Reply To: Breaking the Cycle of Failure

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Look at my UserName! Welcome to the “Club”. At 59 years old, I am still wrestling with the same issues. Getting a diagnosis was the first step. I made it through a double major in undergraduate (instrumental music and English – the 6.5 year plan), a joint degree in graduate/professional school (journalism and law), and half another Masters (English) = educated way beyond my intelligence. My first career was teaching, primarily a band director. I taught for seven years and my second job, as an assistant band director, was awesome. I loved it!

However, I wanted to make a “bigger” contribution, so I went to law school. During my third year of law school (a “3L”). I decided to get a Masters degree in journalism because I love to write. Because I also love to teach, I recently finished eighteen hours in graduate English so I can teach English at the junior college level.

I have practiced law now for a little over twenty years. Most people have a false impression that lawyers are rich, mainly because we can charge upwards of $200 per hours or more. In some cases, they may be right, at least many of us can make a good living.

However, think about being an attorney with ADHD. Most attorneys in my relatively large county would say, “Yes, he’s a good lawyer,” but the problem is that I suck as a businessman and with finances. I have lost two marriages, the last to a wonderful woman because I am so terrible with finances and am so damned distracted. My brain too often shuts down because of the many cases that I have to juggle along with my everyday life.

Here are some things that I’ve learned about life and career:

1. Accept yourself with all the blemishes, unconventional ways, and imperfections (A good book is The Spirituality of Imperfection by Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketchum. The basis is AA principles, but it has a much broader application). Imperfection is hard for us to accept but it is a reality and many of us are more than “good enough.”

2. Learn to live in the Now. Dr. Hallowell reminds us that we humans with ADHD have two basic time zones: Now and not now. Mindfulness meditation is a great practice. For me, at least, consistency is an issue, but again, staying after it albeit imperfectly is crucial. That is, if you fall off the wagon, get up and get back on (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by John Pirsig helped me here).

3. If you can’t find your niche, do something, even if it’s wrong. God knows how many jobs that I have applied for in the past twenty years – with other firms (I’m a solo practitioner), government jobs (In my city, a large segment of the population is employed by the federal government, besides the usual city, county, and state jobs), teaching jobs in public and private schools, etc. ad nauseum – only a couple of interviews in the past 20 years. I have taken minimum wage hourly jobs to give me a break from the stress of law practice. But the point is that I will keep on trying.

Especially with ADHD, it is a journey, not a destination. With the above outlook, I more often have peace in my journey.