The Biggest, Baddest F-word

by | Aug 3, 2023 | ADHD Success Skills and Tools | 0 comments

ADHD fear of failure

There’s a four-letter word that starts with F that many of us with ADHD try to avoid. 

To keep this word out of our heads and the mouths/thoughts of loved ones, we exhaust ourselves by overworking EXTREMELY hard OR we completely avoid doing things. 

It’s all or nothing. 

We are either working long hours, racing around like an energizer bunny, staying up late, doing all the things…or we are saying no, refusing to start new things, and not accepting new challenges – all so we don’t FAIL.

The fear of failing is normal. Realistic. Understandable. With ADHD, we have a history of starting and never finishing. Of dropping the ball. Of letting people down. I know I lived like that for years. 

So we either say yes – usually impulsively – and jump in full throttle to prove to ourselves and everyone around us that we can do it this time. That our ADHD won’t get in the way. OR we say no. 

All or nothing.

But what if there was a middle ground? What if you could find a way to live an easier ADHD life where you broke the pattern of being stuck by a fear of failure by making better decisions on what you choose to do?

Getting Unstuck from the Fear of Failure 

If you are standing on the precipice of a new activity, here are some things to consider before you take the plunge. 

Three Things to Do Before Saying Yes or No

  1. Get all the information. Ask questions to make sure you know exactly what is ahead of you.
    1. What am I committing to?
    2. Why am I doing it? What will I gain?
    3. Do I have the time and space in my schedule and life?
    4. Is it within my strengths or weaknesses?
    5. What help can I get or who else can do this?
  1. Once you have the details, pause and practice awareness. What is your immediate reaction? Is it to say yes or no? Why do you have that response?
    1. If it’s a yes: Is it because you want to please your people, prove something, make you feel good? Is it an activity that excites you as something new and shiny or does it really tap into an interest that you have?
    2. If a no: Are you reacting out of fear or are you really not interested? 

Get curious and give yourself a chance to respond and not just react.

  1. Give yourself a moment to imagine saying yes and determine what structure / reminders you would need so you follow through and succeed.
    1. What do you need – accountability, deadlines, reminders, outlined plan? How much time will it take you? Are these things possible?

These 3 steps let you step into that beautiful gray area and give you the time to strategically consider your options. To determine what is a good decision for you at that time. 

We need to try new things. Our ADHD brains need those dopamine hits to keep learning and growing, be entertained and active. There are too many amazing things in life that you haven’t experienced! 

But on the flip side, failing repeatedly can lead to high emotional costs of guilt, shame, conflicts, self-hatred, etc.

So being afraid to try can be extremely damaging. No one with ADHD wants to lead a boring life!

Try using these 3 steps to make decisions that set you up for success!

One final word – if an ADHD fear of failure is keeping you from joining the ADHD Success Club for our final season, I hope you walk through these 3 steps. The weekly training can be the structure / support you need to learn other ways of managing your ADHD so you can make the best decisions and live your best life!


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