At this point, we’re well into the New Year.
This year seems to be as turbulent as any other year.
And I assume with all that’s going on—in politics, the weather, celebrity scandals, and your family—one can be forgiven for letting one’s New Year’s Resolutions fall by the wayside.
If you haven’t forgiven yourself, please do so now.
Studies have shown that very few of us stick to our resolutions. One study estimated it’s as few as 8%. That’s about one in twelve of us.
Shocking when you think we tend to resolve to do things that we want. Or aim for goals we want.
So, although you may be one of the 4 to 5% of adults who have ADHD, you are certainly in the majority of people in terms of New Year’s Resolutions.
SELF-IMPROVEMENT IS FINE, BUT HOW DO I MEASURE IT?
As I said in my previous blog, for most of my life, I made New Year’s Resolutions. And I never achieved any of them.
But the idea of not trying to improve myself, well, that seemed like heresy. Especially since my undiagnosed ADHD gave me so many areas where I felt like I needed to improve.
Now, I don’t make resolutions to achieve things, or improve myself. Not that I’ve given up on achieving things. Or improving myself. Nor have I given up on resolutions.
It’s just that at some point, I realized that if the “I’m going to change” resolutions were effective, then at my age, I should be a much taller billionaire with superpowers, and thick dark hair.
Instead, resolutions left me feeling disheartened about myself. And I was already getting enough of that in my life from the undiagnosed ADHD.
“Doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results is insanity.”
I’ve heard that quote many times, attributed to Einstein, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Santa. I thought it was very wise. And I could see that a lot of people were doing exactly that. Then I started to notice that I was too. Resolutions being one example.
Why did I keep making resolutions?
I have to admit, making resolutions is fun. It’s exciting to imagine that this will be the year. That I’ll accomplish great achievements. Or achieve great accomplishments. Perhaps build a new house from the ground up.
Or lose 5 pounds.
Making resolutions is fun.
It’s the follow-through that kills us.
Sticking with it, knowing what to do next, tracking our progress, completing one section before moving on, staying motivated…
These are the ‘Executive Functions’ that the ADHD mindset finds so challenging. If not impossible.
And so the happy, exciting, resolutions fade in the tornado of thoughts, and emotions that make ADHD such an all-encompassing problem. It has the potential to impact every area of life.
Forget to-do’s – Pick a to-be
What if you don’t make resolutions for what you’re going to do this year?
Don’t set goals. No specific tasks. Or as I used to do, make a whole list of things that would, by the end of year, make me into the Mr. Awesome. Because a year-long deadline might as well be 20 years. I have ADHD you see.
Instead, what if you choose how you’re going to be? Not what you’re going to do.
Instead of promising to lose 45 pounds, earn 7 figures a month, and marry a super-model… pick a way of being. One you can commit to every day. And come back to at any time of day.
Doing things that make you happy? Sounds good. But it will involve, well, doing things.
Whereas being happy? You could be that right now. As you read this. By simply smiling, enjoying this blog, appreciating life, savoring what you have. Contentment. Gratitude. Appreciation. Heck, even delight!
“What’s he been smoking?”
If this is sounding like new age nonsense, perhaps even ridiculous, notice that as you make that judgment, you may not be smiling and happy.
You could read this with a lightness, open to hearing something good. Not judging, but simply enjoying the ride. At the end, you may decide there’s something in what I say, great. If not, great. You at least enjoyed reading it.
Here’s the thing. We don’t have complete control over what life is going to throw at us, right?
Sure, if you NEVER walk down dark alleys in bad neighborhoods in the middle of the night, you probably can avoid getting mugged.
But you don’t have a lot of control over how the economy is going to go. Or who might pass away and leave you a fortune.
Well, you might have some control over that, but if you get caught, it won’t be good. Ava and I have been binge watching episodes of Poirot Mysteries… and the baddies always get caught.
You can’t completely control what life throws at you. But you can control how you deal with it. How your react. With ADHD, we tend to react quickly, and often in counter-productive ways. (See our video on Emotional Sensitivity)
So, rather than figure out what you’re going to do, choose how you’re going to be.
My way of BEING
Last year I picked three ways of being. Three points of view, if you prefer.
They were: Joyful. Curious. Grateful.
Last March, my mother was diagnosed with two types of cancer. In the middle of May I was there at her bedside, holding her hand, as she passed away. A month short of 92.
All through those last months, and afterwards at her memorial, I came back to being joyful, curious, and grateful.
Being joyful allowed me to see everything that happened from a great perspective.
Watching family step up to be there for her. Knowing each visit cheered her immeasurably. (Mom wasn’t easy to be around. She worried a lot. And as many of you know, cancer is horrible.)
I was joyful and grateful for the life she had given me. Joyful that Ava got to meet her. (She never got to meet my father.) Joyful that the hospital was there. That my brothers were so supportive. And I was grateful we had the chance to tell her what she had meant to us.
As things progressed, I was grateful that friends and family got to do so much for her. Seeing the grand-kids taking care of her, talking to her, sharing their adventures and watching Mom’s eyes glisten with delight, even when she couldn’t speak.
What about curiosity? I became curious about her life, and started asking a great deal more about her life and childhood. I learned about the disease.
And when I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to handle watching her go through this, I chose to be curious about my own reactions. To have them, but not to let them have me. I learned about myself. And my loved ones.
An hour before mom’s heart stopped, there had been 9 of us in her room, talking, laughing, sharing. Just the way mom loved it. After almost everyone left it was quiet. So mom took her leave as well.
I Don’t Know How Things Are Going To Go…
… But I do know how I will be in the face of whatever happens. Be it good, bad, or indifferent.
So when I’m suffering from anger, sorrow, cynicism, hopelessness… or whatever, I can choose something better.
There’s no deadline, no specific goal to achieve, no single moment, or finish line. It’s not something I can do in my spare time. Or at the expense of anything. It’s just the filter through which I’ll do everything.
And yes, I’ll forget. Of course I will. But then all I have to do is notice that I’m not being what I want to be. And then I can consciously choose – joy, wonder, and curiosity.
What about you?
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