I don’t need to tell you how challenging it can be sometimes to successfully reach your goals. I also don’t need to tell you that your ADHD symptoms can make it even harder. You know this.
And when everything seems hard, though you know you need to make some sort of change to make things better, you may not know where to start.
It might just feel too chaotic and all you can think is, “This is impossible, and I have no idea what to do. I need help!”
Not Being Clear On What Kind of Help You Need Can Hold You Back
I sometimes get messages that read simply, “I need help.” Sometimes I also receive long detailed messages about the person’s challenges. In either case, the message often ends with, “Do you have any tips to help me?”
It is hard to get those messages because, while I know they need help and I really want to help them, I just can’t provide a useful answer for them via email. So, my response is usually something along the lines of, “I’d be happy to discuss your concerns in a consultation.”
And, when during the course of the consultation we can clearly identify the specific areas where they need help, their response is often, “Yes, that’s it!!”
It feels great to have clarity, right?
But you might not have this clarity right now, and so you keep on doing the same old, same old because you don’t know one or more of the following:
- the best place to start making changes.
- how to effectively make changes in the areas you have identified as the best place to start
- what kind of support you need to make the changes you have identified as necessary to reach your goals.
- how much you can try to change at one time
#1 Identify the Areas In Your Life Where You Are Not Satisfied
It is easy when you are incredibly busy and overwhelmed to overlook areas of your life that are not satisfying. You may even let years pass. Until maybe one day you are in crisis, and you need to change something now!
You don’t have to wait for a crisis to occur.
As a starting point, use the Wheel of Life* below to see how satisfied you are in various areas of your life. (See instructions below.)
1. Review the 8 categories on the above Wheel of Life and make any changes you would like so you can make it more meaningful to you. Examples of changes are:
- Family and Friends: Split “Family and Friends” into separate categories.
- Significant Other: Changing the category name to “Dating”, “Relationship” or “Life Partner”.
- Career: Changing the category name to “Motherhood”, “Work”, “Business” or “Volunteering”.
- Finances: Changing the category name to “Money”, “Financial Security” or “Financial Wellbeing”.
- Health: The category name could be split or changed to “Emotional”, “Physical”, “Fitness”, “Spiritual” or “Wellbeing”.
- Home Environment: The category could split or change to “Work Environment” for career or business clients.
- Fun & Leisure: The category name could change to “Recreation”
- Personal Growth: The category name could change to “Learning”, “Self-Development” or “Spiritual”
- Other categories to add could include “Security”, “Service”, “Leadership”, “Achievement” or “Community”.
2. Rank your level of satisfaction in each area of your life by drawing a line across each segment. Place a value between 1 (very dissatisfied) and 10 (fully satisfied) against each area to show how satisfied you are currently with each category in your life. See example below.
3. How bumpy is the ride
4. Now, looking at the wheel ponder the following questions:
- Are there any surprises for you?
- How do you feel about your life as you look at your Wheel?
- How do you currently spend time in these areas? How would you like to spend time in these areas?
- Which of these categories would you most like to improve?
- What help and support might you need from others to make changes and be more satisfied with your life?
- What change should you make first? And what change do you want to make first?
- If there was one key action you could take to start to make changes, what would it be?
The information you gain from completing the Wheel of Life lets you know how satisfied you are in different areas of your life. However, it is still up to you where you want to make changes.
#2 Decide Where You Want To Start Making Changes
As you know making decisions is one of the biggest challenges for Adults with ADHD. So, when you find that there are many changes you would like to make, deciding where to start and focus at first may be a challenge, as well.
Here are some questions you can use to make this decision.
1. Is there a change I need to urgently make because my relationship(s), health or job is “in danger” and that change will make the situation significantly better?
For, example, maybe lack of sleep is impacting your ability to:
- regulate your emotions
- get places on time
- work effectively
So, you may decide that getting more sleep is one of the first places to start because doing so will spill over and positively impact other areas of your life.
2. Am I afraid that I am really stuck and can’t possibly make any changes?
If that is the case for you, you might try to work on making a change that, while maybe not easy, is easier than tackling others areas, like sleep.
An example is adopting the habit of using your calendar on a regular basis so you don’t miss appointments.
By working on making a change that seems easier to you, you can build your confidence in your ability to make other changes.
3. Is there something that is distracting me so much and is getting in my way to such a degree that, if I don’t do something different in that area, I’ll have a hard time making any other changes?
For example, if your finances are a mess, and the consequences are spilling out into other areas of your life, this may be the place to start. (If you are interested in this particular topic, check out the 4 part series I wrote, Adult ADHD and Money – Personal Finance)
4. Is there something that I’m just sick and tired of doing, and I find myself often saying, “I wish I would just stop… !!!”
Maybe this is change you decide to work on now. An example for many Adults with ADHD is being late to meet people, and many wish they could figure out a way to get places on time.
5. Is there someone in my life — spouse, child, friend, business partner etc. — who is asking me to make a change that I am willing to make because they are important to me?
#3 Self-Talk You Can Use To Resist Giving Up or Trying To Do It All At Once
If you are like many of the Adults with ADHD I work with, you may get more overwhelmed and feel worse when you look at your Wheel of Life and see just how bumpy the ride is.
And then your immediate response might be either, “I can’t do this!” or “I need to fix this now!” Even though you really know neither response is going to be helpful.
So, when either of these thoughts come to mind, it is important to remind yourself:
- “If I’m going to successfully make any changes, I can only do so much at once.”
- “When I feel like I need to go faster, that is when I need to slow down. Trying to go faster will not get me there successfully.”
- “While I can’t do this all at once, I can plant seeds. And over time I can make the changes I want.”
- “Maybe I can’t do this by myself. If that is the case, I’ll think of how I can get support.”
What else can you tell yourself when you are feeling overwhelmed and you feel you just can’t do it at all or you need to do it all now?
Next Steps For You
Choose the area where you want to initially focus on making changes.
Remember, while you are learning new skills, strategies and habits well working in one area at first, you will eventually use these when you decide to tackle other areas. And then working to make changes in those areas will be easier.
Stay tuned for the upcoming post where I’ll explore how you can optimize your goals in the areas you are working on improving.
*Adapted from the Coaching Tools Company.Com