do’s to my short and long term goals, every day when I sit down at my desk, the first thing I do is open my Notion landing page, and I know exactly what I need to do.
I’m fanatical about doing weekly planning sessions, which is my version externalized radical structure. If I don’t take time at the beginning of the week to plan out what needs to be done on what day, I just end up winging it and that never works well.
How to set up your own external structure
Having radical structure in your life is really important, but it’s going to look different for everybody. What works best for you will depend on your circumstances, where you need the extra structure and support and what is something that will capture your attention regularly so you don’t ignore or forget about it.
Here’s what to consider when setting up your own external structure:
Before Saying YES Get Clear On This First
When you say yes to whatever it is you wanna follow through on, be very clear about why it is you’re doing it and why it matters to you. ADHD brains are interest-driven, not importance driven, so just because something is important (like paying taxes), if it’s not important to YOU (and therefor interesting), you’re going to struggle to focus on it.
Many ADHDers commit to things impulsively, so they don’t take the time to slow down and consider why they are saying yes, or if the task will be interesting enough for them to follow through on.
I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to sign up for things and when the time comes for me to do the thing, I’m left wondering what the heck was I thinking when I signed up for the thing?
This step isn’t easy, because it requires us to slow down and be mindful and intentional about how we respond. And yes, I know … we don’t “slow down” well.
Anticipate When Boredom Will Hit (Because it Will)
Ask yourself when you commit - is this something that I will sustain my interest from start to finish? Or is this something where I might get bored and poop out half way through?
Many ADHDer’s lose interest just before they finish (around the 80% mark). This is when the task or project gets mundane or repetitive, or maybe you’ve forgotten your why.
So consider where in the process of your journey you might get bored, and how you can keep yourself on track with external structure?
Look to Past Accomplishments to Find Ideas for Future Success
If you are somebody who struggles with follow through, ask yourself this question:
When in the past have I followed through on something that was actually really hard to follow through on, and what was the reason why I was able to do it?
The answer to that question is a huge indication of what you can use in the future. And whatever you come up with, would you mind commenting below and sharing ? Because I love expanding on these ideas about what works for the ADHD brain so we can all benefit.
Thanks for following through on reading this blog post! Clearly you have what it takes to finish what you start!