You Say You Got Some Resolutions…
Do You Have a Plan?
Recently I googled “Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions”, and it’s a predictable list- more exercise, better diet, give back/volunteer, less alcohol, quit smoking, more time with family and friends, spend less/save more, learn something new, travel, relax more…Another search result that popped up was “Top 10 Broken New Year’s Resolutions”- I had to check THAT out, and guess what? It was the same list. What’s wrong with this picture?
When we think New Year’s Resolutions, we have hope, and we desire change for the year to come. However, this vision may not include the nuts and bolts of the what/how/when of making change happen and ensuring lasting success. There’s a lot of expectation packed into our resolutions, and when we factor in ADHD brain wiring, it can lead to pressure that causes our executive functioning to grind to a halt. Here’s what happens:
- We make too many resolutions
- We set the bar too high for us to succeed (we end up over-promising to ourselves, then under-delivering)
- We neglect to create do-able/achievable plans with incremental progress, which decreases our chances of creating and sustaining new habits.
Here’s what to do for effective ADHD management, and success:
- Make it a short list, or consider shortening the list you have. If you could get some serious traction with 2 resolutions (goals!), how good would THAT feel? Honestly now, how many times have you dropped off ALL of your resolutions?
- Apply some structure to your goals (I’ll be using exercise as an example) - be specific (what days will I exercise, and for how long?).
- We'll use a calendar/planner to schedule events, and we set reminders before the event. Double up and use a whiteboard! Do whatever works to stay on track.
- Break goals down to do-able time frames (weekly/monthly).
- Track successes as we go. Journal or keep a log. Also, if we miss a workout or drop off a routine, we just note it, observe what occurred, and move on. If necessary, we revise the structure.
- Manage expectations- go for early, achievable wins, to build momentum and gain some traction with a new behavior. This creates a foundation for incremental increases. If we excitedly resolve to exercise every day, we might consider going for 2x/week instead. If we accomplish that, it’s a win we can build on. If we stick with the every day commitment and exercise 2x/week, it may feel like a fail and we may drop the goal entirely.
- Once we’ve gotten some wins, THEN start building on that success by GRADUALLY increasing the challenge (length of workout, # of times/week).
- We celebrate when we reach our weekly/monthly goals! These are WINS and we should ALWAYS give ourselves credit for these types of successes.
Additional tip- if possible, partner up with someone for tasks like workouts- we increase the odds that we’ll engage in the scheduled activity.
This ADHD management approach will help us succeed with whatever goals/resolutions we have. Also, (shameless self-promotion part of blog), having a professional ADHD coach will help in a big way with planning and executing these goals.
So have fun accomplishing your goals, and Happy New Year!