This is Part Two in a series on how to do longterm projects. See Part One here.
Celebrate Small Victories Along the Way
In most longterm projects you will get to see some progress as you go. When you’re writing, you can see the word count grow. If you’re learning a new skill, you get to see your proficiency increase. These steps along the way to your goal are worth celebrating. In fact, the ADHD brain may need to celebrate them. We’re always looking for the immediate payoff. We want to be rewarded for our effort right away.
Look for the Reward
A while back, I was painting a room. I realized I was working slower than I could have because I kept stepping back to see my progress. If I had just kept working, I probably would have been done in half the time. At the time, I kept internally criticizing myself for slowing down. But looking back I realized I was looking for the reward. I needed the satisfaction of seeing that pretty color covering up the dreariness-in-a-paint-can that had been happening before. That little reward kept me going over and over until I finished painting the room. (Don’t ask me if there’s still painters tape on the trim, though.)
If I had realized what was happening at the time, I could have stopped criticizing myself and mentally given myself that accommodation: “It’s just gonna take me a little longer to finish. That’s ok. No ones timing me. It’s just like having extra time in a test.”
Let One Victory Motivate You for the Next
A few weeks ago, my husband and I decluttered under our bed. We got rid of most of the junk stored under there. The few things we kept, we moved to a new spot. Our room feels so much better, and it’s easier to keep clean and tidy. The benefits of that was enough to motivate me to move onto the next area that needed to be decluttered.
Today I taught my three year old how to put away his own clean laundry. We changed the way we’re storing his clothes, so he can now pick his own clothes in the mornings and put his own clean laundry away! I no longer have to put away my toddler’s laundry!! Seeing him happily putting clean clothes away motivated me to finish the same process for my baby’s wardrobe. He’s not ready to put clothes away on his own, but it’s still easier for me to keep up with laundry.
As I continue to declutter our house, I can enjoy the rewards along the way. Every cleaned out and simplified area of our home is a reward that motivates me to do more, even if it’s just a shelf or a drawer. Every improvement to our routine is worth celebrating and is fuel for the next step in decluttering our home.