A Different Kind Of New Year’s Resolution

What New Year’s Resolution did you make this year?

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. Rick Green, new year's resolution, Adult ADHDPerhaps 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.

TotallyADD, the best ADD, ADHD videosThis year, my resolution is to be joyful, curious, and full of wonder. About whatever happens.

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?

Best,

Rick

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4 Replies to “A Different Kind Of New Year’s Resolution”

  1. Aw Paris !! Joyful, curious and full of wonder, sounds like the right place for you and your family to visit this year.
    PS congratulations on receiving an Order of Ontario. Do you get a free Provincial Park pass with that?
    Wayne McFarlane

  2. In 2015, I made the goal to start my baking business. I started a crowdfunding campaign. Raised a good bit of money. Opened the business. Had an AMAZING time baking for a couple farmers markets all summer.

    It’s winter now. In Ohio. It’s tough to find a good-traffic farmers market that’s indoors. Options.

    Resolution: I need to pull myself together and figure out what to do in the drought times of the business…and aim more at making it my full-time job.

  3. Hi Rick, like you I used to make a list of resolutions and I genuinely felt excited in the moment of saying them out loud. Of course I should have self imposed goals! These were to accompany all the goals set by work, and the hard arduous task of simply getting up and out of the house in time to achieve them. Fortunately I used to forget my resolutions by January 3 each year, and was too bored by the subject to ask friends and family about theirs. Oh dear!
    Now I make a few wishes instead – this feels better, I still remember them ( a miracle! ) and have started on one which is to make a connection again with my estranged sister. I have picked up the phone and we have started to talk. So I recommend trying a short wish list instead of resolutions!
    Happy new year x

  4. So………. just signed into this site.

    WTH??? Firstly the page is so busy my ADAH brain, scans , half follows the registration procedure because I all ready reading all the other things on the page.
    And then ‘dragging” the pix to the thingy for verification. My enter button was getting a beating until ……… you guessed, took big breath and started all over again…….. 4 times the charm buddy!
    And here I am!
    54……. diagnosed as a kid but no one thought to tell me until last fall.
    yessssssss……….. ok what drugs will make me operate better?? Bring them on baby!!

    What?? Can be addictive?? No way Jose! I managed this long without them I can just carry on looking for ….. well, everything. After all my hubby of 10 yrs is now resigned to the fact that most of my sentences start with ” where’s my…….”

    OK, on second thought I’ll give it a go.

    MIRACLE OF MIRACLES!! I, yes me……. the Ultimate Queen of multi tasking all of my jobs never completing one ……… started a job (putting the yard to bed for the winter….. ) and finished it! I took the required lunch break, did not get distracted by the dishes, the sweeping, the ….. squirrel?. Nope! I finished it.

    Give me more of those lovely (who cares if they are addictive) drugs!

    Week one: Honeymoon of production! Cleaned the garage, organized (yes I said it people….. ) my cupboards and all sorts of nifty stuff that I always admired in my friends.

    Week two: Hell week. Reflection, regret, guilt… heavy, bring you to your knees guilt. Heart breaking gratitude that your family loves you regardless of the extra work, patience, continual reminders………. Late nights sobbing calling help lines to talk to anyone that has clue…….. no self harm shit. Just wondering if you are losing your mind once and for all. Those help lines are great!!! I got some good info. The main thing was ………. to just breathe. It takes time.

    Doc appointments: General Anxiety Disorder too………. niiiiiiice! More drugs. Two weeks of taking the angry pills to “give them a chance”.

    Doc! there ain’t no way in Hades I am taking those again! Can we just try to see if at this age I can sleep like a normal person???

    Happy pills 🙂 Bright eyed and bushy tailed …… my eyebrows need plucking, the sink is dirty, need a rag from downstairs, make a tea, feed the dogs, what is that noise, water running upstairs. and why are my tweezers there? eyebrows! Ping! Tea!

    Maybe I need a dosage adjustment.

    Hot Flash………… really??? Menopause take a break….. I just can find room on my plate to deal with you right now. Crap PLATE!! chicken on the plate in fridge needs cooking…….

    Hello… my name is WhatMemory and I am ADHD with GAD.

    How the heck are ya??

    Disclaimer : this is the real inner workings of a 54 yr old had a career for 30 yr woman who to the outside world looks “normal” . She is not responsible for your opinions or discussions on her post. She freely admits that your opinion is your opinion and cherishes it. She is not responsible for posting recipes or gardening tips here as the tabs may not respond as quickly to her every shifting site search.

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