Category Archives: Life Goals

You Middle of the Year Check-in 2018

It’s that time of year again. Time to do a personal check-in as we enter the last month of Summer.

August is an excellent month to do a check-in and see how things are going for you in different areas of your life. September will be here before you know it and our schedules will become filled again with activities, your kid’s activities, regular work routines, and school.

It’s important to review what had worked for you from January to the beginning of summer. Did you stick with the recreational activities you had signed up for? Did you spend too little or too much time socializing? Is your home still filled with clutter and looks like the after effects of a tornado? Did you lose the weight you swore you would?

Doing a seasonal check-in isn’t meant to be a time beating yourself up about what you didn’t get done or a time to create an unrealistic to-do/must-do list. It’s a time to acknowledge the things you were able to accomplish and work towards the things that have yet to be completed.

I’m thankful that I gave in at the end of last year and purchased the Cultivate What Matters Powersheets 2018. It has helped improved my ability to stay focused on my goals with a sense of compassion instead of aiming for perfection and beating myself up when I fall short. It is rooted in the grace that God has given us and the grace he calls us to have for ourselves and others.

The Powersheets are written in such a way that each month you are able to work towards your goals and break them down into daily, weekly, and monthly commitments. There are months where my sheets were only half filled and others that were completely empty. I was able to look back and see those times when life became difficult and overwhelming. At time stress, anxiety, fear, and the ever-present ADHD were at my side guiding me off track.

I was able to turns things around by accepting that life is not linear and therefore neither is the work we do in aiming to accomplish our goals and fulfill our responsibilities.

A personal check-in doesn’t have to be complex, but it does have to be honest. Answer the questions honestly, no one else has to see them except you. No one will know your responses and where your heart is at except you and God. He is there to help you search yourself. Remember that God knows we are not perfect, he is there to give us strength, and his Holy Spirit is there to provide us with the wisdom we need to grow and be our best selves.

Ask Yourself:

-What are some things that I have accomplished since the beginning of 2018?

-Have I shown an active and disciplined commitment to my goals and responsibilities?

-What are my different relationships like: Family, Spouse, Friends, Work, Church?

-Time management, how have I been doing in this area? What needs to change and what can I keep doing that seems to be working well?

-Learning: Did I make time to intentionally learn new things? e.g. how to use new features on your smartphone, enrolling in a class or workshop, taught yourself something new, tried a new recipe.
How did you response to this learning experience? E.g. Frustrated, happy, excited, angry, disappointment.

-ADHD management: how well have you been managing your ADHD symptoms? Have your symptoms increased, decreased, remained the same, or don’t know?
What are some changes you might need to make? E.g. Sleep less/more, alter diet or eating habits, stress reduction, let go of some activities and commitments, seek more support from others formal/informal, medication adjustment, less time on social media, find different time management tools and apps, etc.

-What is your spiritual life like? Have you been attending church/place of worship regularly? Have you been spending time outdoors in the sunshine and amidst nature? What’s your level of attitude of gratitude?
Are there spiritual activities that might be beneficial for you? E.g. meditation, mindfulness exercises, going a small group bible study, etc. If you are creative and artistic, have you been able to make time for creative outlets?

-Did I find myself developing new habits, were they helpful or do they need to be decreased or eliminated?

Remember, your mid year check-in is meant to be done with compassion and grace. It also doesn’t have to all be done in an afternoon or a day. Take a week if you feel the need to. Break the questions down by focusing on select areas of most importance. This might be your marriage, your work, school, or some other area of your life. If you feel overwhelmed, slow down.

Pray and ask God to guide you through your check-in and during your times of reflection.

 

 

 

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Adult ADHD and the Challenge of Change

Proverbs 3:5-6

 

Change isn’t easy for most people, but when you include ADHD into the mix, change can be a major challenge.

Why do people fear, dislike, and avoid change while others welcome it? In pursuit of answers there are organizations that specialize in change theory and help organizations, non-profits, and government sectors deal with internal and external change. For people with ADHD/ADD there are ADD coaches, life coaches, psychologists, social workers, and your circle of knowledgeable friends and family.

Do you remember the popular Prayer of Jabez movement from the 2000s? My memory of that time was people boldly praying the verse from 1 Chronicles 4:10,

“And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!’ So God granted him what he requested.”

They didn’t ask for simple things like, ‘Lord, help me to be nice to my co-worker that I treat like garbage’ or ‘God please help me to understand my spouse with more compassion and empathy’; nope, there were people who were praying for a long list of material goods, a husband, pregnancy, and all sorts of personal wishes. While there is nothing wrong with asking God for something that is meaningful to you, the problems were that people didn’t seem to understand that when God “gives” or “blesses” you with something there is often change involved. If you want a child, then your life will change significantly when the child arrives. You want to change careers and start your own business, well, it’s important to understand that self-employment creates personal changes in income, insurance, and stability. When something significant comes into or out of our lives, it will include change. Sometimes that change is for the better, other times it is for the worst.

People prayed the Prayer of Jabez with a focus on “bless me indeed” and “enlarge my territory” but by passed the parts “Keep me from evil” and “that I may not cause pain!”. We are taught that change needs to benefit us 100% without consideration of how it might affect others. There will be times when we must make decisions and changes that will affect others, but as Jabez asked of God, don’t let evilness towards others and intentionally causing people pain be part of your plans for change.

When you have ADHD, change will need to include a lot of trust. Trust in your choices, trust in the future, and trust in your abilities; but most of all trust in God. Adult ADHD traits such as impatience, distraction, forgetfulness, ever changing priorities, anxiety, and moodiness not only affects our own journey of change, but it affects others as well. It is important to remember that as believers, change includes forgiveness, grace, mercy, all the fruits of the spirit, seeking wise counsel, and lots of prayer.

If you would like further information on change and Adult ADHD here are some further online resources:

Can Adults With ADHD Really Change?

Adults with ADHD Can Change Their Love-Hate Relationships

5 Warning Signs You Are Reaching Your ADHD Tipping Point

Change Management Models (not ADHD related)

What is Theory of Change?

 

ADHD: The Gift That Costs You

Is this a gift that can be re-gifted?

 

Recently a Facebook post came across my page asking, “Can AD/HD be a Gift?” It was posted by an Occupational Therapy group here in Canada. I clicked on the post, read the comments, and instantly regretted doing so.

It is not unusual to hear people proclaim that ADD/ADHD is a gift, however, speaking as a person with severe, life disrupting ADHD, I have never believed this disorder to be a gift. Would we tell a person their cancer is a gift? Would you tell a person who’s only mode of transportation is a wheelchair that not being able to walk on one’s own is a gift? Would you tell a person who is blind that their lack of clear sight is a gift? The answer to all these questions is likely to be an emphatic “no”.

There are people with ADHD who have gifts, this is no different than people without ADHD. Having this disorder doesn’t prevent a person from being born with incredible gifts or developing excellent talents. Those with ADHD experience different symptoms and are effected differently due to circumstances such as one’s occupation, gender, age, family circumstances, access to psycho-social supports, personal beliefs about the ADHD, and socio-economic status.

The Mayo Clinic lists some of the symptoms of Adult ADHD (2018):

  • Impulsiveness
  • Disorganization and problems prioritizing
  • Poor time management skills
  • Problems focusing on a task
  • Trouble multitasking
  • Excessive activity or restlessness
  • Poor planning
  • Low frustration tolerance
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Problems following through and completing tasks
  • Hot temper
  • Trouble coping with stress

Looking over this list, do these sound like “gifts”. If someone wrapped all these symptoms up in a bow and offered them to you, would you accept them. Would you trade your even temper, patience, and self-control for the “gift” of ADHD?

The key to living successfully as an adult with ADHD is managing one’s symptoms. Again, everyone experiences different symptoms and to varying degrees. Some manage successfully without medication, others need high doses of prescribed stimulants in order to maintain a job and look after themselves and their family. It’s important to find out what management methods work for each of us.

What I see as a gift is the fact that I was able to finally be diagnosed as an adult. I was able to find a psychologist who was able to do testing for free and refer me to a medical doctor for an official diagnosis. It was a gift to attend a university where ADHD was viewed as a legitimate disability and I was allowed to have a liaison and academic support; without this I wouldn’t have been able to complete courses and graduate. It is a gift that I don’t have to pay for ADHD medication. Health care is not free in Canada, we have to pay for a variety of services. There are adults who have ADHD and are not able to access free services. Health care coverage in Canada varies according to which province you reside in.

Those who do well despite having this disorder do so because they have been able to find suitable and/or accommodating employment, social and/or family support, the right medication and dosage (if needed), proper diagnosis, and a variety of ways to manage and decrease symptoms. This is the “gift”.

 

 

 

 

Adult ADHD: Fail Forward

 

 

 

I started off 2018 with great plans and goals for being an excellent graduate student in my final year of studies. By the end of January my game plan was a failure. I shouldn’t say the plan failed, it was I who failed at it.

I’m not going to beat myself up, play the blame game, or wallow in self-pity. Instead, I’m going to do what is best, and that’s evaluate what went wrong, make corrections, and carry on.

Fail Forward:

John Maxwell’s book Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes Into Stepping Stones for Success was the first time I learned as an adult that mistakes and failures were part of the process of succeeding in life. My 20’s were a decade of continuous failures without knowing how to dust myself off and continue with life. My errors were self-paralyzing experiences. I associated mistakes as messages from God that I was worthless, and that I would never produce good fruit in my life, after all, a bad tree doesn’t produce any good fruit; well, at least this is what I was taught as a young adult. Bad things happen to bad people, and nothing good comes to people who are not good. Boy was I ever miseducated!

Eventually I learned the truth, that errors are a part of life and a part of having Adult ADHD. Having this disorder means we have to work harder to accomplish certain daily tasks than others. There is nothing wrong with this fact, it is what it is and if we fight this we will most certainly experience more unnecessary failures.

“If we look long enough for what we want in life we are almost sure to find it. Success is in the journey, the continual process. And no matter how hard you work, you will not create the perfect plan or execute it without error. You will never get to the point that you no longer make mistakes, that you no longer fail.” John Maxwell

 

“God uses people who fail—’cause there aren’t any other kind around.” John Maxwell

This is amazing reassurance. Life is not over, dreams have not ended, and we are not non-redeemable; we know this because God tells us so.

At the end of January I evaluated where I went wrong. I made my classic mistake of over planning, forgetting the value of saying no to things that should have been a priority and yes to things that were not urgent. Most importantly, I thought I could get through the semester without any ADHD medication. According to me, my plan for achieving my goals were so solid I didn’t need any medication. WRONG.

Some how I had forgotten what my student life was like without medication. I was quickly reminded by our instructor that I was being disruptive in class (fidgeting, being late, etc.).  By the end of the course term I accepted that success as a graduate student would not be possible for me without medication. Some adults make it through adulthood without any medications, but for some of us, this might not be an option.

The lesson in this disastrous return to graduate school was this: failure is a part of success, it is a part of life, but for crying out loud, don’t create unnecessary failures and obstacles in your life. If you need medication, take them.

Ninety percent of all those who fail are not actually defeated. They simply quit.”  John Maxwell

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).

 

 

 

 

 

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