You have ADHD and you’ve hit a wall. Your job is on the line, your spouse is screaming divorce, your finances are shamble and you’ve just made another huge ADHD mistake that might just be the last straw. You just can’t keep up with your life anymore, and you’re on the verge of a burnout. Whatever your wall is, you’ve already hit it, or you can see it looming as you approach at 100 miles an hour, and it’s all because of your ADHD.
I’m sure you recognize this moment. This is when the typical adult with ADHD seeks help, and they want it now. I know this moment well. I can tell exactly when someone has reached this point, because they write me an email or post on my Facebook page, “Help me!” Sometimes, that’s all they write! They’re so overwhelmed they can’t even explain the problem. Or they write their life story (usually in one continuous sentence!) and finish with, “So what should I do to fix this?”
You can imagine how difficult it is for me to answer such a cry for help. It’s not that I don’t want to help, but how can I? I suppose I could send off a list of “tips and tricks” saying “Do this” or “Don’t do that”, but that would trivialize ADHD and the person’s situation. When you have ADHD, you’re never tackling a single problem. No, ADHD is so much more insidious than that.
Each Situation is Unique
Even if we could narrow the focus to one thing, such as “chronic procrastination” or “disorganization”, each of these problems is so much more complex than we first imagine. Overcoming procrastination means more than applying any quick-fix, solves-all solution. Each ADHDer has a different set of circumstances, different strengths and different tasks they procrastinate. There’s no solution that works for every case. The same is true of disorganization. You may be disorganized, but only at the office. Or maybe your home looks like a tornado went through it, while your cubicle looks like nobody works there. You may be able to organize your space, but you struggle to organize your thoughts. Perhaps you have great ideas but can’t put them in order to write them down. Maybe you know how to do many things, but you can never organize them into a series of steps to manage a project. It’s easy to see why there’s no Band-Aid solution.
Despite a great desire to help people (and I do want to help as many people as I can) when I see an email or Facebook message that’s a cry for help, I don’t know what to do. It’s not a lack of skills or training; no professional, doctor, coach or therapist would be able to solve that problem.
So, that’s why I’ve created this series of article explaining how you can figure out exactly what you’re facing, and how to break it down into identifiable, definable, solvable(!) problems. Then you’ll be able to ask for help in a meaningful way that will allow an expert to give you meaningful, useful advice. If you’d like to start overcoming your ADHD, this will deliver far better results than yelling for help.
Decide What You’ll Work on First
Deciding which ADHD problem to tackle first is essential. You can’t work on them all at once. However, this will not be easy for any adult with ADHD. ADHD permeates every area of your life, with both negative and positive effects. Write down an inventory of your ADHD issues. I have a form that I use with my clients to help them create an inventory of the things they’d like to work on. It may be helpful for you to identify what ails you. Download it here.
You may find it easier to track challenges as you go along than to just sit and write the list. For example, as you go through your day, every time you see a symptom, write it down. If you waste an hour surfing the Web when you sat down with the intention of quickly answering an email; write it down. If you have a blowout with your spouse over the mess you left in the kitchen (again); write it down. If you realize you don’t have enough money to pay your rent because your finances are a shamble; write it down. Keep a notebook with you, or use your phone – there’s a free app designed to help you track your ADHD symptoms, called the ADDA Storylines App.
As soon as you have a reasonably good list (it doesn’t have to be complete – you may have challenges you don’t even know are caused by your ADHD), decide which ONE you want to work on first. Yes, it will be difficult to choose, because making decisions is also a struggle for adults with ADHD, so let’s look at that first.
But Decisions Are Hard for ADHDers
The best way for you to make this difficult decision will depend on the type of person you are (just one example of why there’s not one-size-fits-all solution). I’ve built my business by always considering each individuals unique situation, strengths and personality. I do this when working with clients one on one, and I’ve even incorporated it into my online training programs. Here are three options for how to choose what to work on first. Pick the one that fits your personality best.
Option 1: If you’re someone who struggles with ADHD AND with low self-esteem – you’ve tried so many things that haven’t worked, your belief in your ability to change is almost non-existent – or you really need to take things slow to avoid having anxiety attacks, find the low hanging fruit. That means, choose the problem that is easiest to fix but would make a significant (it doesn’t have to be huge) difference. Why? Because the biggest problem may not be something you believe you can tackle right now. Studies show that when you don’t believe you can succeed at something, you are right.
Option 2: If you’re someone who believes you are a creative genius and you feel confident you can change your life – you know it won’t be easy, but you’ll make – or you’re someone who needs to see big change to stay motivated, choose the problem that is the most present in your life. If you’re always late; choose that. If you’re not very productive at work, choose that. If you’re constantly saying things that get you in trouble, choose that.
Option 3: If you’re still not sure, choose option 1.
Your Mission on Your Way to Finding a Solution to Your ADHD
So this week,
Make a list of what ails you. I invite you to share some of the doozies in the comments box below.