I find it amazing how people with ADHD can pack their lives full with activities.
In a frantic quest for stimulation, we dash from one meeting to the next. We get involved with this committee or that task. Our weekends are one long string of outings, projects and activities. We rush to get things done for everyone else while our own projects and needs sit neglected.
Despite being overwhelmed and on the verge of exhaustion, we continually and impulsively say yes to things without thinking.
And the end result?
We get tired and cranky. We become more forgetful than ever. We begin to complain when we realize we’ve signed on to do things we don’t want to do or don’t do well and the things we want to do and excel at are gathering dust waiting for us.
Aaargh! We’re leaking energy in massive doses and it simply leaves us feeling drained.
Consider for a moment what would happen if you saved that energy for yourself and your own pursuits. (I’ll pause here to give you a moment to reflect…)
Now imagine what you could do if you directed that energy to your business or family? What could you accomplish? Is it likely you’d have more fun and more time for your own stuff? Would life be calmer? You bet!
Here are four tips to help you plug your ADHD energy drains:
One: Learn what level of activity works best for you.
I believe that people with ADHD have an internal barometer that sets the right balance between extremes of activity levels. Pay attention to it.
Too much going on and you will be overwhelmed and more forgetful than ever. Too little going on and you’ll wind up bored, depressed and floundering.
When you’ve got the right number of things going on at any given time you’re energized and focused but not frantic or exhausted.
Two: Accept your need for structure.
Despite our natural inclination to resist structure, we really need some in our daily lives. Otherwise we slip into flounder mode.
Use structure firm enough to keep you on your path, yet pliable enough to provide you with the flexibility you need to relish in the unexpected.
Three: Create a list of what you do and don’t do well.
Be clear about situations in which you thrive and can succeed, and those that create grief. For instance, if you can’t sit still for more than 15 minutes, joining a club with long weekly meetings will drive you crazy. If you have a hard time with planning, then chairing a committee with a big project and many deadlines sets you up for failure.
Four: Learn to say ‘maybe’ and make sure you can follow through before you say yes to a new obligation.
This one can be tough and may take practice. It requires you to confront your impulsive behavior straight on.
The next time you prepare to open your mouth to commit to something, stop for a moment and quickly consider:
- Is this something you do or don’t do well?
- What is going on in your life at the moment?
- Is this the right opportunity for you and the right time to act on it? If you’re not sure, buy some time; say you need to think about it before making a commitment and ask the person to get back to you tomorrow. (HINT: If you ask them to get back to you, then you don’t have to remember to get back to them.)
Remember your goal is to rid your life of guilt and to have more time and energy for the things that are most important to you. The result will be a life of joy, success and satisfaction.
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