Guest Blogs

New Year’s Bah Humbug

I’m not making resolutions this year – they just don’t work for the ADHD me.

Been there, done that, the whole New Year’s resolution thing and the checklist. Let’s not get started – there are hundreds of checklists from New Years past some written on pretty stationery and now buried someplace among my clutter in the parents’ home.

Don’t get me wrong – I love resolutions as they offer such a sense of promise and permanency. There’s always the excitement of starting something new, the thrill of ideas and possibilities. But this year I abandoned the age-old practice of making a laundry list of them.

At this year’s New Year’s Eve powwow with the sister and family, we did a round-robin of resolutions, going around the room and sharing our New Year’s goal. And to the surprise of the father, the stepmother, and the sister, I didn’t pull out a checklist or rattle off a litany of hopes, goals, and promises. My sole resolution was to eat less and eat more slowly, the resolution inspired by the five pounds I’d packed on since leaving Hong Kong.

“That’s all?” the sister asked, raising her eyebrows. I’m usually gung-ho about resolutions, the first to divulge all of the wonderful things I’ll accomplish in the new year. What I didn’t share was the cynicism that I’d acquired over the past year with my latest birthday: for the ADHD me, resolutions don’t work and probably never will.

I shared this personal truth with the sister who simply shrugged. She’d written an eight-page single-spaced summary of her 2013 milestones – new friends, old friends, places visited, new restaurants she’d dined at, new foods sampled – and her forecasts for 2014. The lists and resolutions were exhausting, I remarked after flipping through her organized report.

“You sound really negative,” she snapped. My sister was right, I was being a negative Nelly, but as someone without ADHD, as someone praised and known for her organization, the sister just didn’t get it – and how could she?

To the ADHD me, resolutions are a reminder of what can’t be accomplished and of over-promising and under-delivering. In truth, on any given day I carry an ever-changing, evolving, and unwritten list of goals and ideas. If written, the list would appear cluttered and scattered, at best colorful and a bit crazy.

On it: Visit the Taj Mahal, learn to ice skate, visit the Easter Islands, surf, try a new cuisine like Ethiopian, read the entire Bible, reconnect with an old friend, get up at 6 AM, go to sleep by 11 PM, learn to make deviled eggs, stop checking the iPod, and quit posting Facebook food photos. (I’m an addict.) The list is in fact very ADHD, probably understandable only by others like myself.

“One resolution is enough. I like to keep things simple now that I’m getting older,” I said to the sister. I sounded convincing enough because she grinned and congratulated me with a toast of bubbly.

“You’re better than before – calmer,” she said ever so slowly, taking in this new me. Most certainly a compliment. Not a bad start to 2014.