I bet you have those days when you are trying to decide what to do, but you can’t…
It starts to feel a little like a runaway train. Eventually, you get so overwhelmed by thoughts of everything you could or “should” do, you end up falling back on old bad habits.
And not really setting your intentions for the day.
One common type of thinking for adults with ADHD that leads to indecision paralysis is, “I can’t do this… until I do that.”
I Can’t This… Until I Do That.”
At times it can be really hard for adults with ADHD to get started, especially when you fall into the thinking of “I can’t do this… until I do that,” like these two examples:
You decide that you are going to work on the slides for a meeting on Monday. But you don’t want to start until you find out from your boss if she is ok with one of the items. You can’t find this out until you hear back from her. You already emailed once and don’t want to bug her, again. So, you determine you can’t work on the slides at all.
You are faced with the unstructured time of the weekend, and are trying to decide when to exercise. You need to eat a little before you exercise. But you don’t have what you want to eat. So, you decide you need to go to the grocery store. But you don’t want to go to the grocery store before you shower. And it doesn’t make sense to shower until after you exercise… Arghh!!
Sound familiar? Recognizing when you are caught in this thinking is the first step to getting out of it.
Without a strategy you may just stay on the train. But, if you know how stop it, you can put on the brakes and set a course for your day.
Transitions Can Be Hard
Of course, planning your week and days in advance is helpful in warding off daily indecision. But you know you can’t plan for everything.
What about when you are caught by surprise?
You don’t get an answer when you want it from your boss about the slides.
You don’t have the food that you want to eat before you exercise.
For adults with ADHD, transitions, including dealing with a change from what we expected, can really throw us off .
And contribute to indecision paralysis – getting stuck.
One way to minimize the chances of this happening is to identify your top 1-3 priorities for each day. Yes, even on the weekends. Even if you have a long list of to dos, choose the 1-3 things that you are committed to doing that day…
- reading the Sunday paper
- writing the intro to your report
- going to the park with the kids
- returning Bob’s call
Because that way, if things don’t go according to plan, you know to focus on figuring out how to at least accomplish those 1-3 items.
And when you have fewer choices it will make it easier to do the next step.
Dealing With Shades of Gray
We know black and white thinking is a common challenge for adults with ADHD.
So, learning how to deal with shades of gray is one of the most important skills to learn so you can more easily deal with the unexpected.
- acknowledging that you can’t control all your circumstances.
- expecting the unexpected during your day.
- not blaming yourself when your plan goes awry!
- being flexible in considering your options.
Then, think about what could be an optimal plan, though maybe not an ideal one. That is, step away from your black and white thinking.
What Is Possible?
You will feel and be more in control when you practice being more flexible in your thinking and accommodate for what comes up.
And you will move more easily through your day.
To do this, with your top 1-3 priorities in mind for the day, ask yourself, “What is possible?”
When considering an approach to working on the slides or when to fit exercising into your day…
- Allow for imperfect steps. So, even if you can’t finish all the slides, work on those slides that do not require feedback from your boss.
- Do something when you are stuck. Grab whatever is available to eat and go exercise.
- Ask for help. It’s been a week since you asked your boss for feedback on the slides. Ask a trusted colleague, friend or family member for their opinion on whether you should call or email again.
- Take a break. Maybe you need to take a break to clear your head in order to make a decision.
- Do another task. Rather than stay stuck in this thinking, do something else. The solution may occur to you when you stop thinking about it.
The key is to be aware when you are caught in this thinking, and then make an effort to see other options.
Next time you are riding the train the of indecision, ask yourself, “What can I possibly do so I can do x, y, z (top three priorities) even if it is not exactly how I want to do it?”