Where are you not following through?
In the first article of this series on follow-through I focused on “…Banishing Your Gremlin.” If you have not read this article, I would suggest going back to read it.
And, if after reading that article, you are still scratching your head, wondering why you just don’t follow through, time to look further.
Like many adults with ADHD, you may have many thoughts of tasks that you are not completing swirling about in your head. And, as they sit swirling, the thoughts and sense of urgency increase.
What could be going on?!
Should I or Shouldn’t I?
It may be time to look at your commitment to your decision.
Take the case of Gayle, who decided to apply for a leadership program.
“I’m going to apply for the leadership program because I really should work on my professional development.”
Two weeks later Gayle remembers…
“I really need to fill out the application. But I’m totally swamped getting ready for my presentation at the conference. I’ll get to the application for sure next week.”
Four Weeks later…
Ahmed, a colleague, asks, “Hey, Gayle, are you still going to do that leadership program? I just signed up.”
And Gayle replies, “Yes, I’m planning on it.”
She also thinks to herself…”If Ahmed is going, I definitely should to do that. I have a lot going on, but I should apply anyway. Besides I know Cary, our boss, really thinks it would be a good idea. I’ll have to get on that right away because the deadline is next week.”
Six weeks later…
“Darn! I missed the deadline for applying for the program!!! I never follow through. I don’t get it. For sure I’ll do it next year!”
Does this sound familiar?
What happened with Gayle?
What Does “I Should…” Mean?
Gayle said she should apply to the program because…
- it would be good to work on her professional development.
- her colleague, Ahmed, is applying.
- and her boss thinks it is a good idea.
But she continued to waffle in following through because, really, she never made a commitment.
Can you think of a recent instance when you were “shoulding yourself”? That is, you told yourself you were supposed to do something other than what you were actually doing?
I bet, instead of following through…
- thoughts of the unfinished tasks whirled about in your head.
- you heaped shame and blame on yourself for not following through.
- the thoughts continued to sap your time and energy.
This is what will likely happen when you decide that you should do something.
ADHD and Shoulding Yourself Doesn’t Work
For a non-ADHD adults it is difficult enough to follow through on tasks they are not interested in, but feel they should do.
As Dr Brown points out in Ten Myths About ADHD adults with ADHD cannot will their executives functions to work.
So What Do You Do?!
- the importance of the task to you. That is, what is your strong interest?
- the specific steps you will take and when you are going to take each step.
- that you are going to drop the task completely or at least defer it to a later time
(If you are unable to answer the above questions on your own, it could be that you need help doing so.)
In Gayle’s case, she may have come to the conclusion that…
“I would like to do this leadership program, but now is just not the right time. I don’t have the bandwidth to finish my current projects and do the program. I don’t even have time to do the application. I’ll ask Cary what she thinks of me doing it next time. And I’ll ask Ahmed what he thinks of the program after he is finished. I just don’t want to do it right now.”
Two Questions For You
Where are you saying, “I should…,” and not following through?
Do you want to take the steps to commit to following though on the task, drop it or defer it?
*(To review executive functions check out Dr. Brown’s model Executive Functions Impaired in ADD / ADHD)