Does anyone else get excited about a project or activity for a few weeks and then lose interest and not finish?
I was seeing a therapist for “depression” and basically feeling like I should be doing more with my life. Apparently I described textbook symptoms of ADHD and the therapist pointed this out. My response was that it was funny because my 7 year old son was just diagnosed. So she encouraged me to try Ritalin to see if that made me feel better. It did. I started drawing again and entering art contests.
After a few months I lost interest and started a new project. Then another. Then another. Despite being on Concerta I was still doing the same thing, losing interest and not finishing anything. I was never reaching the potential I thought I should reach.
Should I up my 18mg of concerta? Am I doomed to never be happy? I am 42… Is it too late to be happy? Should I just count my blessings? Being employed. Having 2 healthy beautiful sons. Having a happy marriage. Having good health.
Concerta helps me concentrate in the moment but it doesn’t help me stick with to a big project and see it through to the end.
I can’t help you with the meds. That’s something you need to get ironed out with your doc. BUT… a lack of motivation and a lack of persistence over time are classic ADD issues. So is constantly starting and then abandoning projects. I posted a Russell Barkley YouTube clip just a few minutes ago over on the “GRR Highly Suspect I Am” thread. (http://totallyaddconnect.com/forums/topic/grr-highly-suspect-i-am-but-questioning-assessment-she-suspected-otherwise/) It’s a bit long, but watch the first two thirds of it. It addresses your issues in some depth.
P.S. Russell Barkley is one of several eminent AD(H)D researchers. He can be a bit fatalistic, and that bugs some people. But he knows his stuff and certainly speaks to my condition—and other ADDers I know.
@norrinradd – Projects? Sounds just like me, and a lot of others here. I’m not sure of an answer, but I have a working theory for a solution.
1. Recognize that this is a classic ADHD problem and don’t start any new projects. Do not under any circumstances volunteer to take on anything that involves your time such as committees for church or school. Don’t buy anything along the lines of a new hobby or “starting a collection.” Don’t buy eight seasons of Star Trek to watch or the series of Harry Potter books. Beginning to get the picture? Someone on the site pointed out that having too many hobbies and “fun” projects is just stressful and defeats their purpose in the first place.
2. Make yourself a schedule of your time for things such as when you will exercise, do lawn care, work on cars, work on hobbies, deal with your ADHD created projects, etc. Use a timer to keep on track. (Cell phones work great.) Having a schedule and seeing progress will give you a sense of control and hope. Success will build on itself.
3. Learn that if you get it out, you need to put it back. Always. Otherwise, you waste half an hour or more looking for it the next time. Recognize that leaving things until later is an ADHD habit that needs to be broken. Recognize that a lot of problems and disorder can be eliminated by immediately spending only a few seconds or minutes of your time. Learn to recognize when you are getting distracted and get yourself back on track. If you can’t get back on track, be sure you are distracted with something on your “list” needing your attention and not the comic book collection from your college days.
4. Learn to recognize your ADHD behaviors and learn to deal with them before it gets you involved in yet another activity which will go by the wayside as soon as something else shiny comes along.
5. List out and prioritize your projects. Some you might want to get rid of if possible others you might want to make a decision that it will be put away for next year, upon retirement, or whenever. Having projects sitting around with no plan for the future is stressful and depressing.
6. Try to develop a schedule for completing the projects. Give yourself plenty of time. Break the projects into small easy to manage pieces that can be checked off your list.
7. Develop a list of things that can be done quickly in those odd times when you’re not busy. Like hanging pictures or taking out the trash.
Know that Concerta or any other med will not make you want to draw again but it may help you work through some of the things listed above. Also know that no matter how much you may agree with my list and how logical it seems, it also is a list of things that people with ADHD find most difficult to do. Expect to find the list impossible. It’s not. You may also find that if you are able to make your way through the list, that your desire to draw may return.wanderquestMember
I have 7 different rooms in my house with a partial paint job on them. Each was started as a separate project. There were 8. I finished the entire living room in one day because we had guests coming over.
I bought a desk to refinish in February. Now in October the drawers are half-painted and stacked on my kitchen table.
I have 3 tubs of fabric from failed to finish sewing projects.
My garden that I started gung-ho this spring is now overgrown and dying from lack of care during one of the best growing seasons we’ve had in years.
I have about 18 sets of pantry canister sets because at some point this summer I decided I was going to make a living reselling them on ebay.
The best I can do is really try and resist starting new projects, but they are always so much more interesting than whatever I was doing five seconds ago.
I take medication mainly for work and by the time I get home they wear off but I sure do manage to get a lot of crazy accomplished in those few hours before bedtime.wanderquestMembernorrinraddMember
Thank you for all the feedback. I just thought ADD was a problem with focusing on the current work at hand. I did not realize it was also affecting my ability to complete projects and hobbies.
@norrinradd -Procrastination and lack of follow through are a huge part of ADD. It’s my number one problem. I have at least 4 sketch books half filled with half finished sketches. I haven’t managed to do any real artwork for years. But in my case that is partly due to depression, and sometimes the medication I take for depression. I feel much less creative on certain meds.
@wanderquest – Your house sound a lot like mine. My dad started some renovation projects about 10 years ago that still aren’t done. I tried a few times after he stopped to get some of it done. But I was very sick at the time and didn’t have the energy. And then both of us just kind of forgot. I don’t even know where all the tiles and paint and stuff is now.
And every now and then I think of something else I want to start. Like the other day I really, really wanted to rip up the hallway carpet and go out and buy some tiles to put down. It’s one of those things I have “been meaning to do” for a long time. But I managed to talk myself out of it because I would have ended up just making a worse mess than what I already have to deal with.
I have yarn and fabric and beads and bobbles stashed all over the house too. Every now and then I find something and think “oh yeah, I was going to make a necklace with those…”
@kc5jck– I second the motion on the avatar. That horse could give people nightmares. And thanks for providing that excellent list of strategies for dealing with procrastination. I might get around to using some of them…..someday.Patte RosebankParticipant
Does anyone else get excited about a project or activity for a few weeks and then lose interest and not finish?
(I plead the Fifth.)
What you describe happens because the ADHD brain is driven by what’s interesting, not what’s important.
New things are exciting. When they become familiar, they’re boring. They don’t get our interest-driven brain functioning like they used to, so we abandon them for something new and exciting.
Or, it could be a case of not finishing, to avoid having your work judged as either not good enough (“I failed again!”), or too good (“Now they’re going to demand even more of me!”).
Sometimes, it’s both boredom and fear of being judged.
There’s an archived webinar about “Being Creative AND Productive”, that explains a lot about this, through one VERY creative & productive ADDer’s life-story: http://totallyadd.com/webinar-archives (Scroll about 1/3 of the way down the page.)
I used my ADD horse to kick off my annual series of Halloween avatars. (The cat is vacationing in the bay islands off Honduras until November. He goes there to hunt and fish.)
“Sometimes, it’s both boredom and fear of being judged.”
That sums it up perfectly. Exactly what happens to me. Thanks for providing a simple and concise answer @Larynxa.
Ah, I see. A horse with ADHD. And Halloween avatars. Now it all makes sense.
On both the subject of starting projects and the upcoming festivities…..
I have been saving pieces of styrofoam for years with the notion that I could use them to create headstones for Halloween. I got the idea after looking at the one I bought for something like $30 and thinking that’s an awful lot of money for a chunk of styrofoam.
I have had to rescue my would-be headstones from the recycling bin numerous times and been told off for keeping them even more times. But I refused to let them go. Yesterday, I finally got around to painting one.
Last time I was out shopping by myself I bought a can of stone look spray paint and hid it for fear of having to explain why I bought it. I was so insecure and nervous about being judged that I planned to do it while no one was around to see. But Husband came home unexpectedly.
Well, he came to see what I was doing while I was laying the tarp down. I said “I want to start getting things ready for Halloween” and left it at that, afraid to say what I was actually doing.
Then after I had finished the first coat and was feeling very pleased with myself, he came back and started. It’s the wrong colour, it should be black or grey, I should have painted it first then sprayed the stone stuff over top (which I had already figured out), and so on. Then I had to argue with him over his plan to repaint my headstone. I know it would look better with another colour underneath but I am not about to let the paint I already put on it go to waste and end up having to go out and buy more. This was supposed to be a money saving project.
So, later on last night, I set up a mock display in the living room to show what the finished product is going to look like, complete with ghost popping out from behind. Partly for myself but mostly to show that I really do know what I am doing. I was again very pleased with myself and excited over the ideas that came to me while I worked.
But after I was finished, suddenly I felt sort of sad, and the motivation left me. Just like that I didn’t want to be bothered going any further with it. And I started to doubt myself again, picturing how other people are going to react to it, picking out little flaws that I am sure everyone is going to see.
And this is how it always goes. This morning I was still feeling a little down about it. But then I got a new idea…
Holy Toledo, that is one long post! It’s a good thing I edited it to make it shorter before posting.
You should have told your husband that if he continued to criticized your project you would use him in the chainsaw massacre display you were planning.dithlParticipant
@kc5jck chainsaw massacre display –too funny! Your list…really possible? I don’t know…#1 and #2 sound like so much self-denial and making everything so predictable…I find when I get on too much of a “time-management” kick that the fun goes out of everything…no room left for whims or surprises, which are what makes life so interesting. Though maybe that’s just the ADD talking…I hate thinking about planning and time management stuff, even though it does make life smoother.
@wanderquest – love your description of unfinished projects. Kinda gives me a sense of relief. Though I assume the effect on you is quite the opposite.
@norrinradd – Unfinished projects…I grew up in one big unfinished project after another. Downside: a house that was always in a state of major renovation, and quite frequently a health and safety hazard. Upside: I learned more about really cool stuff than most kids, and know my way around a toolbox like anything. I have lots of unfinished projects too, but none that impact my family significantly (I think). At least that what’s I strive for because we all try to correct the mistakes of our parents (and make our own mistakes in the process!)
Medication – helps with accomplishing more chunks of a project in one sitting.
Strategies – help accomplish the entire project.
Here’s a few of my strategies:
— As others have said, I usually *try* to sit on a great new idea for a bit before acting. If I’m still interested in it after a week, and it seems doable, then green light. That helps, though it’s not perfect.
— start projects with people you know will be good for helping you see it through.
— sit down and chunk up the project — do an analysis of the steps involved, then break it into chunks of time . Eg. Day 1 — gather materials (be specific about where and when) Day 2 — clear work space (allow time for a dump run to get rid of debris from previous project) etc. Etc. Doing a task analysis like this might even make you decide against a project. Or, since you know you have a limited amount of time before you lose interest, choose one smaller activity that you should be able to complete within that timeframe. If you do lose interest, you will still have a completed “sampler” to look back on. If your interest is sustained, you get to continue exploring the activity – in bite-sized pieces.
–checklists are magical tools. For me, anyway. I draw my own little boxes. The legacy of my life will be post-its scattered everywhere with all but one or two little boxes checked off beside my chicken-scratching.
One other thing — it helps to think of learning as non-linear. I have started and stopped music lessons several times over the years. Each time, vowing that *this time* I will stick with it. And each time, sticking with it until my interest magically disappears. I can’t remember where I read this, but it really helped. Think of your learning as a spiral. If it’s something that you truly enjoy, you tend to come back to it, in one fashion or another, over and over again. And true, it’s a slower way of learning than just sticking with it, but there is lots of time. When you lose interest, that season is over. It will come around again.
And 42? Pffft. Never too late to be happy. 42 is The Answer, after all.
@kc5jck – LOL. I just might do that.
He really doesn’t mean anything by it though. He doesn’t realize the affect it has on me, how many times I’ve failed, been criticized, ridiculed, humiliated….and half of the time it was me doing the criticizing. Those voices are so firmly implanted in my brain that I usually quit before I start. And it doesn’t take much to convince me to quit after I start.
@dithl – That entire list seems undoable to me. And it wouldn’t matter how many checklists, post-its, schedules…whatever I have.
I am learning to resist those new ideas a little better. I just have to keep reminding myself every time I go to buy supplies for a new hobby or project that I can not do it. Not until I get the house organized and get some other things out of the way first.
Sometimes though starting a new fun or creative project is what motivates me to do the mundane stuff. I will do something, like start making decorations for Halloween, and that automatically leads to a need to do other things- clear the table off to make space to work, clean the closet out to find the paintbrushes, sort out the supplies I already have so that I know what I have to work with….etc. If the project is important enough, and it has a deadline, it can lead to a lot cleaner and more organized house.
That is, of course, until I start working on the new project.
I “grew up in one big unfinished project” too. The more I think about it the more obvious it becomes that my dad had ADD. I’m still wrestling with the idea that I have to forgive him for….everything…because it wasn’t all his fault. And worse, that I am just like him. 🙁
But on the plus side, I have two years to go before I reach 42. So I don’t have The Answer yet. 🙂
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