Many of us are conditioned to think that “work” or “study” is unpleasant. These are things you just need to do to accomplish your goal. Worse still, many of us think we just need to buckle down and use self-discipline to focus and learn. As a person with ADHD there are few things I hate more than relying on self-discipline and focus. In fact, if I have a personal strategy for failure it’s deciding I’m going to do something just based on self-discipline and focus! Maybe you’re like me in this regard… but I digress. This blog is about enjoying the act of studying.
Have you ever taken the time to notice what your attitudes are about studying? If you’re like most people, you probably haven’t spent much time thinking about it. But, your attitudes influence your choices and habits. Take a moment to work through some of these questions:
What can I do to make my study time even more enjoyable?
What if studying was as addictive as my favorite phone app?
What if I view studying as a self-indulgent treat?
What aspects of studying do I enjoy the most?
What about studying makes me feel grateful or powerful or ?
Asking yourself leading questions is a great way to shift your perspective and open you up to change. If you build up your attitudes about studying and start making studying more enjoyable you can tip the scale to the good.
The answers to the questions will be different for everyone, but over the years of coaching there have been some trends in what helps people enjoy studying.
One aspect of the joy of studying is using items that make you happy. Perhaps studying is a time to bring out your fun office supplies and put them to good use. Maybe you have a killer sound system and you get to queue up your study music. Do you love your computer setup? Maybe you have a favorite mug and some comfy clothes?
Some people really love their study environment. They engineer their environment to include scent, food, drink etc to create a routine they enjoy. Other people may travel to somewhere they are happy. Does studying give you perfect excuse to find an artsy coffee shop with deep cushy chairs?
The underlying reasons for studying are what impact some people the most. Maybe you’re learning something because you want mastery in that subject area. Perhaps the skills you are learning are in an area that is of deep importance to you. Maybe just getting the degree is something that you feel is critical to you. Perhaps doing well in college makes you feel proud. The feeling of pride, gratitude, fate, whatever you feel that made you chose to study are motivating factors. Don’t lose sight of them because you have a bit of work to do. Feel the satisfaction of good work done *while you are doing it*. There is a certain satisfaction to working towards your dreams that is easy to miss if you’re caught up in details. Sometimes if you pause for a moment to connect to your driving goals you can gain joy while you work.
Often those of us who have ADHD focus on the times when they had no focus or had to study something dull and we define all of our study sessions by those more painful times. But, haven’t most of us also had a time when our focus was on, when we liked what we were studying, when we hyper-focused on something and lost all sense of time? The overwhelming response to a great hyper-focus study session is usually some combination of satisfaction, peace, and joy. Remember that you can and have had some nice, enjoyable, satisfying study sessions in the past and make it a goal to repeat those rather than thinking about the study sessions that were less pleasant.
If you are lucky enough to love learning, then studying can provide you with satisfaction almost by definition. At the beginning of a semester, take a moment to read or look at some of the more challenging content you’re going to cover or the projects that you will work on for this course. Take a moment to appreciate that by the end of the semester this information or skill set will transform from feeling unattainable to being something get. Allow yourself to feel the good emotions that come with growth. The reason many people study is for the joy of improving themselves. This can add considerable pleasure to your study experience if you pause for a moment to take note of it.
My final question to you, why not manage your attitude towards studying?
You have joy to gain and nothing to lose.