One mistake we often make when we are learning new skills, adopting new strategies or changing our habits is we think there is a destination. That is, we think we will get to a place and be done, home free, fixed…
But the truth is we never get “there.” Rather, we have to work on maintaining the progress. On some level I know you get this… But, like me, I bet you forget, especially when you hit the occasional speed bump along the way.
So, when you are working hard at creating the change you want, and you have some sort of setback, you may be tempted to give up. In the moment, you think, “Whatever! I tried, and this just isn’t working…Why should I even do this?”
Ready to learn how to deal with setbacks so you can persist in maintaining your progress even when you feel like just giving up?
How to Frame Your Past Failures So They Don’t Hold You Back
Of course, everyone fails now and then. But, if you spent a number of years with undiagnosed and / or untreated ADHD, you may have experienced quite a few failures.
So, one of the first steps is to consider what you make of these failures. While not easy to get past, what might make it even harder is if you have the mindset that your past is a prediction of your future.
Because then, when you experience the inevitable setback, you might think, “See I was right! I can’t do this!” And, yes, you might be tempted to quit trying to create the change you want.
So that you don’t let this thinking sabotage your ability to move forward:
- get the support you need to help you learn about your ADHD and how to make the changes you want.
- remind yourself that, “While it may not be easy and setbacks are inevitable, with the right support, I can learn how to create the change I want. I don’t have to repeat the past.”
- be compassionate with yourself when you try and stumble.
Also use the steps below to make it a little easier to create the changes you want.
Preparing To Make Changes Will Minimize The Chances of Setbacks
When you are making a commitment to change you might say, “I’m going to change. I don’t want to keep going on like this!”
Though making this commitment is the first step, it is not enough. While setbacks will happen no matter how good your plan is, a plan is also necessary if you want to maximize your chances of succeeding.
Yet, you may be tempted to skip this step because you are tired of your ADHD symptoms getting in your way and you want a “fix” now!! Understandable.
But, without a plan your efforts may fall flat. Then your commitment will likely waver because you do not see the payoff. You may then decide it will never get better, and, yes, quit.
To counter this possibility, instead of impulsively jumping in, take some time to create a plan by answering the questions below:
- Where do I want to focus first? Trying to make too many changes at once can be overwhelming.
- What kind of support do I need to make these changes? You may seek out the help of an ADHD Coach, therapist, support group, friends and / or family.
- How can I alter my environment to support me in making the changes I want?
- Do I need to discontinue some of my activities or ask for help with my current commitments in order to have the time and space to make these changes?
And be sure to trust that the time spent planning will help you in the long run.
How To Deal With Setbacks While You Are Putting Your Plan In Action
When you are putting your plans into action and learning how to manage your ADHD, you will be experimenting with different strategies, skills and tools. And pushing your limits in this way, rather than playing it safe, means you cannot get it right 100% of the time, right?
But, if you are prone to black and white thinking, as is true for many when first leaning how to manage their ADHD, you may see only two options when faced with setbacks:
- “I need to just try harder.”
- “I should just give up…”
Going full speed ahead when your plan is not working will likely land you in more trouble. While giving up will, well, get you nowhere.
Alternatively, you will be in a better position to explore alternative paths if you view these occasional setbacks as cautionary signs to slow down and reflect on the best path forward.
Being able to recognize your temporary setbacks as speed bumps, rather than seemingly insurmountable walls, will help you recalibrate and get back on track more quickly.
Expecting Setbacks In The Maintenance Stage Will Help You Persist
When you reach the maintenance stage you have already put a great deal of time and energy into making the change you want and are working the plan. So, you are likely feeling pretty spent, and may also feel like it is time to coast.
Now is not the time to coast.
Because it is during this stage that the temptation may be great to revert back to your old ways of operating when:
- the plan that worked last week does not work perfectly this week.
- your mojo is not there and you just aren’t interested.
- something more interesting comes along, pulling for your attention.
- you encounter internal (thoughts and emotions) or external distractions.
All of the above and more may make it hard to continue working your plan.
But expecting the above challenges and having a plan to address them will help you persist when your motivation to keep going inevitably ebbs along the way.
How to Deal With The Temptation to Revert To Old Habits
As an Adult with ADHD it is easy to get derailed from using your new skills, strategies and habits in part because you may, well, just forget to use them. And you may not even be aware of how off course you are until things are really unraveling.
Ever happen to you?
The key to countering this tendency is to adopt a practice of Weekly Review to help you get back on track more quickly when you veer off course.
During these review sessions you will reflect on the previous week, noting what went well, what was a challenge, and what you can change to make the next week better (best practices).
More specifically, you can ask yourself:
- Am I upholding my commitments in each of my chosen areas of focus (family, profession, hobbies, self-care, spiritual etc.)?
- Am I moving the projects (quarterly report, summer camps for kids, buying new running shoes etc.) in each of my areas of focus along in the time frame needed?
- If I’m not tending to my areas of focus and / or not following through on my projects, what is getting in my way?
- What strategies am I using that are working?
- Are there best practices I am not using that I need to recommit to using, tweak or change altogether?
- If I’m stuck, and not sure what to do, what kind of help do I need?
Taking the time to reflect on a weekly basis will help you decide the best path forward.
Setbacks can happen at any stage of change. Have strategies to deal with them can help you continue moving forward.
What strategy can you use today to deal with a setback you are experiencing?