Maintaining high – or even average – levels of motivation is one of my greatest challenges in life, and I suspect that it is a key problem for many, if not most, of the people on this planet. You would think that our needs would motivate us, but I find that even my most dire needs are sometimes not sufficient to get me moving and keep me going. As a matter of fact, this can lead to anxiety and panic attacks, even depression.
Being on the autism spectrum can have its ups and downs. For me, this translates to chugging along fine, even excelling at something… until I get overstimulated and overwhelmed. People who don’t understand can really be blindsided when I suddenly “hit a wall” and just can’t get past it. People can be harsh and judgmental when their (often unrealistic) expectations are not met, but expectations are not always clear and well-defined. When the picture is too “fuzzy” I have a hard time getting or staying focused on any part of it.
When people see me, outwardly I appear to be a normal person doing normal things, but when I reach meltdown or shutdown point, the outward signs may be barely perceptible. It may just be the clenching of my jaw, or a look of intense concentration – maybe irritability.
When I have a meltdown (infrequent, now that I know how to avoid it!) or shutdown (exceptionally rare at this point in my life) it is time to back up and regroup. When this happens, in my head it boils down to a “system overload” and at times, a sort of “thrashing“. I use computer terms because our brains are really nothing more than a phenomenal biological computer.
I can be much more productive when my basic needs are met, and I am certain that income is steady. This is difficult to achieve sometimes, but not impossible. My goals and plans are structured to allow for my innate quirks and abilities.
I have learned to pace myself, rather than pushing too hard. People who are accustomed to achieving their goals by pushing past their limits simply do not understand that for me to do so will “break my mind”. This can result in self-isolation while I recuperate from the stress, and frankly: I’m tired of being a hermit. So I refuse to let anyone push me beyond what I know I can handle.
I do need to get in shape, but if I am to do well, I’ll need to find a personal trainer/fitness coach who’s accustomed to working with people on the autism spectrum as well as those who have breathing problems. If you think you can help me, please drop me a line.
Since my diagnosis with COPD, it is even more critical that I accept my limitations, because if I exert too much effort, my breathing will deteriorate, and that may result in a hospitalization – or it might even kill me. Therefore it is critical that I learn to “stay in my own lane” and do the best I can at being ME. I’m not competing with anyone on that score, nobody else is remotely interested in being me.
Do you struggle with motivation? Are you a procrastinator? What tricks have you found that help you to stay focused and keep moving toward your goals? Please tell me in the comments below.