Step Up to the Plate: Finding Success With ADHD
Tired of ADHD getting in the way of your job, relationships, and, well, life? Stop letting fear and procrastination creep in with these tips for taking a risk and asking for advice to find success.
Why do some adults with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) succeed — jobs, relationships, life — and others don’t? Winners face challenges head-on, take smart risks, get help if needed, and plan for good fortune.
I have a friend who struggled for years before being diagnosed with ADHD. Despite her challenges, she managed to build a coaching practice and create a popular adult ADHD support group. What made her successful? She actively pursued what was interesting and important to her.
In fact, that was why we met. After hearing me talk at an ADHD conference, she asked for my business card and e-mailed me questions about how she could meet her goals. She sought out people who knew things that she wanted to know rather than stubbornly trying to figure everything out herself.
Procrastinating? Move Ahead
It’s human nature to avoid situations that make us uncomfortable or tend not to go well. Sometimes, though, the smarter choice is to move ahead rather than try to sidestep the problem. If you’re looking for a new job, after a string of rejections from employers, don’t waste your time by checking out your friends’ Facebook profiles.
When you try to talk yourself into action, remind yourself of the intended goal. Better yet, don’t even put yourself into those timewasting situations. It’s easier not to pull up Facebook than it is to stop after one minute. (If you waste too much time on certain websites, download LeechBlock or StayFocusd, which you can program to limit your time on them.)
Fear of Trying? Risk Failure
To be successful, be willing to fail. If you never fail, you’re playing it too safe — and that’s boring. You may feel that you’ve done enough failing already. Remind yourself that the strategies you’ve learned over the years increase your odds of being successful this time. For example, now that you’ve pushed yourself to input meetings, commitments, and deadlines into your smart phone, or to be diligent about keeping a paper planner, you are less likely to disappoint your boss by being late on an assignment. Perhaps you are ready now to go for that promotion.
Don’t Know? Ask Someone
I have built a successful psychology practice by asking for advice. I need the wisdom of people who have been there. I can’t figure out all of it myself. I cultivate a large network of professionals, so I have knowledgeable people to ask when something comes up. (And I try to give good advice when consulted.) If you feel self-conscious about approaching your boss or colleague for help, remember that it’s better to appear interested than to fumble along on your own.
A college student with ADHD had a paper to do. After long hesitation, he decided to ask his professor to look over his draft, so he could incorporate any suggestions in the final version. This showed the professor that his student wants to do well.
Need Luck? Swing the Bat
The more times you swing the bat, the more likely you are to get a hit. In our pessimistic moments, we convince ourselves that something won’t turn out well, because “nothing ever does.” But when we stop and think about it, the opposite is often true. Some things do end well. You can de-clutter your desk drawers or remember your wife’s birthday several years in a row. Remind yourself of those successes when doubt creeps in — and step up to the plate.
Ari Tuckman, Psy.D., MBA, is a member of the ADDitude ADHD Medical Review Panel.
Updated on January 29, 2020