Category Archives: Life Goals

Break Time: Knowing When to Pause

 It’s difficult enough for people who don’t have ADHD to maintain focus on topics that are of no interest to them; when you have ADHD staying on track with something that requires your mandatory attention feels maddening.

After too many years of struggling to officially finish my masters level thesis, I have decided to heavily decrease distractions from my life. One of those distractions is blogging. I have maintained two blog sites and have fallen behind in writing and posting on both. Each week “write a blog post” and “post blog entry” sits without the triumphant check mark beside it on my master To-Do list.

With every un-checked item on my To-Do list, I feel like a mini-failure. Internal questions such as, “why can’t I keep up with everything on my list“, “when am I going to finally be productive”, “why am I so_______ (insert negative self-image here)” cycle through my mind day and night. I’ve accepted the truth that sometimes a person’s (mine to be exact) To-Do list is a reflection of wishes and dreams and not necessarily a list of the most important things that need to be completed by the end of the day. 

The truth is my attention disorder helps me to be creative. I think of countless ideas throughout the day (and annoyingly, sometimes at night).  I not only think of many ideas, I also begin to plan how I’m going to bring these ideas to life. Not good. One, maybe two ideas are manageable, but when you have an active mind, too many ideas, and too much planning can get one into time management trouble.

Most of the time ADHD daydreaming needs to remain just that, a dream. Not a goal. Not a plan. Not an action. Keep it as a dream that had it’s big moment in your head and went no where.

Focus on a few important and fulfilling things in life and pursue those. Allow other distractions to take a back seat in your life. Being the “jack of all trades, master of none” doesn’t work well when you have adult ADHD. Maintaining a manageable and stable life becomes an unnecessary challenge when you take on too many side projects, hobbies, and interests.

So, I’m going to take my own advice (and the advice of others) by paring down my To-Do list and taking time to focus on the few most important and time sensitive goals in my life right now.

See you in the New Year (January 2018).

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

ADHD and a Not So New Year

 

january-start

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2017. I’m looking forward to all the great possibilities that will be presented to me this year. My hope is that as you read this, you are looking forward to the good things this calendar year has to offer you.

As I have been doing for the past few years, I have chosen to pass on making new year’s resolutions. Instead, I continue to choose one word and one verse to be my focus for the year.

This year my word is Ephphatha, an Aramaic word meaning “be opened”. The word is taken from Mark 7:34 where Jesus heals a mute and deaf man. The pronunciation is “EHF-uh-thuh”. My verse for the year is from the Book of Ecclesiasus/Sirach 1:23-24 (found in the Apocrypha) “A patient person puts up with things until the right time comes: but his joy will break out in the end. Till the time comes he keeps his thoughts to himself, and many a lip will affirm how wise he is.”

As a person with ADHD I’ve accepted that a New Year doesn’t mean a new me. The date on the calendar doesn’t mean anything. I and others with ADHD can’t make a New Year’s resolution to quit ADHD or resolve to have less ADHD. Our disorder is here and it’s not going anywhere.

no_new_year_resolutions

There is no need to give into the idea of needing to make changes in January or create resolutions that you will likely not maintain. Setting goals and making changes takes time; and waking up on January 1st after several days of over eating, reduced sleep, and keeping up with all the holiday festivities is not the right time for anyone to make unprepared life changing decisions.

Because I was like many people who made resolutions and forgot what they were by the end of the first week of each January that passed by, I knew that whatever was on my list wasn’t important to me. If I had considered these resolutions important I would have remembered them and committed to achieving them by the end of the year. If something is important to you, you will commit to it. You might not be perfect at it, you might have days where you fall behind, or struggle, but you will still be committed to it and it will show by your actions, not your words.

At the beginning of each January I do a review of the previous year. I pull out that paper where my one word and verse are written and the hopes that I had for the then upcoming year.

james-1_5

As you make your way through the first month of the year, try doing a self-reflective review of the previous year, ask yourself some of these questions:

What obstacles did you overcome?

 

What did you accomplish during the year?

 

What are some things that you learned?

 

What changed about you?

 

Were you satisfied about your life?

 

What would have liked to accomplish but didn’t?

 

What are some things you learned about yourself?

 

How would you rate the quality of your relationships (friends/family/co-workers) during the past year?

What were your hobbies/recreational activities/fun times from the past year?

After you review your past year, celebrate. Even if the past year was difficult for you, there is still something to celebrate. You are alive, you made it into 2017 and that is a gift that millions of people around the world didn’t get.

Life never goes exactly as we plan, and that isn’t a sign of failure, it’s a natural part of life. This is why I’m not a fan of new year resolutions; why start of the year with plans and goals you have no intention of achieving. Start the year off being realistic. With ADHD we have a tendency to jump from one thing to another, leaving many ideas and plans incomplete. The best way to have a great and prosperous year is to be honest with yourself and others about what you can do and are willing to do.

Whatever you choose to focus on during 2017, I wish you the best. I wish you peace, transformation, and personal growth; these are some of the most important accomplishments a person can aim for.

 

 

 

 

ADHD and Permission to Make Mistakes

Gifts of Imperfection and Adult ADHD

Permission: “the right or ability to do something that is given by someone who has the power to decide if it will be allowed or permitted” (Webster’s Dictionary) or in simpler terms, “the approval of a person in authority” (Webster’s Dictionary).

I’m still working through the book and O-Course, “The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are” by Brene Brown. This book study continues through to the beginning of May 2016. I’m thankful the schedule allows us to work our way through her writings and insights slowly, one week at a time.

In the first 48 pages Brene Brown covers the topic of shame and her first art journaling assignment is to have participants create their own permission slips.

In relation to having adult ADHD, I began to think about the amount of shame this disorder has helped to create in my mind. I wasn’t diagnosed until later into adulthood, and by then I had excelled in a number of failures and mistakes resulting in shame becoming a constant part of my identity. My list of shames included constantly being late, forgetting things I had agreed to do, unintentionally blurting out words that ended up causing others hurt feelings, struggling in the workplace, over eating to the point of morbid obesity, and struggling to get through my undergraduate degree which took me much longer to complete than the average student. In addition to ADHD induced shame, I also struggled with an anxiety disorder that prevented me from perceiving my mistakes and failures in a healthy manner.

What I’ve finally learned is that we cannot manage our ADHD properly if we do not give ourselves permission to make mistakes and learn from them. Shame is a powerful emotion. It is powerful enough to prevent us from living a more successful life as persons with ADHD. Shame can cause the following problems:

  • An inability to accept responsibility for the hurts we have caused others due to embarrassment
  • Fear of trying new things due to a fear of not being “good enough” or worthy
  • Anger towards our self and others; this sometimes presents itself by blaming others for our mistakes or perceived failure
  • Symptoms of depression or increased depression for those who already have it
  • Anxiety or increased anxiety in those who have this disorder
  • Self imposed isolation because of not wanting to be around others due to moodiness, blame, fear, or embarrassment

This list is not exhaustive, but it certainly shows the emotional harm caused by shame.

I am still adding to my list of permission slips as I increasingly realize the areas of my life where I haven’t given myself permission to be a flawed person. Even if you haven’t read Brown’s book I encourage you to try her assignment where you create your own permission slips. It doesn’t have to be specifically ADHD related, that was my decision after realizing the strong connection, impact, and association   shame had on this disorder. However, I do think it would be a great learning experience for you to write some slips that are specific to your experiences with ADHD.

For further information on shame and adult ADHD, I recommend reading the following links:

http://marlacummins.com/adhd-shame/

http://www.drhallowell.com/avoid-the-s-p-i-n-cycle-of-adhd/

Remember, you are God’s creation. He loves you exactly as you are and where you are in life. His love is not influenced or determined by our earthly achievements; as He has reminded us, His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. We have been given the ability to search our hearts and minds to know when we have wronged others and have been wronged. Embrace God’s daily grace and mercy knowing we always have the opportunity to get back up, dust ourselves off, and carry on stronger and wiser than before.

No Failure, Just Postponing Success

Below is a generic permission slip for you to print and sign, granting yourself permission to make mistakes without it leading to self-sabotage and self defeat.

Here is the permission slip assignment from Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection O-Course

“What do you have to give yourself permission to do when you’re doing something scary? Draw permission slips in your journal or simply write them down as a list. I give myself permission to __________.
Decorate the page by using colored pens or markers and watercolors to create the permission slips or list.”

 

Facing ADHD Failures w/ Christ

Success Cycle

Failure. As an adult, when you have ADHD, you become accustomed to failure. You make plans that are simple and easy to complete, but then your executive functions let you down. There are numerous reasons why your intentions and actions don’t lead to executing your plan. Over extending yourself, underestimating the amount of time something will take, becoming distracted along the way, growing bored with the required tasks, and other obstacles.

When you have ADHD, you need to become used to knowing you will fail many more times than you will succeed. An inability to accept failure will only make having ADHD more difficult for you to live with.

St. Paul reminds us to:

“Set aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such hostility against himself for sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3

To those who didn’t believe that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah, he would have seemed like a failure. They challenged him, they ridiculed him, they plotted his murder, and they watched him be sentenced to death and humiliated on the cross. Those of us who believe in the resurrection know that Jesus’s life was not a failure. We have an advantage over those who lived during Jesus’ life on earth. We have the joy of knowing how much Christianity has grown from its small origins to become a religion with millions of followers around the world today.

St. Paul wants us to remember the public shaming and humiliation that Jesus had to endure. In remembrance we draw strength for Christ’s experience. Jesus didn’t fail, but we have. We have a purpose on earth and having ADHD means there will be many detours, mishaps, mistakes, and failures as we live our lives with this disorder. Take courage in knowing that failed plans and stumbling blocks towards your goals are part of this life, and in the midst of disappointment we have Jesus’ life, sacrifice, and spirit providing us with strength to pick oneself up and carry on.

May God’s spirit and the example of Jesus be with you as you overcome failed plans and the resulting experience of shame, disappointment, and embarrassment. You have failed, but you are not a failure.

prayer disappointment

No New Year ADHD Resolutions

Welcome to 2015! The holidays are over and our schedules and routines have returned to normal. For those of us with ADHD, the Christmas season can easily become an overwhelming time of disorganization, adjusting to schedule changes, and having our already fragile executive functions challenged. The New Year finally arrives and we are bombarded with adverts, websites, blogs (mine included) and magazines promising to help us make massive life changes this year and forever.

It has been my experience that new year’s resolutions are not a good option for those with ADHD.

Resolution is defined as:

“: the act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem, etc.: the act of resolving something”

Resolving: “the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones; the act of answering (solving); the act of determining”. (Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

ADHD is not something that can be “solved”. I along with many others who struggle with their executive functioning skills would be more than happy to resolve to no longer have ADHD and follow the plan, take the medication, or have the surgery that would forever rid us of this struggle. I’ve never heard of someone making a New Year’s resolution to stop having ADHD; you’d be foolish to attempt this impossible feat.

NYR unattainable

A more realistic way to approach the beginning of 2015 would be making time to do some self-analysis. Ask yourself some key questions about your past year and as you do this invite the spirit of the LORD to help guide you towards an honest reflection. The management of ADHD symptoms can’t be reviewed and addressed in a similar fashion to those who make meaningless resolutions. People who make New Year’s resolutions can afford to fail at them or even forget what they were a few weeks later; they can do this because their resolutions don’t matter, however, our ADHD does matter.

I don’t want to write what has already been written, so instead I will share a link with you from Laurette Willis of PraiseMoves. Her post is addressed for 2014, but there is no time limit on what she has written; it applied last year and it is still applicable in 2015.

Willis follows what she refers to as SMART-ER Goals.

S-Seek God

M-Make a Commitment

A-Ask

R-(w) Rite: the vision

T-Thank God in Advance

E-Expect

R-Receive  

http://praisemoves.com/2013/12/your-smart-er-goals-for-2014/

http://praisemoves.com/goals.pdf

Well… Happy 2015! My hope is that you will have continued growth in your utilization of your faith in God as a resource for managing your ADHD symptoms. Medication helps with brain function, our faith helps us with our spiritual self. These are two areas that don’t need to be at odds with each other. Wishing you a year filled with growth and transformation in your life. Hopefully over the next 50 weeks you will find something of value on my faith based ADHD themed blog that will be of help to you. Peace.

resolution joke

Procrastination Steals Our Joy

I thought I would share (link) this blog post by Diane Samson about procrastination. It’s not specifically about ADHD, but procrastination is a problem faced by many. I love how she gracefully explains how procrastination takes our focus off of God and away from our being engaged in our calling and for some, our creativity.

I highly recommend giving her article a read followed by some prayerful contemplation.

http://dianesamson.com/the-big-p-word-book-give-a-way/

Source: Diane Samson . com
Source: Diane Samson . com

Success and ADHD: A Different Definition

 

change routine

What is considered a success for people with ADHD is something that is routine for those who are not ADHD. Sometimes the simplest tasks and accomplishments are life changing for us. I’ve had to learn the hard way to redefine what successfully living with ADHD looks like. One of my biggest successes would be getting up early every morning (even on weekends), heading out the door on time, and arriving at my intended destination early. I can’t begin to tell you what an accomplishment this is every single time it happens. I will never stop celebrating this because I know that tardiness was one of my biggest flaws that needing changing. I now enjoy waking up before 5:30 a.m. every morning.

http://blogs.psychcentral.com/adhd-zoe/2014/04/defining-success-when-you-have-adhd/

I read this article from Zoe Kessler, and I think it is a great challenge for those of us with ADHD to ask ourselves.

“After my diagnosis, I understood that I was working with a different brain and a highly sensitive nervous system. I also realized that the popularized notions of success were set by the dominant culture, in other words, by non-ADHD brains. I needed to find my own definition of success and ways to achieve it; otherwise, I’d be doomed to perpetually slam into mountains.

Climb your own mountain.
Climb your own mountain.

This is her quote that has strongly resonated with me, “Success in this case lies not in the eye of the beholder, but in the person who’s overcome invisible obstacles to achieve what might seem quite ordinary.” In that one sentence I found out what I had been doing wrong for so long. I had been trying to achieve society’s definition of success when instead, it would have been healthier for me to understand what success looks like in my ADHD life. I can now celebrate my successes and in doing so it enables me to reach the goals I have for my career choices, family life, personal life, and spiritual life.

All of God’s children, His creation, have a purpose on this earth. It is easy to look at your countless failures and non-achieved goals and incorrectly begin to believe that you cannot fulfill your purpose. Please know this, ADHD has not left you without spiritual gifts, talents, passions and your individual callings in life. God has not cheated us out of anything good.

As John Maxwell has explained in, Your Roadmap to Success, “Success is: knowing your purpose in life, growing to your maximum potential, sowing seeds that benefit others.” With ADHD, it’s those everyday small achievements that add up over time that allow you to have overall success in your life.

Success
Success

I highly recommend taking a few moments to read Zoe Kessler’s article and ponder the questions she has posed to readers.

-How do you define success?

-Is it a different definition (from our main stream culture’s)?

-What makes you feel successful?


 

Some words from Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:24-26

24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 

Praying Into Good Habits

When we want to change the negative habits that come with having ADD/ADHD it can be overwhelming. Where do we start? The most helpful place we can start is with prayer. Be brave, be vulnerable, be courageous and ask God to reveal where you need to start. Even with the best of intentions it can be difficult to see clearly the habits that are causing the most damage in our lives. We may think we need to change habit A, but in reality the root of the problem is habit B, or K or S!

The following is a prayer from Joyce Meyer Ministry from Facebook 02/06/2014.

From Joyce Meyer Ministries
From Joyce Meyer Ministries

Coming Back From A Setback

setback

Setback: a problem that makes progress more difficult or success less likely (Webster’s Dictionary) 

Comeback: a new effort to win or succeed after being close to defeat or failure (Webster’s Dictionary) 

Setbacks are not uncommon for those with ADHD. There are many reasons for this: disorganization, taking on too many tasks, lack of motivation, changing interests, anxiety, depression, and so forth.

The following is a link to a great blog post from Leo Babauta at Zenhabits.net “Coming Back From A Setback” 05/20/2014.

http://zenhabits.net/struggles/

Thank goodness that setbacks are not failures; it also doesn’t mean it’s the end. If you are feeling discouraged or losing hope, take your fears and concerns to God. Pray that His Holy Spirit will help to guide you to get back on track. To spiritually combat feelings of discouragement,click on the link from Rachel Wojo’s website for some verses to meditate on.

http://rachelwojo.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/12-Bible-Verses-for-When-You-Feel-Like-Giving-Up.pdf

setback Not-distracted