ADD Successful Goal Setting

As the new year starts, many people make promises to themselves regarding better physical or financial health, learning a new skill, or how they conduct themselves in the world. Although these goals are heart-felt, unfortunately most research shows that New Year’s Resolutions are often abandoned by the end of January whether or not ADD/ADHD characteristics are part of the picture. It’s not that we don’t want these things – and it’s not because we lack willpower. We often give up on our goals because we haven’t set ourselves up for success.

How many times have you caught yourself making a promise to yourself or to someone else, saying “this time it’s going to be different” without really changing the way you approach the goal? It doesn’t make sense to do the same things over and over and expect different results. There is an alternative.

As an example, I would love to play the piano much better. It would be so gratifying to sit at the piano, look at complicated music, and just have my fingers play music effortlessly. But…it’s a huge goal and I can’t just “magically wish” it to happen.

As I set myself up for success for this goal, I need to consider what has worked (or kind of worked) for similar goals, as well as what has not worked at all. I need to be honest with myself. In order to set myself up for success, I also need to think about:

  • WHAT exactly I want to accomplish
  • WHY this goal is important to me
  • WHEN I want to do the things I set out to do … and
  • HOW I want to plan for success

It’s a combination of “SMART” goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) and knowledge of oneself and how to leverage our interest and motivation.

For my piano skills goal, I want to be able to play songs in an Adult Intermediate piano book with ease and have memorized six pieces by the end of the year. I want to do this to push myself a bit, and have fun perfecting a skill that gives me joy.

I know that when I make too big of a goal, I can get frustrated. I know that I cannot work on too many goals at once, as that can get overwhelming. I also know that I work best with flexible structure.

I want to start this week, keeping track of the time I practice and log a minimum of 1 ½ hours/week. That’s a little over 15 minutes a day, which is do-able. I am going to try to do my piano practice in the morning, but on busy mornings, I would like to sit at the piano at the end of the day. My reward (and inspiration) will be listening to piano music via a streaming service.

I will share this goal with my family so I can have some accountability and although I don’t like the idea of playing for an audience, maybe I can record my playing so they can listen to it without the pressure of performance. Additionally, my intention is to give myself permission to be human, knowing that there will be some weeks that I will not meet my goal. After those weeks, I will revisit my plan and adjust accordingly.

So what goals do you want to work toward? What would make your life easier or more rewarding? What would make a big difference?

As you move toward your goals, the assistance of an ADHD / Executive Function coach may help you determine the strategies and habits that will provide more success, fulfillment and balance in your life. Contact me for an initial consultation and we can talk about how ADHD coaching can help you successfully achieve your goals with ADHD.

Parenting by the Seat of Our Pants

Parenting is simultaneously the most rewarding, and the hardest, job we can have. Just when we think we have everything under control, our kids’ needs change – or our circumstances change – and we are back to “What in the heck do I do now?!?”

When you parent a child who has ADHD or associated challenges, you have more questions…and more rewards. When things go well, it’s a victory that other parents may take for granted.

When our little one begins a short book despite reading problems, figures out a way to calm herself down, or follows a request for the first time without push back, it’s a triumph for the whole family.

When our teen takes out the trash without a reminder, starts homework independently, or organizes a sleepover on a long weekend, we know that they are making real progress.

When our young adult makes a budget, gets ready to graduate, or prepares for a job interview, we know we are doing our job and we can all celebrate.

But when things don’t go as planned, when school is difficult, when our kids don’t know how to make or keep friends, when there are homework wars, when there’s worry about a young adult who isn’t prepared for the next steps of independence, it’s something that can make parents feel like they’re alone without a place to turn. And we blame ourselves.

It’s a privilege to be in the position of supporting the growth of a child. It’s really miraculous how our kids grow and change. But there can be a problem when we expect near-perfection in our parenting. We have in our mind’s eye how we want to parent and then something unexpected occurs and the only thing we can do is to make the best decision we can at the time.

That’s why I’ve joked over the years that I was going to write a blog called “Parenting by the Seat of My Pants.” No matter our education, or background, we are all just doing the best we can with the information we have at the moment.  

Clearly, we all want to be great parents. Our kids deserve the very best. But, as parents, we need to give ourselves permission to be human…and give ourselves permission to occasionally parent by the seat of our pants.

Coaching can help. Contact me if I can be a resource.

 

 

 

 

Making The Most of Summer with ADHD

The prospect of a relaxing summer, unencumbered by the stress of school, is highly anticipated by both students and their parents. Students with ADHD deserve time to relax, hike, bike, swim, wiggle their toes in the sand, and otherwise enjoy the summer months. Parents of students with ADHD also deserve a break from the role of being a “homework cop.”

Despite the difficulty for both students and their families to keep up with the many demands of a busy schedule during the academic year, school does provide the structure that is helpful to students with ADHD. A lack of structure and routine can be trying for someone with executive function and self-regulation challenges.

So how do we, as parents, provide the right amount of structure during the summer months so that our students can have much-needed “down time” without overdoing it? What is the right amount of structure anyway?

For each student the ideal mix of activities is going to be different, of course, but parents of students with ADHD might aim for:

  • Some learning – either through a summer class, information-oriented camp, tutoring, self-study or daily academic time to keep skills up and avoid summer learning loss
  • Some exercise – either through organized sports, camps, lessons, shared exercise opportunities with family, or free play
  • Some routine – for sleeping, eating, chores, and self-care
  • Some socialization – with family, established friends, and friends-to-be
  • Some exploration of interests and passions, which can include limited screen time via smart phones, internet, videogames, or TV
  • Some relaxation, allowing time for students to look up at the clouds, think, and dream

It might be mentioned, too, that summer is often a great time to start ADHD coaching to help students develop the strategies, habits and tools that will allow them to “hit the ground running” once school starts again in the fall.

As the summer begins, you might talk with your family to discuss summer goals in addition to any planned activities, vacations, or classes that are on the schedule. What do they want to learn? What do they want to discover? What would they really like to do to make this summer one to remember?

Whatever summer looks like for your family, when parents and students are in agreement as to the goals and the new routines of summer, the easier and more fun it will be for everyone!

Succeed with ADHD Telesummit

I am thrilled to be a speaker at the Succeed with ADHD Telesummit again this year. The telesummit is a free event where over 20 ADHD professionals and experts will share information and some of their most helpful tips to succeed with ADHD. The speakers will focus on adults and families living with ADHD, though some of the talks may be of interest to students, as well. Check out the details below:

Telesummit 2017

Succeed With ADHD Telesummit”
The week of July 17th – 21st
REGISTER HERE

Click on any of the links to register or get more information about the wonderful speakers, their topics, or the schedule. The telesummit includes talks by Alan Brown (ADD Crusher), Rick Green (TotallyADD), Tara McGillicuddy (ADHD Support Talk Radio), and Dr. Charles Parker (Neuroscience Consultant and Psychiatrist) among others. I will be speaking about ADHD-Friendly Goal Setting on Friday, July 21 at 3pm Pacific / 6pm Eastern.

You can listen by phone or online to each of the 20 calls FREE at the scheduled call time and you’ll have access to the replays for 24 hours after each live call.Interested?

Be sure to save your seat at Succeed with ADHD Telesummit. And if I can be of assistance to help you or a loved one succeed more easily with ADHD, I would love to hear from you.

 

Adjusting Your Aim

Michael Jordan said, I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Michael didn’t give up in the face of failure. He paid attention to what worked and what didn’t work, adjusted his aim and didn’t let the missed shots keep him from trying again.

We need to do the same.

Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck found through research that one’s mindset makes all the difference. With what Dweck calls a “fixed mindset,” people believe that their intelligence and abilities are pretty much carved in stone, unable to be developed. If Michael Jordan had felt that way, he might have stopped trying after the first missed shots.

It takes a leap of faith to keep moving toward one’s goals in the face of failure, especially when one has ADHD. But we can learn to develop what Dweck calls a “growth mindset,” the belief that we can build on our inborn intelligence and talents through dedication and effort. This mindset can help us learn from our mistakes, more easily move toward our goals, and continue to grow and change throughout our lives.

Missteps are part of life whether you have ADHD or not. But it seems that those with ADHD feel each misstep that much more. Instead of beating ourselves up for things not going as they might, we can look at what happened and ask, “What did I learn from this?” It helps to anticipate what might get in the way of our goals as we readjust our plans. And then we can take the next shot with confidence that it will work…or that we can adjust our aim again to get closer to our goal.

Give us a call. We would be delighted to talk with you about how ADHD coaching might help you adjust your aim and move toward your goals with ease.

Wacky Ways to Succeed with ADHD

Sarah and I are very happy to be contributing authors to the ADHD Awareness Book Project’s Wacky Ways to Succeed with ADHD, joining other ADHD coaches and experts from around the world in sharing strategies, stories and tips to help people live well with ADHD.

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What I love about the idea of the book is the permission to find your own way to circumvent challenges, however “wacky” they might seem to someone else.  It’s an invitation to experiment, play with possibility, and use the creative, out-of-the-box thinking that is so common to people with ADHD.

HONOR YOUR UNIQUENESS

Every person with ADHD has a unique combination of strengths, values, interests, and challenges.  As people pinpoint what is getting in their way, they are one step closer to crafting personalized strategies that can help them work around things that do not come as easily for them.  We learn from what didn’t work and we build on what has worked in the past, tweaking as necessary until we find something that allows our strengths to shine!  And if the strategies stop working after a while, we figure out new ways to work more effectively, focus more easily, and keep starting on projects until they get done.

One person might go to sleep in their workout clothes so that they are much more likely to exercise when they wake up.  Someone else might program the coffee maker to brew at a certain time so they can gently awaken to the smell of coffee ready to be poured.

FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU

We can get stuck in the shoulds, thinking “I shouldn’t have to do X, I should do Y.”  But just because someone else does something a certain way doesn’t mean that we have to use the same strategy.  We need to find out own, albeit wacky, ways that work for us.

So experiment a little!  Be creative!  Find your own “wacky” but effective-for-you ways that help you live and flourish with ADHD!

And if we can help you devise personalized strategies that work with your ADHD, feel free to contact us at Info@FocusForEffectiveness.com.

A Great Start for the School Year

The beginning of the school year is a great time to start fresh, appreciating what went well last year and figuring out ways to circumvent challenge areas.  Below are some tips that might help set your child and family up for success this new school year.

  • Adjust bedtimes and wake up times progressively earlier each day so your kids are accustomed to the school schedule and are well rested on the first important days.
  • If your child is attending a new school, you might visit the school and get a “lay of the land” – the location of classroom(s), lockers, gym, bathrooms, and how s/he might need to move from one class to another.
  • Review medication, if applicable.
  • Even if your child has a 504 or IEP, prepare a short letter introducing your child to the teacher, sharing strengths and interests, areas of ADHD or related challenges, what has worked in the past, agreed-upon accommodations and modifications, your contact information and willingness to be a partner in your child’s education. If the 504 or IEP document needs to be changed to reflect your child’s current needs, request a 504 or IEP review meeting.
  • Go to an office supply store with your child and purchase organization systems and supplies that have worked in the past – or that your child is interested in trying. (Such supplies might include a month-at-a-glance wall calendar, a magnetic white board for reminders, two-pocket notebook dividers for a place to put completed homework and things to file, etc.)
  • Talk with your child about what worked last year; attention to what went well (and why) is the first step to being able to repeat the actions that brought success.
  • Approach this new school year as a “fresh start” to address challenge areas. Explore what your child may want to do differently in class, on the playground, getting out the door in the morning, homework and study habits, etc. and help them come up with strategies they would like to try.
  • Come up with some family strategies/routines that will serve everyone…a set time to wake up and a routine for the morning; time in the evening to make the lunch, pack the backpack, and lay out clothes to be worn; a checklist and/or launching pad by the door for things that your child needs to take to school; exercise before starting to do homework or studying, an understanding about internet/music/phone use during homework time; and “incentives” to abide by the new routines.

If we can help you set your child or teen up for school success, contact us at info@FocusForEffectiveness.com.

Here’s to a great school year – for your whole family!

Finding the Time for Coaching

Joe was stuck. He was overwhelmed. He was worried about keeping his job. And he was tired. He worked hard all day, barely taking time for lunch at his desk, and got to the end of the day with only a fraction of his work completed. He thought he had a handle on his ADHD with the structures he tried to put into place, but he felt like he was fighting a losing battle. The creative solutions that he devised only worked for a little while and then he was back to the consistent inconsistency that frustrated him so much. The backlog of work increased as his confidence plummeted.

Someone suggested working with an ADHD coach to help him with the difficulties he had with time management, procrastination of boring tasks, general organization, and staying focused, but he would always say, “But I don’t have time for ADHD Coaching!”

It’s not uncommon that someone might feel they would like the assistance from an ADHD coach, but can’t imagine being able to find the time for it. They are always running to catch up, working really hard, doing their best, and trying not to give up. It seems that although coaching might help, there’s just no time.

However, ADHD coaching is often most useful precisely when you feel you can’t possibly add one more thing to the day’s TO DO list. Why? Coaching can help you prioritize the things you want to do and figure out when, where and how you want to accomplish your goals. It can help you determine the next steps to take so you can move forward. Coaching allows you to identify your intentions or how you might want to handle a specific situation. It helps you to figure out the specific-to-you strategies that utilize your strengths to bypass those things that typically trip you up. Coaching, in other words, allows you to be more efficient, more effective and less overwhelmed because what had seemed insurmountable now feels doable. And who doesn’t have time for that?

Those who participate in coaching say the time spent in the coaching session saves them valuable time because they are not frozen with indecision, or reinventing the proverbial wheel, or keeping busy while not accomplishing what they need to. They say coaching allows them to see possibility – not only the barriers. They say coaching allows them to be more efficient and more effective. Instead of feeling overwhelmed or frozen, those who engage in ADHD coaching leave the coaching session with a plan for effectiveness and the coach’s support to realize that plan, moving forward toward a balance of efficient work and well-deserved play.

Coaching is a gift you give yourself to help you flourish with ADHD. We are here to help.

Note: this post appeared as a guest blog for Laurie Dupar’s Coaching For ADHD website.

 

Lead With Your Strengths

You build a life on your talents and strengths – what is good and right about you – not on your weaknesses, however skillfully they might be corrected. – Dr. Edward Hallowell, Delivered From Distraction

Can you name your personal strengths? When asked that question, most people stumble for an answer. A 2001 study in the U.K found that only about 1/3 of the people can identify their own strengthsWe can safely assume that the numbers are greatly reduced for people with ADHD.

It’s frustrating to have one’s ADHD weaknesses and challenges come to mind much more easily than one’s strengths and gifts. It’s no wonder, really, as ADHD challenges seem to be ever present, somehow overshadowing the strengths that we bring to the world.

Advantages of Using Strengths

Despite people’s perhaps natural tendency to orient toward weaknesses, we know through research that people who use their strengths are happier, more confident, have higher levels of self-esteem, have more energy and vitality, experience less stress, are more resilient, are more likely to achieve their goals, perform better – and are more engaged – at work, as well as being more effective at developing themselves and growing as individuals. (A. Linley, J. Willars and R. Biswas-Diener, The Strengths Book)

It Starts With Awareness

To a certain extent, focusing on the negative is a survival technique ~ we need to be aware of the lion that is about to pounce. However, after a lifetime of frequent frustration and challenges, focusing on the negative can become a habit. Fortunately, we can change habits that don’t serve us….and it starts with awareness.

Identify Your Strengths

So how do you move forward?  The first step is to identify your strengths; you can do so by taking the free 15-minute VIA Survey. There’s an adult survey and one for youth ages 10-17. Taking the survey will move you toward recognizing, appreciating and remembering your strengths so you can build on them for more and more success.

If we can be of assistance as you identify and use your strengths in new and different ways, contact us at info@FocusForEffectiveness.com.

Scheduling Yourself for Success in College

Here’s sneak peek at a tip that Roxanne Fouché contributed to the upcoming book, Inspirational Ways to Succeed with ADHD:

Ratemyprofessors.com and similar websites are popular because they help college students get a sense of prospective classes and professors.  In addition to choosing professors whose teaching style seems to match your particular learning style, you might also pay attention to when the classes take place.  Consider the following:

  • Do you do your best thinking in the morning, afternoon or evening?
  • Do you need time between classes to relax, study or perhaps finish up last-minute assignments?
  • Do you need to exercise before class to prime your brain for learning?
  • Do you need time to eat something nutritious between classes?

Schedule your classes according to what you know will help you succeed.  Recognizing what you need to thrive in college is the first step – the next step, of course, is doing what you can to make sure that your needs are met.

If we can be of assistance in helping you succeed in college, contact us at info@focusforeffectiveness.com. We’d be delighted to talk with you about how ADHD coaching might help you thrive!