Using External Motivators and Tools

I hear something like this from my clients, family, and friends over and over again, “I should be able to do this on my own automatically. I don’t want to rely on an external motivator or tool or reward…”

It makes me wonder… is there really anything wrong with having some sort of external source of motivation or help? What’s so bad about it, really? What does it mean to have an external source of motivation? What’s wrong with having an external tool help you with remember things? What are you telling yourself about needing one? Is it true?

You’re the expert in your own life, so if you don’t want to rely on external motivations, then that’s your prerogative. I just want to possibly bring awareness as to why one might think an external motivator is a negative thing, as so many people seem to think it is.

Creating a new habit or routine doesn’t just happen overnight for anyone, whether you have ADHD or not. It takes time to reprogram and remember the new thing(s). Is it really so bad to set some sort of alarm or reminder that works for you when you’re trying to do something new? What is so bad about it?

If you have to ask a member of your support system- be it a partner, friend, family member, colleague, coach, trainer, boss- whoever- for help or for a possible reminder, is that so bad? Granted it may not be the most reliable since nobody is perfect and they may forget, but if they are there and want to help you, what’s wrong with letting them? How do you feel when other people ask you for help remembering to do something? What do you think of other people needing help? If there are feelings of guilt or burden, as there often are when people ask for help, perhaps ask yourself where that’s coming from or why it’s there? Is it based on truth? What’s happened when you’ve asked for help in the past?

If you need an external reward to motivate you to do something, like your favorite treat, watching a new show or movie, playing a game- whatever reward brings joy- and it will work, then why not do it?

To me, it seems that a lot of people just assume people are able to remember things and do things on their own with internal motivation. How do you know when someone is using an internal or external motivator? How can you tell? Does it matter? If it does, why does it matter? We can never really know what is going on inside another person’s head, so there’s no way of knowing 100% what is motivating a person to act. I think more of us use external motivators and tools than we realize.

If it’s judgement from others that is concerning you about relying on external motivators, then isn’t that just allowing an external factor to have an impact on your work anyway?

Eventually, you may find that the need for an external motivator goes away once you get your new habit or routine down pact and not need it.

These external tools to help one remember a new habit or routine exist for a reason, so if you need to use something you are not alone. Personally, I think there’s great strength and wisdom in knowing what you need to be successful and using all the resources at your disposal. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.

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