ADHD-Friendly Jobs

“I Don’t Know What I Want to Do!”

If you’re wondering what your game plan is after high school or college, don’t worry, rush, or settle, says our 20-something writer.

A small business owner with ADHD places a Open sign in her shop window.
A small business owner with ADHD places a Open sign in her shop window.

The famous rappers Wu-Tang once said, “C.R.E.A.M. = Cash Rules Everything Around Me.” In life, money is important, but it is not the end-all. Faith, hope, love, family, reputation, and friendships are more important. But you can’t buy groceries with high fives or pay your rent in hugs.

So you need money. Thus, you need a job. You will probably have several jobs over your lifetime. As a young “special brain” with ADHD, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I tried my hand at several things — writer, metal salesman, actor, surf-shop employee, assistant at a triathlon company. I had various degrees of success in these jobs. There were awesome parts to each job, and there were less-satisfying elements, as well.

Having ADHD, I found it tough to focus on any job if things weren’t stimulating. As a surf-shop employee, I enjoyed talking with people and making friends, but I had to stay focused while counting inventory and be diligent about putting clothing and equipment away. Even though those responsibilities were boring, they didn’t take up much of my day. No matter what you do, some duties will be uninteresting. If you know what bores you, you’re ahead of the game in finding a job that you can excel at.

[Free Resource: 8 Dream Jobs for Adults with ADHD]

What Color Is Your Parachute?

There are two types of job seekers: Those who are sure of what they want to do and are determined to do it, and those who don’t know what they want to do. My younger brother is the first type of person, and I am the second type. My brother wanted to be a firefighter since he was eight years old. He joined a fire cadet program in high school, became an EMT, graduated college, worked as a paramedic, and was recently hired by a fire department in a nearby county. He was never in doubt about what he was going to do. He just had to get himself there. I have a lot of friends who are wired the same way. They work in finance, they are chefs. They had a goal, and they went for it.

I didn’t know what I wanted to do after college. My major was Public Policy. I skipped from occupation to occupation, and found some success at a handful of jobs. One day, though, I had an a-ha moment. I realized that I love to make things. Whether it’s writing a book — I wrote ADHD in HD: Brains Gone Wild! back in 2012 — or inventing special handles that make it easier to steer and navigate a wheelchair, I’m happiest when I create things that will help someone.

A Job, a Paycheck

Because I know what makes me happy, I don’t feel pressured to find the perfect career. I’m doing a job that gives me enough time and money to make things, which rocks my boat and, I hope, will be lucrative. Right now I’m working on my product for wheelchairs. To offset some of my expenses, I help run an after-school program at a nearby elementary school. Am I passionate about taking care of kids? Not all the time. Does my job leave me satisfied and happy? No. I fantasize about working on some project when I’m watching the kids. I go to work knowing that my job will be fun at times and that it gives me the opportunity to make things.

If you know what you want to do, do it. But if you have been unsure about which career to choose, don’t worry. When you have a special brain and are doing something you enjoy, hours fly like minutes. Everyone can find something that makes him feel like he is fulfilling a purpose. Some people are happiest helping out elderly people or working at the blood bank. While I doubt many of us want to deliver pizza for the rest of our lives, we should do what we do well and look for chances to make more and find free time. Now, excuse me. I have a playground full of kids to watch.

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