04 Oct

Goal Setting – The ADHD Way – In My Opinion

I have ADHD.20150923_091451

And?  You have ADHD.  Carry on.

Yes, I carry on!

I carry on…..

  • Understanding so much more about myself
  • Knowing how I was able to come to the conclusion that certain decisions were great ideas
  • Learning why certain tasks are such struggles
  • Being aware of why I do some of the things I do
  • Working the processes I have put in place over the years, to compensate for this illness or condition

This is how I carry on!  Will this make things better for me?  Knowing how and why will not necessarily stop the decision making processes I currently use.  I need to learn new strategies.  Currently, I am in the process of learning new strategies with my psychologist.  New ways of doing things, new ways of thinking.  Designed for me, with my needs in mind.

Where am I going with this?  For a couple weeks now, I’ve been working on one strategy.  I can’t seem to incorporate it into my daily routine.  I’m going to make it a goal.  Very recently, it was suggested to me, by a friend, that I should set a goal that I want to work on over the next month.  She had great ideas of what would make a great goal for me.  All were relevant to me and all were things I’d like to be better at.  The goal would be announced to a group, so everyone could share progress and support one another.  Here is where ADHD and goal setting are like oil and water.

For various reasons, goal setting has always been tough for me.

  1.  If this “task” (for lack of a better word, at this point) is something that I need to set as a goal, in order to get it done, it means it isn’t something I enjoy doing.  If it were something I enjoyed doing, I would choose it as the thing to do over all other not-so-much-fun-to-me tasks.
  2. If I set this “task” as a goal, I’d have to actually remember that I have a goal, that I apparently wish to complete.  I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions.  To feel like a failure, year after year after year, is nothing to look forward to.  It’s not that I can’t come up with ideas for resolutions.  Anyone can do that!  And it’s not even that I don’t want to set one.  I’d love to be able to have a fabulous new resolution every year.  The reality of it is, on January 1st or 2nd or even six months after that, I’d have forgotten all about that resolution.
  3. Let’s say I set a goal.  And let’s say I remember that it is something I want to do.  I may even tell myself that I have to do it.  If the desire to do something else is stronger than the desire to complete the goal task, I will do something else. Without a thought, in most instances.  Nowhere in my mind is the little voice that I imagine says, “Stick to the goal, you can do this, think of how great you’ll feel!” Instead, my mind has a voice that says, “Great idea!  Let’s do that!”  In the moment, there is no thought of the previously set goal.  If I actually remember the goal, my mind’s voice says, “Who cares?  This is a better idea!  It feels good right now!”

All of the actions I’ve listed seem very self-sabotaging.  That isn’t the intent though.  I cannot get what I should say to myself to override my instant thoughts. This is an ADHD symptom.  You can see how it would affect many areas of your life.  Imagine the feeling that I’m left with after failing to meet goals, if I was lucky enough to have remembered them.  It is no wonder ADHD is not the only mental or emotional condition I have.

Another problem ADHD can cause is the inability to work well in a group.  The idea of sharing my goal with a group, in order to receive helpful encouragement and support, is a great one.  This would also add a layer of accountability.   What could be better?  I would have to actually report to the group!  I will have told myself that these people don’t care what my goal is.  Besides, I don’t care what they think, so I tell myself.

I have actually been trying to think of a goal that I could report to this group.  I want to be able to participate.  I believe it would be beneficial.  This morning an idea came to me.  Instead of trying to think of a goal, I should use one that I am already attempting to put in place.  By that, I mean the new strategy I’ve been working to incorporate into my daily routine.

The strategy that I can’t make “stick” is to practice breathing.  No, I don’t normally hold my breath and forget to breath.  Relaxation breathing, specifically I’m doing 7-11 breathing.  Inhale to the count of 7 and exhale to the count of 11.  Repeat until you reach your calm.  My psychologist suggests I practice this technique four times per day for two minutes each time.  Here is where goal setting comes in.

My goal is to put a reminder in my phone at four different times throughout every day.  The reminder will read, “practice breathing for two minutes”.  I will use the timer that already exists on my phone, set it for two minutes, and ta-da, I’m on my way to reaching a goal.  The purpose of this practice is to have breathing be the reaction to extreme emotion.  This creates a “pause” button.  A way to stop thinking at the height of an extreme emotion.  Pausing, with breathing, will give me time to change my thinking, prepare a different response, and possibly not need to react at all.

Just one second……don’t go anywhere……..

There!  Reminders are in my phone.  First one is for later this evening.  I look forward to the challenge of sticking to this goal.

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