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.

 

 

 

 

As You Transition to Something New, Remember What Worked

As we approach transitions, whether it is transition to the new school year, a new job, or a move across country, we can build on our successes by remembering what worked. And then going from there.

School – love it, hate it or just tolerate it, the new school year is upon us.

Whether we are students, parents, other family members, or know someone who is, many of us are ruled by school academic calendars. Many K-12 schools and colleges have already started and others will start soon. So how do we make a smoother transition to another school year?

If we are going back to school or supporting someone who is, there are several questions to ask:

What worked?

Really – think through what worked last year. It’s easy to focus on the things that didn’t work. The should’ves, could’ves and might’ves where we can get stuck and wonder: What’s the use? Why try?

But if we focus on what worked, our mindset shifts and opportunities for success become apparent. Everyone’s wins are different, but it’s important to think about what worked so we can do it again.

As an example, it could be that keeping a calendar of assignments, tests, practices, games, and performances really made a difference…at least for a little while.

If it worked well, keep it up! Do it again. Rinse and repeat.

What could be tweaked?

If something kind of worked, we might look at the obstacles that got in the way and figure out what might be tweaked. For example, maybe you kept a paper calendar, color coded by family member or class, and it just got too much to keep up. What about trying an electronic calendar that can be easily changed as necessary? Maybe you kept an electronic calendar and it worked great … until it didn’t because you found that you weren’t really looking at it. What about figuring out a way to help you remember to check your calendar? That could be a reminder on your phone to check your calendar at certain times of the day or maybe a reward for yourself for doing so. Whatever it takes to make the habit stick more readily.

There is no right or wrong way of doing things. There’s just works for you and your brain.

If ADHD coaching or consulting might be something to add to the mix, contact us. We will be happy to help you set yourself up for success during whatever transition you are approaching.

Is It Menopause, ADHD, or Both?

Roxanne Fouché was honored to be interviewed by Ellen Dolgen, Menopause Awareness expert, for her blog post, “Is It Menopause, ADHD, or Both?”  Below is the post that can also be seen on Ellen’s website at http://ow.ly/n4uHo.  The blog post was also published by Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ellen-sarver-dolgen/brain-fog_b_3605867.html) under the title, “What’s to Blame For Your Brain Fog: Menopause or ADHD?”

IS IT MENOPAUSE, ADHD, OR BOTH? by Ellen Dolgen

Where are my keys? If it’s the umpteenth time you’ve asked that question today, you’re undoubtedly frustrated. Chances are you want to find the cause—and fix it before you go and lose your keys again!

If you are in your 40s, 50s, and beyond, there are a few possibilities worth considering: Of course, there’s perimenopause and menopause, which are both infamous for an inability to focus and memory loss. In fact, a new study from the University of Rochester Medical Center shows that many women experience cognitive changes during menopause. (Watch Ellen on the TODAY Show discussing the study!)

But then there’s also Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and its own unique brand of spacey behavior. Not just for kids, about 4.4 percent of adults in the United States show symptoms of the neurobiological disorder, according to one study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

So which one has got the best of your brain, or is it both? It’s a question women should seriously ask themselves when seeking hormone happiness, according to ADHD coach and consultant Roxanne Fouché, co-founder of the San Diego-based Focus For Effectiveness.

While it’s commonly believed that ADHD is more common in boys than in girls, the truth of the matter is that females are often victims of missed diagnoses during childhood, according to Fouché. “Because girls and women tend to be  less hyperactive and have more inattentive symptoms, women often go undiagnosed until their 30s, 40s, or later when there is a widening gap between life’s demands and the individual’s abilities to focus, organize or complete tasks,” she says.

What’s more, perimenopause and menopause is a critical time for physicians to catch ADHD in their female patients. Why? Estrogen levels decrease during this time, contributing to an increased risk of depression, irritability, sleep problems, anxiety, panic, difficulty concentrating, as well as memory and cognitive dysfunctions, according to Fouché. “Women with ADHD frequently report a worsening of their ADHD symptoms during these low-estrogen states,” she adds.

The first step is determining if your brain fog is new—or simply worse than it was before. “If a woman has only recently begun having difficulty with memory, concentration, and mental fuzziness, it may be related to menopause,” Fouché says. “If, on the other hand, these symptoms have been present since childhood and are getting worse, it is possible that the effects of declining estrogen levels make it that much more difficult for her to cope with undiagnosed ADHD.”

Either way, the solution is simple: seek a clear diagnosis and treatment. If the symptoms are new, visit a perimenopause and menopause expert who can evaluate your mental fuzziness. If they’ve always been around (just not as bad as they are now), The National Resource Center of ADHD advises that you visit a specialist who is familiar with ADHD in adult women. That could be a behavioral neurologist, psychiatrist, or clinical or educational psychologist. While there’s no one “test” to diagnose ADHD, typical evaluations include ADHD symptom checklists, standardized behavior rating scales, a discussion of past and present symptoms of ADHD, as well as information gleaned from family and significant others, according to The National Resource Center of ADHD.

Navigating both perimenopause and menopause? Fouché suggests addressing your variety of symptoms by developing a comprehensive, multi-faceted plan that includes:

  • Use of medications, if deemed appropriate by your physician. Stimulants (including Ritalin and Adderall) balance neurotransmitters in the brain to improve the symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity. Non-stimulant medications such as Strattera and antidepressants may be good options if you can’t take stimulants because of existing heart problems, according to Mayo Clinic.
  • Consultation with a perimenopause and menopause expert. Bio-identical hormone-replacement therapy and lifestyle modifications can ease menopausal symptoms and help you achieve hormone happiness.
  • Focus on self-care. Women often take care of everyone else in their lives before they get to themselves. But by putting yourself first—getting regular exercise and eating a well-balanced diet you can alleviate many symptoms of both ADHD and menopause to get your mojo back.(Check out the best foods for fighting menopausal symptoms.)
  • Professional support and guidance. A licensed psychologist, an organizational expert, a certified ADHD coach—or any combination of the three—can help you sort through the brain clutter. Find an ADHD coach specializing in ADHD  through the ADHD Coaches Organization.

For us women, there’s little in life that’s more frustrating than Swiss cheese brain. We’ve got things to do and people to see, after all! Lucky for our minds, schedule, and keys, help is just around the corner. All you have to do is reach out!

What Went Well – and Why?

Here is a sneak peek at another one of Roxanne Fouché’s contributions to More Ways to Succeed with ADHD: Even More Strategies for 2013 from the World’s Best ADHD Coaches and Experts to Help You Succeed with ADHD:

Many people find it difficult to focus on what is working vs. the things that are not going well.  But it is important to understand and acknowledge our strengths and triumphs because they are the foundation upon which we build success.  Research in positive psychology has shown that it is very helpful to acknowledge what is going right in our lives.  At the end of the day, write down 3 – 5 things that answer the question:  What Went Well – and Why?  Focusing on the “wins” of the day and your part in allowing them to happen helps you repeat those actions for continued success.  The added bonus is that when you know that you are going to be writing what went well (and why), it shifts your focus so that you are actively looking for the positives throughout the day.

How Change REALLY Happens

Here’s a sneak peek at a tip that Roxanne Fouché contributed to the upcoming book, More Ways to Succeed with ADHD: Even More Strategies for 2013 from the World’s Best ADHD Coaches and Experts to Help You Succeed with ADHD:

When we want to make a change in our lives, it’s helpful to plan what we want to do, think about the value of that change, and decide how we want to accomplish our goal.  Adequate preparation for a change includes designing small, doable steps, sharing our intentions with others (so we have an accountability partners), as well as anticipating potential obstacles and how we might want to deal with them.

 

It’s also helpful to know that change is not straight forward, moving seamlessly from contemplation to action.  Rather, studies have shown that backtracking is a common part of the change process, allowing us to learn from the experience and figure out what got in the way.  This learning through trial and error allows us to gain more self-knowledge from the experience, making it that much more likely that the next time we begin, we will succeed.

 

Say Again?

Here’s another one of our tips from the book, 365+1 Ways to Succeed With ADHD: A Whole New Year’s Worth of Valuable Tips and Strategies From the World’s Best ADHD Coaches and Experts:

ADHD can get in the way of someone’s paying attention to, understanding, and/or remembering what someone else is saying.  When kids are small, parents often get their children’s attention before they speak and then ask them to repeat back what was understood.  As we get older, it’s up to us to practice good listening skills with family, friends, teachers and people at work.  We need to let someone else finish speaking before we say something (not an easy task for many of us!).  We can also ask questions to make sure we understand and remember what was said.  This could be as simple as asking for repetition (“I’m sorry, can you repeat that?”), asking clarifying questions (“So is the meeting at 10:00 or 10:30 on Tuesday?”) or confirming your understanding (“Okay, just so we’re on the same page, you want me to have this ready by the 14th.”).

 

When You Say NO, What Are You Saying YES To?

Here’s a sneak peek at one of our tips from the upcoming book, 365+1 Ways to Succeed With ADHD: A Whole New Year’s Worth of Valuable Tips and Strategies From the World’s Best ADHD Coaches and Experts:

There will be a book launch party with extra “goodies” from the contributors for those who buy the book from on October 11, 2012. Stay tuned!

People with ADHD can find themselves saying, “yes” before they have taken the time to consider the consequences. Because time is a finite resource, for every “yes” that we offer, we are naturally saying “no” to something else. “Yes, I’ll be on the committee” means “no” to some family time; “yes” to the project means “no” to a different activity that has more potential or is more interesting. To break the habit of automatically saying “yes,” pause between someone’s request and your response so that you have time to think it through. You might say, “Hmm, interesting idea. I’ll get back to you on that.” Although it’s nice to be agreeable and to be considered a team player, sometimes “no” is the best response. When you say “no,” you are giving yourself the opportunity – and the permission – to say “yes” to something that is more important to you.