The ADHD Myth: Just Try Harder

by | Sep 18, 2020 | ADHD Symptom Control | 1 comment

This week I kicked off the ADHD Success Club with a brand new module – Realities of ADHD. 

It reminded me about all the incorrect ideas and myths about adult ADHD floating around. I’m amazed at how often I read ridiculous advice about how to manage Attention Deficit Disorder. 

The worst, and most damaging is: ‘Just try harder’.

ADHD Myth: Just Try Harder?

That idea was touted by an expert recently and it left me fuming. Their advice for managing ADHD was summed up in this little tidbit: “If you’re rushed in the morning, just get up 30 minutes earlier.”

Wow! So, that’s all we need to do. Get up earlier and all our ADHD morning problems will be solved.

Goodbye to confusion, goodbye to frittering away time, goodbye to lost car keys and no clean underwear. Simply get up earlier and life will easily fall into place.

I’d laugh if I weren’t so painfully aware of how damaging this kind of advice can be to people with ADHD.

How Are ADHD Myths Damaging?

The idea that outsmarting ADHD is as simple as trying harder fuels the myth that ADHD is merely a failure of will-power.

After all, isn’t “just try harder” something every adult with ADHD has heard their entire life?

The ‘just try harder’ approach really touches a nerve for me. Like most adults with ADHD, I have a long, unpleasant history with ‘just try harder’.

My elementary school report cards are riddled with the phrase, “If only Dana would try harder…”. My junior high and high school report cards were simply riddled with bad grades.

It wasn’t until my second semester of college (I nearly flunked out of the first semester) that I realized in order to learn and get good grades I needed to change the way I went about being a student.

Over the course of a year I slowly changed how I attended classes and studied; changes which allowed me to pay attention, focus, remember, and organize.

As I created new habits, structures and environments my world began to turn around. I found I could excel at school if I approached being a student in a manner suited to me and how I learn.

To others it may have appeared I’d finally started trying harder and applying myself to my studies.

In reality, it was anything but.

In reality I began to design my days and my life in a way suited to my zany, beautiful ADHD brain years before I even knew what Attention Deficit was. And it was those changes, not the ADHD myth ‘just try harder’, that turned my life around.

Outsmarting ADHD isn’t a matter of trying harder. Outsmarting ADHD is a complex, multi-layered process of adjusting your habits, environment and structure. It takes time and energy.

Yes, you need will-power to outsmart your ADHD. You need will-power to alter your life. You need will-power to get back up when you falter, to brush yourself off and keep moving to create the life you want.

That type of will-power is very different from simply trying harder to overcome the roadblocks and symptoms of ADHD.

Because if trying harder were all it took, ADHD wouldn’t pose much of a problem, would it?

Interested in busting the other myths of ADHD? Join the ADHD Success Club 
and you can get the recording of the Realities of ADHD module and join us for next week’s topic – ADHD Needs Awareness! 

You’ll find more details here:

Dana Rayburn is an ADHD Coach in Oregon, but don’t worry… She works by telephone helping ADHD adults all over the world live more effortlessly and successfully with ADHD.

1 Comment

  1. Dana

    This is so great. Not just because my name is Dana too and I basically heard the EXACT same things, but because you verbalized it for others. I feel like ADHD gets such a cliche stigma—the hyper kid who just needs to try harder. I’m trying to break this stigma and create some awareness and acceptance myself. Thank you! 🥰


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