It seems like this year needs one big speeding ticket. My goodness, it’s going by too quickly… especially since my resolution list for the year is bigger and more glamorous than ever!
This is unquestionably the year I will finish my book, win an Oscar, get cast in a Broadway show, and finally accomplish my most challenging goal of all: Paying my credit card bill on time.
I have ADHD, and I think I hold the world record for the longest list of resolution items that are either completely gone from my memory, almost completed, or some combination of the two.
Between struggling to follow through and sometimes simply forgetting, people with ADHD may have a harder time sticking to their resolutions, especially as the year goes on.
Here are some of my tips for creating a list of achievable goals — and sticking to it once the first blush of the New Year is long forgotten.
Have an Honest Conversation with Yourself
When you have ADHD, your goals and priorities can change quickly and drastically. You might’ve completely forgotten about the flying lessons you wanted to take in January. But you’ve spent the past few months becoming an expert in sailing!
If you ask me, that doesn't mean you failed at your resolution. Think about it from a deeper perspective: If you had a goal, there's likely a reason behind that goal.
Maybe you wanted to learn how to fly because you wanted to have a cool new method of transportation or you wanted to travel more. Sailing is a perfectly acceptable alternative!
Think about your underlying motivations for the beginning of the year and frame your progress through that lens. You probably got a lot further than you realized — the "how" might've just changed along the way.
If on the other hand, you find that you completely lost track of some resolutions, it might be time to have a heart-to-heart conversation with yourself. Pull up that list you wrote at the end of December and see what you have and haven't accomplished.
Be proud of what you've achieved so far, but really understand the underlying "why" for the goals you may have neglected.
My ADHD makes following through really hard. I'm always changing ideas and goals, so I try to have a firm "why" to every resolution I make. This allows me to be much more honest with myself.
Many of last year’s unsuccessful resolutions were the ones that were too broad:
- write more
- read more books
- spend more time with friends
What I needed to do was be more specific and set more tangible goals they could be achieved in a shorter amount of time, such as:
- write three stories per week
- commit to reading one book per week
- have dinner with one friend per week
As someone with ADHD, it can be hard for me to plan too far into the future (don’t even ask me about my retirement savings). So rather than building the whole house at once, I’ve found that it’s much easier taking it one brick at a time.
As someone with ADHD, almost is one of my favorite words. As in, I’m almost done with so many projects.
I often start working on a dozen different projects all at the same time with no actual end goals. I am probably somewhere between 60 and 80 percent done with at least 20 different projects that may never actually see the light of day.
Why? Simply put, ADHD makes it hard for those of us living with it to focus. It’s an obvious statement, but it bleeds into every aspect of our lives.
For me that sometimes looks like this:
I start working on a writing project and make outrageous amounts of progress, so much so that I feel buzzed off of how productive I’m being. I feel like I can take over the world! And then I realize that this project would also make a great screenplay.
How do you write a screenplay? I should take a class. Where can I find some online classes? I need to find some online classes. Hey cool, this website has free film courses. I should definitely enroll in this screenwriting course.
Oh, hey, a free French cinema course too. Oh, AND French history? Well, I do love Les Misérables. I wonder if there’s a course on musical composition.
What was I working on again?
You get the point. Seeing a project from beginning to end is hard for people with ADHD, so commit to something small and follow it through to the end. One finished project can take you farther than a dozen unfinished ones.
If Your Resolution Involves Routine, Make it Fun
Routines can be an incredible tool to help optimize one’s life, but for me, they’re the single hardest thing to follow. Every year I’ve tried to set a routine, and every year I’ve failed. As someone with ADHD, routines are difficult because they’re, well, routine!
I love having a schedule that’s much more spontaneous and diversified, which I realize defeats the purpose of a schedule. So, for my resolutions that involve a new routine, I change them up a little each time to keep things interesting.
For example, one of my goals for the year is to try meditating every day — a challenging task for anyone, let alone someone with ADHD! To mix things up, I will be meditating to a different piece of music every single day and doing a different type of meditation each week.
Another resolution I have is to prep my meals each week instead of eating out. To keep things spicy (no pun intended), I’ll cook around a different theme each week. That way I won’t get bored.
Ask for Feedback
Constructive feedback can be hard to digest, but sometimes hearing from an impartial source is important for growth.
I’m lucky to have a great rapport with a boss who gives honest feedback in a friendly and professional way. So much so that I’ve even been able to open up to him about having ADHD.
I feel comfortable asking him about things I need to work on. We have monthly check-ins to discuss my progress.
It can be hard to look at ourselves with an unbiased perspective. Sometimes, I might think I’m doing phenomenally at something that actually needs a lot of work. I think I’m doing a terrible job but have actually been making great strides.
Working with someone who will help you be accountable to yourself is an excellent way to improve this year.
This last one’s a little silly, but it works for me.
Whatever resolutions you’ve made, set some kind of weekly reminder and track how you’re doing.
For most of my resolutions, it’s not that I didn’t want to do them. It’s that I honestly forgot them. I wrote them down on December 31 and can’t remember where I put them. By this time of year, most of us have forgotten our resolutions.
Try setting a reminder, at an interval of your choosing, even if it’s just on your phone. Do it now. Trust me.
Having a resolution doesn’t have to be a bland challenge that you forget shortly after the holidays. Doing little things like spicing up a routine, setting reminders, and having a friend keep you accountable can all be very effective ways of sticking to that resolution once and for all.
Good luck and make the best of the rest of the year!
For more information on how to manage ADHD, reach out to your doctor or healthcare team.
ADHD-US-NP-00061 JUNE 2019