ADHD and how it impacts motivation

ADHD Assist
3 min readDec 27, 2022

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can affect an individual’s ability to pay attention, control impulsive behaviours, and regulate their activity levels.

These symptoms can make it difficult for individuals with ADHD to stay motivated and engaged in tasks, particularly those that require sustained attention and focus.

The factors that usually motivate someone with ADHD:

  • Interest
  • Novelty
  • Challenge or competition
  • Urgency

The pathophysiology behind ADHD involves lower-than-normal dopamine levels.

Dopamine is the neurotransmitter (brain messenger) of focus, motivation and pursuit. So with lower levels can come lower motivation.

Some strategies to help individuals with ADHD improve their motivation and ability to complete tasks:

First and foremost: Address overwhelm

  • If you are in a state of overwhelm, this can lead to a complete system shutdown. Sitting on the couch and binging Netflix for days on end — sound familiar? This is a plea from your body to relax. Focusing on nervous system calming activities like deep breathing, meditation, spending time in nature, journalling, removing yourself from a toxic situations, and releasing pent-up emotions (ie. crying, screaming into a pillow) needs to be the priority.

Overwhelm must always be addressed first. If you try and move forward while overwhelmed, you will be way less efficient and may make yourself feel even worse.

Listen to your body. Rest and rejuvenate when needed.

After overwhelm is addressed, THEN you can move on to these tips and tricks below.

  1. Set specific and achievable goals: Setting clear goals can provide a sense of direction and purpose. It can also be helpful to break larger goals down into smaller, more manageable steps.
  2. Use positive reinforcement: Rewarding yourself or your child for completing tasks or reaching goals can be a powerful motivator. This can be something as simple as a sticker chart or a small reward for meeting a goal.
  3. Find a sense of purpose: Connecting tasks to a larger sense of purpose or meaning can increase motivation. For example, if a child is learning math, helping them understand how it relates to their future career goals may increase their motivation to learn.
  4. Use self-talk: Encourage individuals with ADHD to use positive self-talk to help them stay motivated and focused. For example, telling themselves “I can do this” or “I am capable” can help to increase confidence and motivation.
  5. Seek support: It can be helpful to work with a therapist or coach to develop strategies for increasing motivation and overcoming challenges. Support from family and friends can also be important in helping individuals with ADHD stay motivated and engaged.

It’s worth noting that motivation can be a complex and multi-faceted issue. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, and what works for one person may not work for another.

If you struggle to stay motivated or have difficulty motivating yourself or your child, it may be helpful to speak with a healthcare provider or a mental health professional for additional support and guidance.



ADHD Assist

160K+ followers on TikTok @adhd_assist. Talking shop about ADHD and natural solutions that can help improve our lives.