The Four Letter “F” Word

Living with ADHD or executive function challenges can lead to a lot of frustration. Sometimes, you even feel like saying the dreaded “F” word. You know the one, the one that slips into your mind and makes you feel bad that you’ve thought and then worst of all, more so than saying it, you’re living it. Fail!  It’s the worst “f” word I know.

How can we avoid that word when we are stuck in habits that aren’t serving us? And added to that, amongst a landscape of ADHD, it’s hard to get the mindspace (some may say headspace but I think of it as mindspace) to break away from those habits.

The answer to that is setting realistic goals.  Goals that we can achieve and help us feel like a winner and not a loser. Sounds like simple solution, but then why aren’t we already doing it? The ADHD brain behaves differently regarding messaging and reactions. Impulsive actions and poor working memory are at play in the cycle of history repeating itself and getting stuck in unhelpful cycles of behaviour.

Simple strategies, such as learning to pause, or taking time out to figure out an action plan that will work for oneself are great ways to start implementing significant change. Change works best when it comes from within. What does this mean?  It means figuring it out for yourself, rather being told what to do in a way that is meaningful for someone else.  Coaching isn’t “telling people what to do” but rather uncovering a client’s motivation and strengths and assisting the client work out what is best for them.

This is where there is strength and strategy in coaching.  The ADHD coach is trained in specific techniques to help those with ADHD work on tactical and not psychological issues. By that, I mean, coaching encourages us to look at our learnt behaviours and what has happened in the past, and use that as information. We only have the minute we are in now so, time to use that information and use it logically to move ahead. Coaching with Connect ADHD coaching uses the philosophy of SMART goals to break the task down into logical steps that take into account how our client’s work best, and find out exactly what is getting in the way.

Are your goals SMART?

14989472410_a1aa0d8773_m copyStephen Hawking famously said “My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all”

Goals can mean many things to many people. Goals can be very small or very large, short term or long term. Interestingly, Stephen Hawking stated his goal as being “simple” and yet it regarded the very largest thing that has ever been.  What perhaps made it simple is that he was able to focus on it.

This was from a man who faced many challenges, every minute of every day.

ADHD or Executive function issues often get in the way of us focusing on our plans, which get in the way of us completing tasks and in turn reaching our goals. Sometimes we don’t even get started, let alone finish.

Planning and goal setting gives us structure. It helps us to be organised. It is important for everyone to have structure, but it is crucial for ADHD/EF affected people to have it.

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Forgetfulness, disorganization, (no one really likes to admit to this one) distractions and largely blaming others or external factors are often the main reasons we don’t achieve what we set out to.

This is where good basic planning and goal setting can help. While usually routine for most, it can be an immense barrier for people experiencing ADHD/Executive Function (EF) challenges.  ADHD/EF coaching can provided the scaffolding of this process.

Whether it is studying for an exam, getting the kids out the door in the morning madness or being successful at work, planning and goal setting with Executive Function (EF) in mind can be key to success.

Challenges in EF can reduce or block our success.  Think of executive function as self management or self regulation. For example, when we feel highly stressed combined with feeling disorganized, we can easily feel overwhelmed and believe we are not able to think straight.

When our executive functions are working well, they can look like this:

  • We have good time management
  • We are not easily distracted
  • We have control over our emotions
  • We are organized
  • We are flexible
  • We remember to do tasks
  • We are able to start tasks and finish them
  • We prioritize well
  • We think clearly.

When our EF is not performing consistently, we may come across as:

  • Distractible
  • Emotional
  • Disorganized
  • Inflexible
  • Forgetful
  • Lazy
  • Vague
  • Scatty
  • Having poor judgment

It only takes one of these elements to be a disservice to who you are.

The EF affected person is not broken; they are just experiencing inconsistent levels of EF performance often due to a variety of influences including an underlying condition such as ADHD.

SMART Goals

Heard of SMART Goals?  It is an acronym for a method of breaking down the attributes of something you desire to achieve.

If your goal or task can be broken down to meet these criteria, your plan will be well informed. Motivation and your goals work hand in hand to present the opportunity for you to become the person you want to be.

Specific

Measurable

Achievable

Realistic

Timely

At Connect ADHD we use SMART Goals within the structure of specific goal setting. We connect with the client and their  goals to understand what their goal is, why it is important, what supports are needed, and help the client uncover the resources needed and the steps to take to get it done.

We gain clarity, insight, design strategies, move towards activation and change.

The Coaching relationship also provides the “checking-in” structure to encourage accountability and help meet the client’s goals. While goal setting is a great habit to get into, it is not always enough.

Coaching has the benefit of looking at other factors at play, such as the environment, old habits and learned behaviour and the way we think.  Our coaching model incorporates these factors.  We also work to a process that works towards providing clarity for the client’s perspective, to gain insight into the potential to design strategies with the client’s strengths in mind, to motivate and activate towards real change.