How can I actually follow through on promises?

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K_Kelly
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08 Dec 2016, 10:55 pm

How can I actually follow through on promises that I make to myself? I don't think I have it "in me" to follow through on any small task, as if my Asperger's or whatever other disabilities have me wired to be perpetually lazy and unfocused. Am I stuck this way forever? Can I change it?

Even if I tell myself "I want to eat more healthy" or some goal, my head knows that I want it, but my natural gut isn't feeling anything.

This is like, I will promise myself that I will drink several glasses of water a day, but I have problems with following through, even with a reminder app on my phone or any other assistance. I need help, because I feel like I am letting my social workers down by being unable to follow through on even the simplest tasks. I.e. hygiene, healthy living.

I find it kind of frustrating having to constantly remember to do something every day in a row consistently so I can "get good at something" or improve myself.

How can I overcome these issues? I really don't want to let the others in my life down. I also want to work on improving myself, but only if there was a guaranteed way that I can follow through and execute my goals.

This is one of the reasons why I'm unemployed at 25 and don't drive or have a car. Sorry if I'm having trouble presenting myself, because sometimes it's hard for me to process thoughts in words, even in writing.

I just want some earth-shattering advice telling me that I'm not doomed this way.



animalcrackers
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09 Dec 2016, 12:23 am

K_Kelly wrote:
This is like, I will promise myself that I will drink several glasses of water a day, but I have problems with following through, even with a reminder app on my phone or any other assistance.


Do you not drink enough fluids and get dehydrated? If the answer is "no", I think you should just drink water when you want to -- when you're actually thirsty.

Otherwise, maybe try to make the goal to drink one glass of water a day. Try to add the water-drinking to an established routine. So, for example, if you are already in the habit of eating breakfast every morning, then add a glass of water at the end of breakfast. It might also help if you started carrying around a bottle of water.

Generally, my advice is to just make the goals smaller until you find one small enough that you can do. Once you've established that small-enough goal and it's easy, you can scale it up or add a new small-enough goal.

So , for "eating healthy" maybe start with trying to eat one piece of fruit per day. I you find you can't do that, try to analyze what part of eating one piece of fruit per day is giving you trouble -- so, for example, if it's because you need to wash the fruit first and that's too much bother, then see if you can buy fruit you don't have to wash (like frozen or pre-sliced).

If you fail one day, that's okay. It's not a big deal -- the important thing is that you work at it. It takes time to establish new habits.

Hard as it is, try to ignore the people who get frustrated with you....chances are, they don't understand that it's hard for you, and would be nicer about it if they did understand.


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NikNak
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09 Dec 2016, 5:47 am

Good advice above :) Breaking tasks down into smaller, more manageable goals is definitely a good tactic.

You could also try if-then planning, it has some good support in research. An example is, "if it is 9 o 'clock, then I will have a shower."

I read someone used to replace the word "can't" with "won't" when concerning their inner monologue or outward statements regarding their plans and goals. Instead of saying 'I can't do x', they said 'I won't do x' which made them feel as though it was unreasonable to think this way and so motivated them to do the task (I'm not sure how a I feel about this one though I've tried it a few times and it seemed to work).

Also, look up SMART goals as these have proven effective in many cases.

Personally, this is something I also struggle with in my own way. For example, I see little point in showering if I'm not leaving the house and will only do so once I feel physically uncomfortable. However, as I WON'T leave the house without a shower I feel showering regularly might encourage me to go out more as I will be 'ready'. I have found making a list and plan for my day can be very helpful though I'm still learning not to overload myself with tasks.

Good luck :)


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Dwarvyn
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09 Dec 2016, 7:14 am

With dogs (no wait, hear me out here), the three big ways to train a behaviour are luring, shaping, capturing.

Luring is when you use an incentive (usually food) to move the dog in the direction you want them to move, and then reward them when they do what you want.
Shaping is getting them to do a small section of the behaviour and reward, then slowly add more sections to the behaviour until they have the entire thing.
Capturing is when they do the behaviour on their own without any input from you, and you reward them.

The advice already given above - to break down the tasks into smaller, more manageable sections - is parallel to the shaping tactic.

Luring - is there something enjoyable about the task itself that you can focus on? Or can you make an enjoyable aspect? Or, if there is nothing enjoyable about it, reward yourself afterward? ex. Eating healthier: is there something healthy that you actually enjoy eating? Maybe you don't like apples so much, but you love peaches? If you want to exercise more, put on music that you like?

Capturing - If you catch yourself eating something healthy, reward yourself! Even if it's just an acknowledgement (Hey, I'm eating some peas! Good for me, that's healthy!), that will associate eating healthy things with positive feelings.

The biggest thing to remember with these tactics is to reward yourself. If a task is 'necessary' but undesirable, you're more likely to find reasons not to do it, complete it, or to be lax on quality. Use whatever rewards work best for you. If you associate good memories/feelings with the task, that makes you more likely to do it in the future until it becomes habit. Also, multiple small rewards can be more effective than one large reward.

When I'm knitting, when I finish a row, I have a (small) candy. That's shaping.
If I have to do the dishes, I go play video games afterward. That's luring. I also find it's more effective to word this kind of luring with "can" instead of "can't": "When I'm done with the dishes, I CAN go play video games" as opposed to "I CAN'T play video games until I'm done with the dishes". The former gives you something to look forward to, while the latter can cause resent for the delay.
When I'm out for a walk with the dogs, I acknowledge the fact that I'm out in the fresh air getting exercise, and then reward myself by just watching the dogs walk (the way their legs and bodies move is just mesmerizing sometimes :) ).



Knofskia
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09 Dec 2016, 4:42 pm

Dwarvyn wrote:
With dogs (no wait, hear me out here), the three big ways to train a behaviour are ...


Do not worry. :D I think the same way. :scratch: "How would I handle this with my dog?" :wink:

When I try to use methods that work for PEOPLE, I usually fail, so... :D


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Dwarvyn
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10 Dec 2016, 8:46 am

Knofskia wrote:
Dwarvyn wrote:
With dogs (no wait, hear me out here), the three big ways to train a behaviour are ...


Do not worry. :D I think the same way. :scratch: "How would I handle this with my dog?" :wink:

When I try to use methods that work for PEOPLE, I usually fail, so... :D


In this case, these methods are manipulation, plain and simple. And a lot of people are averse to the idea that they can be manipulated, and get defensive when they find out that they are just as susceptible as pretty much every other living thing on the planet.

With these methods, the subject either has to be unaware that they're being manipulated into different behaviours, or accept it and be willing to work with it. It's usually when they get defensive and resist the manipulation that you see a lack of results (or the reward just isn't good enough). It's a lot easier to accept manipulation from yourself (you know your intentions aren't malicious), but it can still be hard to accept that you can be swayed so easily sometimes :)



Knofskia
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10 Dec 2016, 5:58 pm

My problem is that I need to do something consciously (in order to remember how, and to monitor my progress). But when I do it this way, I do well on these tasks, but run out of mental energy before I finish all my tasks. This is understandable, and fine if I can expect to eventually be able to do those tasks unconsciously.

After more than 6 months of remembering to brush my teeth and do it well, I let my unconscious mind try, and I did it poorly or forgot it entirely. :oops:

People understand that you might need to focus consciously on a difficult subject at school, or need a mental break after studying for several hours, but they do not understand the need to focus consciously on tasks of daily living, or need a mental break after taking a long shower. :cry:


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