INTENT & ADHD – Part 1 of 3

Shaping intent (including goals), is a critical function for humans. It affords us the ability to select a future outcome from a range of possible outcomes, and then work towards and maintain focus on them. Within this process, we repeatedly challenge and reward ourselves while maintaining a sense of direction from our own unique values.  This internal compass also assists in resisting the buffeting of external triggers or influences that may try to shape or effect our intent for us. intent

A recurring issue I see presenting in my coaching practice is one related to creating and maintaining Intent. To the extent that this issue appears to be one of the more consistent and impactful challenges for people with ADHD.

It is important to note that this doesn’t imply that people with ADHD cannot form and maintain meaningful intentions, rather that they don’t happen as consistently as they should. More often it presents as a poorly practiced creation and maintenance of intent that translates to not achieving potential. This can also include moving to a reactive approach to life, having their intent shaped by others either through direct suggestion or as a result of being triggered by external influences.

This experience appears to be consistent with the described executive function challenges with particular reference to attention management (including self monitoring), working memory challenges with time and information retrieval and organisation, and motivation management via emotional regulation. In keeping with a neurodevelopmental disorder, it is possible that the inconsistent performance of the executive function creates limited opportunity to establish a resilient internal intent process.

To look at the components of INTENT, it is useful to consider three aspects; creating well defined intent; establishing the criteria that can measure success; and the task approach that meets the intent while balancing the need for reward. I will discuss these three aspects over the following post in this series of three posts starting with creating well defined INTENT.