Like many ADHD adults, you may struggle when making decisions. You can make better decisions with greater ease using these 3 tips.
- Decision making can be overwhelming for ADHD adults.
- Part of the reason for decision making being stressful is lack of clarity on your values, beliefs, and objectives.
- Gaining clarity in these three areas will not only make decision making easier, but you will also make better decisions.
- Taking more time for upfront thinking is necessary to accomplish this.
- How to Find the Ideal Job for ADHD Adults
- 6 Guilt-Free Strategies ADHD Adults Can Use to Say No
- 5 Common Mistakes Leaders and Managers with ADHD Make
- How to Be an Effective Boss. When You Have ADHD
If you’re struggling to make decisions, could it be, you’re not clear on your values, beliefs, and objectives in making that decision?
You’ve turned into Scattered, Focused, Done, Reimagining Productivity with ADHD, a podcast for ADHD, adults, like you, who want to learn how to adopt the best strategies, tools, and skills, to be able to get your such a work done in a way that works with the way your brain is wired. I’m Marla Cummins, and I’m glad you decided to join me today on this journey to reimagining productivity with ADHD. So you can get what is important to you done without trying to do it like everyone else.
In my last podcast, Making Choices is Easier for ADHD Adults Who Do This, I differentiated between making choices and making decisions. I defined making a choice as choosing between known options. Maybe these choices are visible to you, or it might be that you can see the options in your mind. I also shared strategies for minimizing the overload that can come with trying to make too many choices. And, if you haven’t listened to that podcast yet, I’d encourage you to go ahead and do that. But when making a decision, you may or may not be choosing between known options. You are though trying to solve a problem, reach a specific goal, or fulfill a certain need. Whatever the decision before you can make it, you need to recognize you’re at the critical point of choice. I’ll explain more about that in a moment.
To illustrate how you can make better decisions I’ll look at the process one of my former clients used. My hope, though, is that you’ll be able to apply what you learned from this example to decisions you need to make in your own life. So, let’s get on with it.
Let’s start by unpacking why you must recognize you’re at a critical point of choice before you can arrive at a decision point. At a basic level, before you would even entertain a decision, you first have to know you have the freedom to choose to make that decision. That makes sense, right? If you don’t feel you have the freedom, it may be because of fear or not feeling you have agency, or maybe it’s because you have conflicting goals or some other roadblock. For example, if work is a challenge for you, you may think the onus is primarily on you to change, to fit in, to do better.
If you’re an adult with ADHD, listening to this, you probably do need to upgrade your executive functioning skills. But it could also be that your work environment is just not a good fit for you. At least as it is currently configured. And, while you may have pondered whether you should find a new job, you may not have thought carefully about what agency or opportunities you have to change the environment to work better for you. And because you’re not aware you have the freedom to change your work environment, you likely are considering just two decision points. Which are how can I get better? and/or do I need to leave this place? But, if you recognized you had latitude to create a better work environment for yourself, you might engage in deciding how to do this.
While this podcast is not about finding the right job, if you are curious about whether you’re in the right job or not, go ahead and check out my article, “How to Find the Ideal Job for ADHD Adults” before you rush to the conclusion, you need to quit your job. To be more aware of your options, choices in making a decision you first need to be aware of your goals or objectives, as well as your values and beliefs.
For example, let’s say you value money as an end goal. You want to make as much money as you can. In addition, you generally believe the only way to climb up the ladder and make more money is to always say, “Yes.” You tell yourself, I don’t have a choice. It’s likely based on your values, beliefs, and goals, you won’t see, you have a choice agency to change your work environment. But what if you had a different set of values, beliefs, and goals.
For example, what if, while of course you want to make a living, making as much as you can is not your end goal. Rather you value making a meaningful contribution in your career, as well as practicing good self-care and being present for your family and friends. In addition, let’s say you also believe employees should have a say in crafting their work environment. I know you get where this is going. In contrast to the first scenario, while you may not know what your options are, you might be more open to entertaining various options that will allow you to have a say in creating a better work environment for yourself.
The bottom line is only after you’ve clarified your goals, values, and beliefs can you go on to the next step of clarifying what options are open to you to make decision. If you want your decisions to be based on your values, it makes sense to clarify these before you decide on your goals, of course. Yet, in your haste to make decisions, you may not take the time to do enough upfront thinking to be sure you are including your values in your calculations. If you’re not sure if you are not trying, considering as you go about your week, pay attention to how you make your decisions. And try thinking about, “Am I incorporating my values as I make my decisions.”
But for now, let me give you an example. One of my former clients, a partner in a law firm was doing well enough before we started working together.
After all, he was a partner in a law firm. But the stress and overwhelm was way too much. Sure. he needed upgrade, some of his executive functioning skills. But as it turned out, the heavy lift for him was actually deciding how to spend his time and energy to support his values. He was definitely clear that his family, his health, being involved in his community and managing and growing his law firm were all important to him. But his volunteer activities were taking up an inordinate amount of his time. Because, when he made the decisions to commit to these activities, he didn’t consider the trade-offs he was making. The time he needed to spend on his volunteer activities meant he simply didn’t have enough time to engage with his family and his firm in the way he wanted.
In fact, he was also stretched so thin he didn’t even feel like he was pulling his weight in the volunteer activities. Ultimately, he decided to shed some of these volunteer activities so he could really live all his values. He learned to say no gracefully. By doing this he had the time and energy he needed to be present with his family. And manage and grow the firm in the way that he wanted, as well as be fully involved in the volunteer activities that he chose to stay involved in. Nice, right?
If you google values exercises, you’ll find plenty of exercises to help you clarify your values if you need to do that. And, if you have my book, you can access the values exercises there to help you identify your own values. Also, if you’re interested in learning how to say no, check out my article, “6 Guilt-Free Strategies ADHD Adults Can Use to Say No.”
In addition to being clear on your values, while trickier to do, it’s also important to be clear on your beliefs when considering your options and making a decision. And you may need someone, maybe a friend, family member, coach, or therapist, to help you explore your underlying beliefs regarding a situation. As we all have our blind spots, right? And because we all have our blind spots, you may not see what beliefs are driving your decisions. Unless you look closely and maybe have someone serve as a mirror.
Back to my former client. It was important to him to be a good mentor and supervisor to his associates. He wanted to be dependable and available. But he thought that this meant he needed to have an open-door policy for his associates. Of course, as an adult with ADHD, the interruptions made it much more difficult for him to focus and attend to his other work. And the frustration he felt when the associates interrupted him meant that he was not even fully present with them.
Sound familiar? Not only was the open-door policy contributing to his inefficiency, it wasn’t really helping the associates grow because they relied too much on him. That is, as soon as they had a problem, they would go to him instead of taking some time to see if they could figure it out on their own. His belief, that being dependable and open meant he had to have an open-door policy for his associates was actually getting in the way of meeting his goal of being a good mentor and supervisor.
So, this brings me to the third consideration when making a decision. In addition to being clear on your values and beliefs, you have to be clear on your objectives. That is, what are you really trying to achieve? Well, in the case of my former client, giving up some of his volunteer commitments gave him more time to spend with his family and on the firm, he still needed to explore his thinking errors, beliefs, that were getting in the way of his goals, of being a good mentor supervisor and getting his other work done.
He ultimately decided to have office hours a couple of times during the day. Of course, if it were an emergency, the associates could interrupt him. He was only able to see this as an option though, once he got past his black and white thinking and his belief that an open-door policy was the only way to demonstrate dependability and openness. Before the shift in thinking he believed he couldn’t both support his associates and set boundaries to allow himself to focus and attend to his other work.
In fact, once he instituted office hours, not only was he more efficient in his work, but he was also much more dependable, open and present. Because he could focus and attend. When the associates came to ask him for help much better. As he was anticipating that they might come in during his office hours. Furthermore, the associates came to him less, as they didn’t always want to wait for office hours. So they found other resources to help answer their questions, or they figured it out on their own.
So where are you stuck making a decision because you have multiple objectives you think are in opposition to each other? Maybe it’s time to look at your underlying thinking regarding those decisions. By the way, if you do manage people and you’re interested in exploring this, check out my blog post, “5 Common Mistakes Leaders and Managers with ADHD Make” and/or listen to my podcasts, “How to Be an Effective Boss When You Have ADHD.”
Making decisions can be hard for ADHD adults. But they also can be easier if you have clarity on your objectives, values and beliefs. Not easy to do. I know. But I think you’ll make better decisions if you’re willing to take the journey.
That’s it for now. I’m really glad you joined me. And, as always, stayed until the very end. If you’re interested in learning more about my work with adults with ADHD, please do check out my website, marlacummins.com. And, of course, if you’ve learned a thing or two from today’s podcast, which I hope you have, please also pass along the link to anyone else in your circles you think might benefit. Until next time, this has been scattered focus done. And I’m Marla Cummins wishing you all the very best on your journey to reimagining productivity with ADHD.