Does anyone else have issues setting goals? What’s worked?

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    • #189049


      Does anyone else have the issue of not being able to set meaningful goals? I’m talking about the type of goals that come with enough emotional content to be able to drive some type of directed action over the long haul. I know from reading these forums and from other ADHD information that lots of us ADHD’ers spend a lot of time reading self-help resources, looking for that “magic formula” that, if we just found it would make everything good. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s a lot of good information out there. The problem, at least that I’ve found is that all that self help information wants you to start out with a goal in mind, or better yet – a passion. I just don’t have one.

      I’ve gone through life feeling like I’m at one of those restaurants with a great menu. It all looks good, but I feel bad about whatever I pick because I’m missing out on the other things that I didn’t pick. The end result is a constant feeling of dissatisfaction and a lack of drive. For instance, I want to learn to play guitar. I’ve signed up for lessons, but when it comes time to practice I can’t motivate myself to do it because there’s always something else I want to do too and I feel like I’m missing out. I end up doing nothing and feeling useless.

      I have a good job that pays well, so that’s not the issue. It’s what I do (or don’t do) in my off time that’s the problem. Nothing seems sufficiently motivating that I want to do it. I’m envious of those people who have an overriding goal that they dedicate their lives to. My whole existence feels like like trying to pull a toothpick out of a tornado.

      I’ve seen an ADHD Doctor, but his only interest is to medicate me. Once he found a medication that helped me focus he wrote me off and sent me to my Family Doctor to continue the prescription. That’s like revving an engine with nowhere to go. A good definition of anxiety. I’ve seen Social Workers and Psychologists, but how do you change for the better when you can’t conceive of what “better” looks or feels like? At $150.00 a session, to get nothing out of it kind of makes me feel even more hopeless.

      Anyone else experience this? What did you do to overcome it?

    • #189050

      I get that all the time. There are so many things I am interested in. What works for me is putting the other things on a list for later. I choose one thing that I want to concentrate on for a few weeks or however long the first
      course takes. Then whenever an urge to get distracted by some other really great thing, I tell myself that I just need to postpone that for a little while and put it on a list of all the things I want to do.
      After the course, maybe it’s not so important anymore. I also reward myself for finishing the course and doing each of the practicing. Like at the end of a guitar course, I would organize a “concert” with someone who understands me and appreciates my efforts (and will not criticize how I play).
      If I keep my goals small, like just until the end of one course, it’s easier to fulfill and I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything much.
      This doesn’t mean that it will work for you. But I hope you can find something!

    • #189128

      You need to choose something anything and not worry about all the other things you could be doing . Like guitar for example I learnt on youtube ( justin guitar is amazing!) I make sure I practice everyday just a bit bit or I don’t keep it up. Sometimes I have break days. I think the biggest thing for me is choosing something I really want to do and acknowledging that it is not always going to be easy to keep it up sometimes I have to push myself when I’m tired etc but I focus on how happy I will be in the future when I play this song I’m working on. Learning to accept frustration and believe in myself to perservere has been the biggest thing for me.

    • #205066

      @Buddha192 It’s been said pills don’t take the place of skills and this is true for ADHD. While medication is needed to focus and keep alert it does not provide strategies and skills that are required for living. This is why a multi modal treatment is used for ADHD. The multi modal treatment refers to the need for medication for focus and alertness, exercise and diet/nutrition for keeping the brain motivated to do the boring tasks people with ADHD are not motivated to do and Coaching for strategies and skills for finding work arounds to ADHD challenges and getting things done and also just managing oneself in a positive way to get one’s best self functioning and going forward in life.

      From what you say you may have a challenge which a lot of people with ADHD have and that is not knowing what you really, really want. This can often especially be the case with the Inattentive type of ADHD. I know from experience that coaches work with people with ADHD to work out what they really want in life. They do this by working out a person’s strengths and also their innate qualities or the qualities that are the essence of who they are. When the qualities that are the essence of who a person is go unfulfilled in life eg a curious person in a very boring job where no or very little intellectual stimulation exists they cannot be happy and even if they get paid well feel unfulfilled and dissatisfied with life.

      Once a person realises what their strengths are and their true innate qualities that need satisfaction they can then work at getting those needs met of their’s. these are basically psychological needs that unless fulfilled leaves a person dissatisfied with life.

      So look for a coach to work with you to find out your strengths and also your innate qualities and also how to go about getting these needs met.

    • #205098

      Finding your passion is not enough. What worked for me is actually something a lot of self-help books will advise against, but some sharp-minded ancient philosophers probably would have strongly recommended: figure out what you DON’T want before, or together with, figuring out what you want.

      In my mid childhood through the teen years, I was highly focused on both. At the same time I was developing my passion for the natural sciences, I was developing a sense of all the nasty things that happened to adults (and some overconfident teens, all disproportionately likely to be fellow ADHDers, but I didn’t know about the relationship between my neurotype and these things at the time) that I didn’t want to happen to me:

      Serious financial troubles like bankruptcy and deep or extended consumer debt with the resulting bad credit. (So far, I was only in this kind of trouble for less than a year, and a mild form of it, held afloat precisely by good credit.)
      STIs and unwanted pregnancies.
      Abusive relationships, being either the abuser or the abused.
      Frequent unemployment or underemployment.
      Drug, alcohol, gambling etc. addictions.
      Strongly lifestyle-related illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers striking before a ripe old age.
      The obesity that often precedes and predicts those lifestyle-related illnesses.
      Cavities. (These I ended up getting my first of when I was a teenager with braces, and I got 2 1/2 more as an adult so far.)
      Hating my job, my spouse, my co-workers, my kid(s) even while I stuck to them.
      Mental illness.
      Car accidents.
      Housewifery. (If I were a man, the equivalent thing to avoid would have been being stuck in a crummy job just to support a housewife and a couple spawn.)

      Maybe intuitively but not explicitly knowing that I was precisely of the neurotype most likely to suffer any and all of these things, but more likely just seeing even the neurotypicals in my life end up in at least one of these situations (in the case of my non-ADHD mother, often but not always linked to rocky relationships with probable undiagnosed ADHDers like my father and first stepfather), I was the one young person in the room who dared to say and think explicitly “yes, this can all happen to me and I’m going to do my darnedest to make sure as little as possible of it does.”

      And I don’t think that without this attitude I would be where I am now. For instance, I pursued my passion in the natural sciences, but also keeping in mind avoiding all of the above nasty consequences. So I opted for an academic career with its predictable steps and structure and good-enough salary over the modern self-reinventing chaos of the corporate world. Before that, I let fancy brand-name universities wait until I was in grad school, when they would pay me to go, and took scholarships to a state school for my bachelor’s. Before that, I worked hard in high school, with the help of Ritalin to help me get through the more boring classes that I flunked in 7th grade leading to my diagnosis, so I could get those scholarships. After grad school, I let the academic job market decide which city I would live in and when, and if I had to chuck a boyfriend or leave the comforts of home to do it, so be it, that was the price of avoiding unemployment, underemployment, financial problems, and housewifery. And all the while I brushed my teeth (but not always well enough in the back), managed somehow not to let diet and exercise matters get too out of hand (though I kind of came close in grad school and my postdoctoral years), and didn’t use any recreational drugs other than alcohol and trying marijuana once in a place it was recently legalized, and I even never went back to alcohol after having my kid because I wasn’t comfortable with the amount I’d drink in a sitting given what I’d heard about binge drinking and its risks.

      So if you can’t find your passion, figure out what you don’t want first and how to avoid getting what you don’t want. Then within your options for avoiding what you don’t want, find the one that’s the most exciting or, at least, the least boring. It’s called “defensive pessimism.” Counter-cultural as it may be in today’s world, it works. And in matters like subprime mortgages and covid, a lot of people in the ranks of the powerful could have used a heck of a lot more of it. The positive flip side of it, going back to the ancient Stoics and cited in some self-help books, is realizing when things get tough just how much worse they could have been. I feel strained at my job and bored by some aspects of it? Well, I’ve been able to keep doing it even during the covid crisis, and it has aspects that I actually find exciting. There’s always some good luck within bad luck. Heck, maybe if I hadn’t had ADHD, I would have been a little too relaxed about some of these issues like the hare that lost the race to the tortoise and, like my mother (or neurotypical young adults of this century who don’t finish college on time, get pregnant or get someone pregnant at an inconvenient time, or catch covid and flood the local hospitals), I could have ended up with a few of them anyway.

      The original post is old, so good luck – and good recognition of the good aspects of your luck – to whoever might read this.

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