Ep. 3:3 Activate Motivation! “Anxiety…I’m So Done with You!” Teen Podcast

This episode follows Chapter 3, Section 3: “Activate Motivation” of Anxiety… I’m So Done with You! Whatever hopes, dreams, and goals you have are important. Anxiety wants you to give up on them. It tells you not to bother to avoid disappointment. However, that doesn’t feel good. Humans thrive when they have hopes, dreams, and goals. In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • What resistance really is
  • How to have a growth mindset
  • How to set goals that make you feel good
  • My best secret for lifelong happiness
  • You deserve the life that you desire. Sometime it might feel like you don’t, but you do. I’ll show you how to attain the goals that are right for you. 
3-3 Activate Motivation Thumb

When you decide you will fail something BEFORE starting it, it affects your motivation to do it. You hardly feel like there is a point in putting the effort in, so you don’t. So then, of course, you can’t/don’t achieve it! In this episode, I share how to get motivated for things you want, even if the reward is far into the future. You’ll learn how to make realistic expectations for yourself and take action to meet them. 

It may seem that you are unmotivated, but I’m not sure about that. In fact, you may be more motivated than you think. You are probably highly motivated, but to resist doing things. Now that you’ll know where your resistance comes from, you can override it. And then you can go after the things that you want for yourself and your life. 

“There are two things that spark motivation. One is desire, which is the why you want something and how badly you desire it. The second thing is expectations, if you expect that you can get it, you will be motivated to take tha action that you need to take to get it.”

” – Dr. Jodi Aman

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Resources for this Episode

@doctorjodi How to get yourself moving #doctorjodi #motivation #goforit #goals #clutterfree #clutter #depression #anxiety #therapytiktok #therapistsontiktok ♬ original sound – Doctor Jodi
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Transcription of Epsiode 3:3

Hey, you’re here with Dr. Jodi, and this is Season 3 of “Anxiety… I’m so Done with You!” This podcast is a teen and young adult guide to ditching toxic stress and hardwiring your brain for happiness. If you’re new here, grab a copy of my book “Anxiety… I’m so Done with You!” because this series goes section by section through the book, going a little bit deeper, giving more examples, and telling more stories. Season 3, which goes along with Chapter 3, is expanding hope by looking at your skills and abilities. 

You are amazing! You have many skills and abilities. However, anxiety does not want you to know that. It tries to block your view of them. But not anymore! In this season, we’ll bring them out into the open, giving you more access to them when you need them the most. As this season progresses, you’re going to envision yourself in a new way––as a person who is able, caring, confident, and determined. Thank you for listening, subscribing, and leaving me five stars on Apple Podcasts. Mental health problems are skyrocketing, especially among young people, and this series will help them cease judging, stop questioning, and start healing!

Welcome to Chapter 3, Section 3: “Activate Motivation.”

In this episode: 

  1. We will discuss hopes, dreams, goals, and desires. 
  2. I’ll go over how to convince yourself that not only do you deserve them, but they are POSSIBLE to attain (even when anxiety says they are not). 
  3. We’ll review resistance by unpacking what it is and what it means. 
  4. I’ll share why it seems to you that you can’t do the things that other people can do. 
  5. We’ll go over the growth mindset and how to set goals that won’t conjure a trapped feeling. 
  6. I’m going to share how you can follow through on them. 
  7. I’m going to give you my best secret for lifelong happiness. 

Ready to jump in?

What are hopes, dreams, goals, and desires? 

They are things you don’t have now but want in the future. Sometimes our mind plays tricks on us, thinking that we shouldn’t want hopes and dreams and goals and desires because then we’ll be disappointed when we don’t get them. It makes us try to avoid wanting anything in the first place to prevent that loss. However, we lose our spark and vitality for life because it’s the wanting and needing of things that keep us interested and motivated. Trying not to want something because you’re afraid of disappointment puts us in direct conflict with yourself. 

See, our problems solving brains want to be goal oriented. That feels safer to the brain, whose intention is survival. Your mind is trying to protect you by avoiding disappointment, and it has decided that you avoid disappointment by not trying anything. In other words, your ego does not want change. Your brain wants to change, but your ego does not. They are constantly fighting with each other, which drives us crazy. 

(I realize I am referring to the brain and the mind differently here. In some contexts, these words are interchangeable. In fact, I use them interchangeably in many areas of this series. Here, I am distinguishing the brain––the biological functioning and survival mechanism for the body––and the mind––which is highly influenced by culture, meaning-making, and fear. 

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Is it all bad?

That sounds like the mind is all bad (I keep calling it the monkey mind.) The monkey mind is the negative, overthinking aspect of the mind. The mind itself isn’t all evil. It can be motivated by purpose, commitment, care, love, and connection, too. The brain is the power behind the mind. You are inspired, learn, and grow in your mind. It is when the mind is left to its own devices that it could cause problems. When you take conscious control of your mind, things can get a lot easier for you. First of all, you wouldn’t feel as depressed and anxious. And also, you’d have the bandwidth to act on your hopes, desires, and dreams. 

Young people have a weird relationship with motivation. Goals, responsibilities, and tasks feel like an obligation. All too often, meaning is made around them as if those things are “traps” instead of opportunities. 

The conserving calorie directive of the young brain is looking for immediate rewards for tasks. However, many essential duties have abstract or longer-term benefits. The prefrontal cortex is fully developed in the mid to late 20s. That is the executive functioning part of the brain. It is where decisions are made, situations are interpreted, foresight is considered, and expectations are balanced. 

Everyone makes decisions by weighing risks vs. rewards. Young people with a less developed prefrontal cortex consider immediate rewards more readily than big-picture or future rewards. Tasks-with-future-rewards don’t seem worth the effort, or people procrastinate them since they are not prioritized. 

One of my Fav TEDx talks

I listened to Jennice Vilhauer’s TEDxPeachtree talk, “Why you don’t get what you want.” She talks about expectations, saying that when people want something, yet they do not expect it to work out, they do not take action toward it. Then, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy: they don’t get the thing. Unfortunately, the next time they want something, they use that past experience of failure to shape expectations for the future. 

When you think you won’t get something, putting any effort in seems like a waste of time. Also, the maladaptive thought is that when you put in the effort, the disappointment is more crippling. 

That is not true! You are disappointed either way when you don’t get something you want. You are disappointed the moment that you decide you can’t expect it! This causes you to have multiple losses: the loss of not having what you want and the loss of confidence in the future. This means that you are staying suffering in the guise of protecting yourself from effort, disappointment, and loss, which YOU MAY NOT HAVE if you expected to succeed. 

If this is happening in your subconscious (without you knowing), you could convince yourself you are protecting yourself. Unfortunately, the mind will rationalize decisions, even if they are against you. You might even positively spin the decision as if it is good for you to feel better about yourself despite not getting what you want. But also, another part of you is blaming yourself for failing (that same old conflict with yourself).

Can you override this?

You can override all of this with conscious decision-making and shifting your expectations. I realize that up until now, I’ve used the word “expectation” in this series when I was talking about unrealistic expectations or high cultural standards that we try to live up to and can’t, so think we are inadequate. Unfortunately, these perceived failures really mess with how to set reasonable expectations. This is a problem. If you perceived a compulsion (an attached need) to meet them, you might feel so overly pressured that you want to protest them, but that is akin to shooting yourself in the foot since it is something you WANT. 

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Expectations, in general, are not a trap. Reasonable expectations are good for our mental health, happiness, and success. They signify freedom. Unrealistic cultural expectations ARE a trap, and you can get rid of those. 

Think about something coming up for you in the next week. An event or a project, or something. Ask yourself: 

What are your expectations about it? 

What do you think will happen? 

Are you excited that it will go your way? 

Are you afraid it might go badly? 

Why do you have those expectations? 

What would happen if you changed those expectations?

When you change your expectations and expect the event to go well, you start taking action to support it going well. You are participating in the outcome. And then you feel less and less like a passive recipient of life. 

Two things go into motivation:

1) The desire. 

That is the “why?” Why do you want something? How badly do you desire it? The more you want it, or the outcome of it, the more motivated you are. 

2) Expectations.

If you expect you can get it, you will be motivated to take the actions you need to get it. If not, you will feel unmotivated (or highly motivated to resist it).

Resistance comes from our biological drive to protect our survival, pleasure, and freedom. Unfortunately, it is so often used against our desires! Resistance itself is not a problem. It can be powerful when we use it for ourselves, like when we resist the nay-saying anxiety, an abuser’s demands, a bad habit, and the voice of self-doubt, and instead stay grounded in believing in ourselves. That would be good. 

Sometimes you may look around you, and everyone you see seems naturally motivated. Thinking this and seeing yourself as lazy or unmotivated could make you feel bad about yourself. People are not “just naturally motivated.” Motivation is honed like a skill. It is something you can hone too—even me. People consider me highly productive since I can get many things done. It’s easy to assume that it’s natural or just my personality. If you saw me in action, you might think, “She must not struggle with procrastination or resistance.” 

But that is not true! I have as much trouble getting out of bed as the next person. I usually have to force myself to put my feet on the floor. To make a video, record a podcast, make a call, or whatever it is, my brain whines, “No, I don’t want to!” and I have to override it. In everything I do, I have to use my conscious mind to override that resistance. 

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Be careful what you think and say because you are listening to yourself think and say it.

My husband and I have a running joke when our alarm goes off. We whine, “I don’t want to!” Luckily, we love what we do, and get up and go anyway. However, if you think about it, that jest is a terrible habit. Our bodies and subconscious minds hear that and process it as true on some level. Even though we’ll be okay, it costs us more effort to overcome than if we didn’t make that comment. 

I was leading a supervision group recently, and someone called a kid’s behavior “impossible to stop.” I said, “I know you are speaking in hyperbole, but your body hears you say that and it will affect how you treat them.”

Another example was from years ago. I used to think about how little time I had given everything on my plate as a working mom of young kids. I constantly said, “I don’t have time,” to myself until I realized that I was creating that reality. Saying I don’t have time suggests I am a victim of not having time. That idea exhausted me and made me feel out of control, increasing my stress. Not having enough time became a truth that I performed. For example, I did things like spill my smoothie and had to take more time to clean it. 

What’s weird is that I was controlling my schedule and was managing everything okay, yet I still repeated, “I don’t have time.” It was as if I was saying it for sympathy for my exhaustion, and to acknowledge how much I was doing. To be honest, the phrase was stressing me out more than my business was. I decided to stop saying it to myself because I wanted my body to stop hearing it. And guess what? It changed how I related to time and created my schedule. 


One more example of this comes from my daughter who says that she is tired all the time. It is on repeat, internally and externally. When she says this to me, my first response is to validate her feelings. But when she continues to repeat it, I remind her that it will feel worse to keep saying it as her body hears it and is more and more disappointed and worried that something is wrong with her. 

Let’s talk about growth mindset. 

A growth mindset is an understanding that your abilities can develop and that your intentions and actions participate in that development. Having a growth mindset means that you expect that you can grow. 

The opposite of a growth mindset is a fixed mindset. This is when you don’t expect you can be successful, learn, or grow, or when you think of yourself as too inadequate to do these things. 

Teens with a fixed mindset are more likely to:

  • Think negative thoughts about themselves and others
  • Feel like things are not worth their effort
  • Fear failure
  • Rationalize away constructive feedback
  • Avoid risks
  • Feel threatened by the success of people around them
  • Be rigid about expectations, schedules, and plans

Do these sound familiar? There are so many messages in our culture that say, “You can’t!” These both come from anxiety and depression and cause anxiety and depression. You have the growth ability; you simply must remind yourself that you do. Adolescence is a time marked by growth and development. Massive growth and development is happening. When you are in it, it sometimes feels like you know all the things adults do already, but when you think back to a year ago, you realize how much you have learned and grown. 

In his 2005 song, Tom Waits says, “You can never hold back the spring!” You can’t hold back your growth. In fact, you will grow even if you think that you can’t. However, unconscious growth may not be as easy, rewarding, expanded, pleasure-producing, or advanced as it would be if you leaned into your abilities and believed in yourself. 

Setting realistic goals 

Let’s now talk about setting realistic goals. You’ll want to set measurable and achievable goals and something that you can achieve in the amount of time you have. When you have achievable goals and achieve them, it builds your confidence and sense of agency. Once you have those goals, here are four ways to motivate yourself to realize them.  

1) Decide to do it.

In a workshop I attended, the presenter told us to stand up and hold our pens out. If you don’t have a pen, pick up an object around you because I want you to do this. Hold it in your right hand out in front of you. Whatever this object is, try to let it go. Do you still have your pen in your hand? At the workshop, we all still had our pens in our hands. It was a powerful reminder that trying is not doing. Trying is just trying

People often use “trying” as an excuse not to do something. If you are aware that you are doing this, like if you say, “I tried,” or “I’m gonna try,” there’s often a hidden motivation to protect yourself should you fail. The trying indicates you have yet to decide that you want it or don’t believe you can get it. To circumnavigate this, you have to go back to the why. Why do I want it? Then ask: Can I get it? Then, start taking action. 

2) Write it down.

A lot of research says that using a to-do list, writing down your goals, or writing down a task you want to do increases your chances of doing it 11 times. Eleven times! Why aren’t we all writing everything down? That statistic should be so motivating! First, visualize what you want, then put your intentions down on paper. Remember to write down the little steps! When you only list big projects, you won’t enjoy the highly motivating satisfaction of crossing out your finished tasks several times a day. 

3) Start immediately.

Don’t hesitate to start! When you pause, your brain thinks something’s wrong and it starts overthinking everything. Overthinking encourages excuses that sabotage you. Hesitation puts a wrench in the wheels. You want to start immediately. Sometimes starting is the most challenging energy to conjure. Once you’ve initiated, the task is often easier to continue doing. One trick I use to begin a difficult task is to convince myself to “just start” or “just do it for five minutes,” and then, once I’m doing the job, it is easy for me to continue.  

4) Celebrate your wins. 

I’ve celebrated my wins for the last 20 years, which is the key to my happiness. I celebrate everything I do, which feeds me as nothing else can. When I do something, no matter how little, I say, “Wow! I did that! Look, I cleaned that corner of my desk! That’s awesome!” it gives me this boost of energy for the very next task. Celebrating your wins is pretty easy. You don’t have to do a lot. You don’t have to give yourself a lavish celebration or a huge treat. (If it’s a significant accomplishment, you do want to do those things. For example, if you graduate high school, that’s a huge celebration.) Otherwise, your celebrations can be small; even taking a pregnant pause and thinking, “Hmm, I did that!” can work. 

Putting it into practice

Through so much of life, we do a task and immediately think about all the other jobs we didn’t get to yet. When I finish recording this episode, I could think, “I have 18 episodes left to do!” But that would feel heavy and hard. This would get me discouraged, tired, and wanting to put off the next one. (Which would make me feel like a failure!) Instead, celebrating this accomplishment, such as, “This is amazing! Look at how many I have done already! I’m going to really help people with this podcast!” makes a huge difference. It gives me the energy that I need for the next episode. 

I was listening to Jennice Vilhauer’s TEDx talk about expectations, and I thought about recording this episode I’m doing now. I’ve been batching the recordings of this series that goes with my book sections, doing them all over a couple of weeks instead of one a week for six months. This has been a lot of work! I’m totally feeling the amount of effort that I’m putting into them. In this context, I thought about doing this episode when listening to Jennie’s talk. Then, instead of being overwhelmed, I decided to follow her suggestions. I said to myself, “It is going to go okay. It won’t take me long if I start. I’ll do it swiftly and easily because I can do it.” 

Previously, starting the episodes was challenging for me. That heaviness made it harder to sit down and do them. I kept wanting to get up and go do something else––anything else. But then, I thought about my why. That’s you. I reflected on what I wanted to tell you, pictured myself recording this and just speaking into this microphone, and it going really, really well. Then, I visualized it being easy, sat down, wrote my notes for this episode, pushed record, and did it! 

(I hope it’s okay! I hope you like it.) 

How much of a big deal is this?

Celebrating your wins is something that will make or break your life. They don’t have to be big wins; they could be tiny. I celebrate when I empty the dishwasher! It feels good to celebrate that you cleaned the kitchen; it’s incredible that you cleaned it. You’re not getting a big ego or anything. When you clean the kitchen and then look at it and think, “That is amazing! I cleaned the kitchen!” it’ll give you energy for whatever you have next. You’ll stay happy and stop ruminating on your “deficits.” 

If you clean the kitchen and then berate yourself for not doing your homework or cleaning your room yet, that’s heavy! It’s exhausting and will drain your energy for the next task. 

What do you think? Are you ready to celebrate? Celebrate this episode with me! I’m at the end of the episode I was planning and trying to have good expectations for! 

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In this episode, we 

  1. Discussed hopes, dreams, goals, and desires.
  2. Went over how to convince yourself that not only do you deserve them, but they are possible to attain even when the anxiety says that they’re not 
  3. Unpacked resistance and growth mindset (as opposed to a fixed mindset) 
  4. Talked about how to think about goals as something you consciously choose
  5. Shared four ways to follow through on them (including my best-kept secret for lifelong happiness: Celebrate your wins!) 

Thank you so much for listening to this podcast, “Anxiety… I’m So Done!” with you, Dr. Jodi. Please comment, share, and leave me a five-star review on Apple Podcasts. And come hang out with me on TikTok @DoctorJodi! 

We’re going to keep going with this topic in the next episode. Read Chapter 3, Section 4, “Activate Responsibility,” and I’ll see you there.

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