Creating Resolutions the ADHD Way
Now that the New Year is upon us, many of you have probably announced that you have at least one, if not more resolutions that you hope to conquer before the end of the year. But what usually happens? All of your good intentions fail because of one reason—you let life get in the way. So, I’m going to share some tips on how to stop this cycle.
Have you ever said to someone or yourself that you need to call someone before the end of the day, then the day slips by and in the morning of the next day you kick yourself for not remembering? We all have done that, and it’s because of one simple step that we didn’t complete. We didn’t schedule it! We left the idea in our head, and that’s where it stayed.
You see, what typically happens is that we put so many ideas and thoughts into our brains and it sits in our short-term memory (our prefrontal lobe) for only a few seconds. And then guess what happens? Poof! It vanishes. In order for us to set a goal and stick to a long or short-term goal, we have to do a few things to “cement” it into our brains. It’s called taking baby steps and breaking the process down into smaller parts. Let me share those steps with you so you can accomplish your resolution:
- Take your great idea or goal and write it down. Make sure you phrase it in a positive way, such as, “I’m going to develop an exercise routine to get in shape.” Allow yourself the opportunity to process the information kinesthetically (physically). Then read it out loud. This allows you to process the information in a different way (verbally). As you read it, you are also processing it using your eyes (visually). You have just provided your brain with a multi-modal approach to help you remember that one goal. (30 seconds)
- Ask yourself the first question. What end result do I want? What do you really want to accomplish by the end of the year? Do you want to lose a size or two in your waist? Do you want to have better tone? Do you want to feel and look better or healthier? What do you really want? Try to visualize how you want to look. Even go so far as pinning up a photo of an image that reflects what you desire to achieve. Spend time searching for the answer and vision, and then write these things down. (2-3 minutes)
- As yourself the second question. What are the steps I’ll need to take to complete my goal? In this step you will need to sit down and identify just what you will need to do to get from point A (the beginning) to point Z (the final result). You will need to find a comfortable place to sit down and put your thinking cap on. Most people fail to complete this step because it takes time to think about just how you will implement each phase of the process into your life and calendar. I suggest you create an outline that covers obtaining any money needed for your goal, how you will keep a steady, consistent pace and schedule to keep your momentum going, and what specifically you will need along the way in the way of materials, time, space, etc. Don’t make the mistake of quickly going through this part of the process or you’ll miss many important pieces along the way that can throw you off track to reaching your goal. (15-60 minutes)
- Ask yourself the third question. How will I go about achieving my goal? Ah, now that’s the really important question because without taking time to think about this, you won’t commit to your goal. Will you spend 3 days a week going to the gym? How many minutes will you spend each time you go? You know that if you don’t commit to a certain amount of time consistently, you might let yourself down. But not this time! You are going to plan out how much time you’ll need to commit weekly to your goal because you know that it will never become a habit otherwise. So take a few minutes and look at ALL the things that fill up each day of each week and honestly see how much time you can realistically commit to, and then write down your estimates on a calendar. (15-20 minutes)
- Ask yourself the fourth question. What do I have to give up or shuffle to make certain I can commit weekly to my goal? If you are going to commit to something, then you need to consider everything that might stop you from achieving your goal! Sometimes life gets in the way; kids get sick, we get sick, holidays and birthdays creep up on us, or others want more from us than we want to give. But if you plan for those obstacles, then they are minor glitches that are easy to overcome because you’ve worked them into your schedule already. Look at each month and plan for obstacles. (5-10 minutes)
- Ask yourself the fifth question. How will I know when I have accomplished my goal? This is where you will measure your accomplishments so you can determine if the end result has been mastered or not. For some people, however, developing a healthy routine becomes something they really enjoy; therefore, the end measurement seems to vanish. They’ve developed a habit that they enjoy, and that’s what it’s all about. But for others, the first question you answered should contain a number, if you’re trying to lose weight, or a size, or a distinct feeling that you’ve felt before and want to feel again. Or perhaps you want to see certain results from what you’re created (business, projects, work). What does your end result look like? (1-2 minutes)
- Ask yourself the sixth question. How much time will I commit to attaining this goal? Will you give yourself 3 months? Six months? Or will it take all year? Be sure to give yourself enough time and work in some days or weeks when you can take it a bit easier (for instance the holidays) so you don’t feel pressured. As long as you commit to making up for lost time every time, you’ll do just fine. (1-2 minutes)
- Take everything you’ve written down, grab your calendar, grab a seat, and create your plan of action. This is where the rubber meets the road. If you don’t create the time for your commitment, then it won’t happen. It’s just that simple. No one likes schedules, but if you truly want to make a change in your habits (which are what most resolutions seem to be), then you will have to list very clearly, when and what you plan to do. (15-25 minutes)
- Find someone who will hold you accountable for your commitment to your goal. This is an optional step that can be very important to those of you who have a hard time committing to tasks that require time and many steps. Ask a family member or good friend to keep check on your progress and encourage you when you forget or feel like giving up. This is also when an ADD Coach can partner with you so you will stay on target and remind you of why you want to be successful with your goal. Their encouragement will help you to always keep your focut on your future wants and needs.. (1-10 minutes)
- Write a positive statement that includes all the things above and post it on the mirror in your bathroom (or somewhere you’ll read it often). (1-2 minutes)
Example: I will spend 1 hour at Silver’s Gym every week on M, W, & F (6-7:00 AM) and weigh 130 lbs by the end of September.
Now that’s a smart goal that is specific and clear! You just invested about an hour and a half of your time creating a resolution or goal that you can measure and obtain. You know what you have to do and when; the hardest part for an ADD person is getting there and maintaining a clear focus. You will achieve this goal because you have all the elements in place and someone behind you who is going to consistently cheer you on and encourage you along the way. Creating workable resolutions – ones that you know you will master – is a great way to begin your new year!
HAPPY GOAL SETTING EVERYONE!