Brain Health

11 Things I Tell Myself When I Feel Hopeless

‘Adulting’ is hard. Doing it with ADHD sometimes feels impossible. The trick is reminding yourself it’s not. Here are the positive affirmations for success that I use to keep me moving forward despite any setback.

A woman on a motorcycle is giving herself positive affirmations.
Cool lady on a motorcycle with coffee
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I Have ADHD, Hear Me Roar

I've got vision, power, and guts. But hardly anyone sees those traits because they are overshadowed or undermined by my poor decision-making, procrastination, and feelings of utter overload. The productivity skills required for success — in business and in life — are the exact skills I lack. My executive functions are out of whack, so it's not always clear where to start, how to schedule, what needs organizing, and when all these stacks of paper need my attention. ‘Adulting' doesn't come naturally to me, but that doesn't mean I can't achieve my goals. It just takes some strong systems and solid positive affirmations to get me there.

Woman working at a desk, giving herself positive affirmations
Cropped shot of a young woman sitting at a desk talking on a mobile phone
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'I Can Do Whatever I Desire'

I'm ambitious, energetic, creative, and a super-hard worker. When brainstorming or strategizing, my engines are revved up, sparks flying. But then I hit a wall. Looking at the 20 items on my calendar, I get stuck and overwhelmed. I spend hours arranging and then rearranging my tasks. My mind speeds off in so many different directions that I can't see what's right in front of me. My brain is overflowing with great ideas, but I can't choose the ones that move my business forward, and some days I feel like a fraud. On those days, I repeat this mantra that keeps me grounded and prevents an epic tailspin: "You can do what you desire. But only if you get started."

A man wearing sunglasses and giving himself positive affirmations
Man wearing sunglasses lookin’ fly
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'I Believe In Myself'

Passion and desire drive me. But somewhere on the path to completion, my motivation fades. I take off like a rocket, but after a few laps the course gets complicated and I can't figure out how to maneuver through the lanes. Suddenly, I feel as if I'm carrying a bag of bricks. How will I ever finish what I've started? The burden of negative thinking stops me in my tracks. At times like these, I need to reconnect with my original passion and reaffirm that I can achieve my finished product. "This is worth doing, and you are the one to make it happen."

[Free Download: Unraveling the Mysteries of Your ADHD Brain]

A magician doing a trick and reciting positive affirmations
Magician on stage doing a trick with top hat
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'Magic Happens'

To me, every idea is magical. Each one is a seed awaiting a magnificent, creative bloom. But, of course, this is slightly off kilter. And I know that, but I don't have the decision-making skills needed to pick and prioritize the great ideas over those that are just OK. It's tough for me to find the gems that will work, and even harder to find the courage to give them life. At times like these, I have to remind myself that my ADHD brings with it outstanding intuition — I just need to trust it to guide my creative choices. "Don't waste your time second- and third-guessing yourself."

Businesswoman covered in post-it notes and looking stressed without her positive affirmations
businesswoman with too much work to do in office room.
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'Trust the Systems'

Paper and I don't get along. I try to ignore the pieces of paper in my life. I pretend they're not there. When I am forced to contend with them, I stare and wonder: What am I supposed to do with this? Should I put it away? No, if I do I'll waste 30 minutes deciding to trash, save, or file it. And then I'll probably forget where I put it. Should I use an app or scanner? Or will that just devolve into a frustrating run-in with technology? At times like these, I remind myself to trust my processing style. I know what works (and what doesn't) for me. I just need the self-confidence to stick to my systems and keep using the desktop file boxes that get the job done. "What works for everyone else is of no importance."

Older man looking serious and pondering his positive affirmations
Older man in hat against brick wall
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'Time to Regret?'

I've got so much to do; what am I doing on Facebook? One of my ADHD traits is avoiding whatever is difficult. Is Facebook the go-to distraction that allows me to say I'm promoting my business when in reality I'm avoiding bigger responsibilities? Or is it OK to take a break until I'm ready to dig in and do the dirty work? I admit it: I'm time blind. When I enjoy a project, it consumes me. But when a project doesn't jive with my brain wave, I procrastinate like crazy. At these times, I have to be honest with myself, acknowledge the avoidance, and remind myself of the important goals that I should be working toward. "Later today, or later this week, will you regret spending your time this way?"

Happy face drawn in sand, representing positive affirmations
Happy face drawn in sand
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'Good Enough Is Good. Enough!'

This is tough for me to acknowledge: Not everything has to be perfect. Not every decision is going to be the right one, but spending hours agonizing over every decision is simply a waste of time. Too often, I wait for creative visions to arrive, and hope they will open new doors or take my hand and lead me onto the right path. But if I want to be a successful businessperson I can't sit around and wait for visions; I have to accept my choices, stop second-guessing how they will turn out, and come to see that perfection is not always worth waiting for. At these times, I have to remind myself: "Jump off the cliff; you might just grow wings on the way down."

[Free Download: How to Focus (When Your Brain Says ‘No!’)]

A woman with her arms outstretched, reciting positive affirmations
A woman with her arms up against the blue sky
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'Let It Go'

As much as I try to fight it, my brain instinctively ruminates; playing and replaying every decision, comment, and move I make over and over again. This can be a roadblock to my success. Ruminating makes me anxious and interferes with my productivity. When my mind gets stuck, I distract it by physically moving to another location (take my laptop to another room), getting involved in a different task, taking a walk, or meditating for five minutes. I envision a stop sign, and I say to myself: "The longer you carry this, the heavier it feels. Drop it now and you'll soar."

Happy couple exchanging positive affirmations
Happy couple in store smiling
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'Don't Be Stubborn. Ask for Help'

ADHD fools me into believing I'm super-human. I think I can do anything. But I know that no one person can master every task. A successful businessperson knows when to hire people who do what she can't. Simple, yet necessary, administrative tasks are irritating for lots of people with ADHD. David Neeleman, the founder of JetBlue explains it perfectly: "I can manage a fleet of 20 aircraft but I can't pay my light bill." It's worth the time and effort to find a system, app or online program that works for you. The key is in recognizing your ADHD, understanding your individual processing style, and working with customized programs that suit you. "Asking for help is not admitting defeat; it is demonstrating great self-awareness — and saving everyone a lot of trouble."

Happy couple outdoors exchanging positive affirmations
Happy couple outdoors in sunshine
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'There Is More Than One Right Way'

I jump in to situations I know nothing about and figure them out as I work through them. Sometimes, I'm so confident that it's hard for me to admit I can't do everything and accept that it's time to call for advice and support. Knowing when to delegate and allowing control to pass out of your hands — these are two big keys to success, and they're also very tough to accomplish. We possess a vision and become obstinate. We don't trust anyone else to do the job as well as we could. When I feel this way, I remind myself that trust is a requirement in all relationships, and I'm not perfect either. "If ever you'd like others to take a chance on you and give you the opportunity to stretch yourself, then you've got to extend that same opportunity to others."

Man drinking coffee and reading positive affirmations on his laptop
Man drinking coffee and looking at laptop
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'Take the Time You Need'

ADHD can mess with your mind if you let it. It will trick you into thinking you CAN'T because there were times when you DIDN'T. A successful entrepreneur only uses the past to gain wisdom, not to wallow in doubt. Yes, you might have to check an email 5 times before you hit send, but that's not any reason to shirk away from drafting it in the first place. The inability to focus causes insecurity. Use other people's eyes — or a spellcheck program — when you cannot focus. I often remind myself, "Speed only correlates with success in NASCAR races and marathons. In real life, smart thinking is worth waiting for."

Girl looking out over bay and thinking positive affirmations
Girl sitting looking out over water
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'Quitting Is Not an Option'

Projects don't always go as well I want them to. People don't react the way I expect them to. And on the days when I can't concentrate because my emotions are too intense, I have to know how to pause and take time to readjust myself. I know that if I'm not taking care of myself (emotionally and physically), my ADHD will try to convince me to quit. But I also know I don't have to listen to it. At these times, I tell myself: "It would be easy to see life in black and white. Success comes with finding the grey."

[Free Download: 11 ADHD Coping Mechanisms]