New Year’s Resolutions

New Year ResolutionsMade your New Year’s Resolutions yet?

Great.

Forgotten them already?

Even better.

Now you can create some new ones. I don’t know about you, but I’m like a lot of adults with ADHD—I love ‘new.’ Plus I have a problem sticking to long term goals.

Oddly enough, I love setting goals. It’s fun to imagine isn’t it? But it’s depressing to find my ‘Goals for 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013…’

Like all of my report cards from Kindergarten on, the goals I’d set each year were about trying to fix myself, to get my ADHD managed.

Every year it’s the same. “Get more organized. Use my agenda. De-clutter. Simplify. Get in shape…

MY RESOLUTIONS NEVER EXCITE ME

The resolutions I used to make, year after year, were clearly important to me, or I wouldn’t keep rehashing them, right? So why didn’t I ever stick to them? Working with my coach, I realized why. My resolutions never excited me enough to stick with them—cause when I’m excited about something I can hyper-focus and complete a ton of work.

The reason the goals didn’t call to me is because they were about ‘fixing myself’, and ‘managing my ADHD symptoms.’ But there was rarely a clear reason as to why I wanted to manage my symptoms. If I was able to focus, use my agenda, complete tasks… big deal.

It’s a bit like having to take your car in to get serviced. A chore. A pain. An expense.

But if we were going on a long road trip to an exciting destination, then there was an inspiring reason to make sure the car was serviced and running well. It was still a chore… but the payoff was much clearer. A safe, fun trip!

THERE ARE ONLY 2 REASONS TO MASTER MY ADHD

When you have ADHD, building new habits, putting structures in place, mastering time and clutter, overcoming procrastination… is doubly difficult because ADHD is a problem with doing what you know you should be doing.

Why put all that time and energy into mastering my ADHD? It’s hard creating the new neural pathways that we call ‘habits.’ When I have succeeded in managing my ADHD, it was either because I was trying to avoid repeating a failure. Or succeeding at something wonderful, exciting, interesting, challenging, and meaningful.

In simple terms, it was to avoid a major pain or get a powerful jolt of pleasure.

Less bad stuff. More good stuff.

And ‘getting into shape’ is completely neutral. And a lot of time and sweat.

Getting in shape so I feel better? Not bad. But I’m feeling reasonably well now.

Getting in shape so other people admire my physique? Big deal.

Getting in shape because we’re going to be touring Paris for 10 days and I want to be full of energy? My wife and I? Yes! The kids are going to join us? Double yes.

FORGET ABOUT SELF-IMPROVEMENT

That’s right. Forget about becoming a better person. Even if just for one year.

What? But isn’t that what you just said? Isn’t the goal to do less of something bad, and more of something good? Lowering the ‘naughty’ and raising the ‘nice’?

I’m going to suggest that going after a goal that actually gets you excited will make you a better person. Doing something wonderful for yourself can’t help but transform you.

After that trip to Paris we were much closer to the kids, and there was a huge shift in their view of themselves in the world that continues to echo through their lives four years later.

That trip forced us to save money, cut expenses, communicate with each other to co-ordinate everything, sit together and dream about what to see when we got there. Reading. Researching. Discovering. And yes, it also meant getting into shape because we would be doing a lot of walking.

A reason to leave the house and walk, walk, walk.

WE LIKE SHINY. LET’S USE IT TO OUR ADVANTAGE.

The challenge, of course, was doing all the things that needed to be done to actually get us to Paris. Luckily, I wasn’t doing it alone. I had help three others helping. We made a list of everything we would need to do, plan, purchase, organize, or cancel while we were away.

Breaking big jobs into small doable chunks is how I succeed at everything these days. Looking back, at life before I was diagnosed, I can see it’s how I accomplished things back then. Either I broke things down into a list of steps. Or I had someone else do it for me. Whenever I’ve produced a TV series, it’s the Production Manager who organizes everything and tells me what to do next. Or, discusses what needs doing with me, and the rest of the team, so I know what the one thing is that I need to do next.

The analogy I use is that I’m standing in a baseball batting cage, with one of those machines firing the balls at me, one at a time, and I’m focused on nailing each one, one at a time. Pow. Pow. Pow.

Instead of one daunting Death Star of a task, it becomes a hundred small tasks, each with it’s own ‘victory’ as it’s completed. A check mark. Cross it off. Black it out on the page! Look at our progress.

In the next few weeks, we’ll be setting our goals for the year. And the way we do it is to set goals for the next three months. A year is forever. I still try to cram too much into three months. Ambition never seems to connect with reality. This year though, we’re going to set modest goals we know we can accomplish. And then when they’re done, we can take on ‘extra projects’. Bonus items.

This is huge. Instead of yet another list that’s half completed, I’ll have a list that’s done. Totally done! And possibly some bonus stuff as well!

But I also know myself well enough not to just put one item on the list. I’ll need two or three projects that I can bounce between. And one has to be pure fun. (I love making Memes.)

FORGET TASKS. PICK A WAY OF BEING.

If task management isn’t a big issue for you, a second suggestion.

Instead of a list of things to do, goals to achieve, or ways that you’ll be so improved no one will recognize you, and they’ll fall at your feet in awe…

… Pick a way of being. Something that isn’t a ‘fix’. Something that is totally you.

I’ll explain in my next blog…

Best,

Rick

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