This lack of a sense of success, if not the cause, at least helps explain procrastination to some degree. It explains why procrastination is likely to persist and even escalate.
I’ve written and read about the ADHD phenomenon that makes us crash when we finish something. A large project that requires a great deal of focus is something that should be celebrated when completed. And yet I, like many other ADHDers, can’t celebrate completions.
There is, of course, the letdown from doing something exciting. We’ve been on a high, we’ve been focused on something important and that feels good. We’re challenging ourselves and we are aware of that. Suddenly, that challenge is over.
Then there’s the added disappointment of realizing that everyday life will now surge back in to fill the void left by that exciting, now completed enterprise. And everyday life suddenly looks quite common and … well, everyday. The return to pedestrian activities seems like a punishment for finishing a big job.
Worse still, everyday life’s drudgery has accumulated in our mental absence. It will not only by everyday drudgery, it will be overwhelming everyday drudgery. The tasks that we’ve been absent from have grown to become a major project themselves. And not an exciting project either, not one we can focus on with passion. Nothing to celebrate here, I assure you.
And even if there is a reward, a bonus, a promotion, whatever, there is still the feeling that we accomplished what we did by a fluke, an accident, dumb luck. We’re unable to account for the accomplishment, unable to decipher how we managed it in many cases. In short, we feel like posers, fakes, charlatans. We are unable to feel worthy of our achievements.
I’d trade any promotion or bonus to feel like I deserved the credit for what I’d done. Okay, not really, but I’d love to feel like I deserved any reward I was offered.
No wonder we procrastinate. We want the excitement to last, we want the letdown to never come, why would we start anything, knowing how it’s going to end?
I don’t know the answers to a lot of this. I do know that being prepared for the post completion crash helps immensely. If I’m ready to feel let down, it just doesn’t seem to be as bad. I even feel a little cocky about it, “Ha! I knew this was coming!”
Knowing that you’re going to have to play catch-up with the mundane everyday things you’ve been letting slide also helps. In fact, I try to make that a part of the project. Although it tends to bring down the sensation of being a success, it also dulls the feeling of being punished.
And lastly, don’t be so hard on yourself. You completed something for heaven sake. You and I know that you won’t be clicking your heels in the air over it, but let it steep in your mind for a bit that you did something good. Own it. Be the one who did the job.
Then, if you’re at all like me, have a good laugh at yourself for feeling down about finishing something. I can’t help it, there must be something wrong with me if I feel bad about doing good, right?
Oh yeah, there is something wrong with me … I have ADHD.
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Last reviewed: 29 Aug 2012