Dear ADHD adult or teen: Is a recent success/victory overshadowed by some minor “failure” that happened this morning? Is your most recent faux pas still ringing in your ears – a missed deadline, a forgotten appointment? Fact is, we ADDers are masters at acknowledging and remembering past failures, but terrible at acknowledging and remembering successes. Itsa-no-good!
It’s funny/sad that for ADDers, failures seem to have double or triple weight. You could succeed three times and fail once, and still, that one failure would weigh in your mind more than the three successes. It’s detrimental…and, um, ridiculous.
We Gotta Put Failures in Healthier Perspective…
ADDer life can feel like a continuous stream of losing this, forgetting that, being late. But what ARE these “failures”? Well…
- They’re NOT a character flaw
- They’re NOT moral failings, and…
- They will NOT be erased or avoided in future by ANY amount of self-punishment.
In fact, most ‘failures’ don’t exist the moment after they happen – except in our mind, so we carry them around like an ID card.
ADHD Adult “Failures” Arise from Our Neuropsychiatric Condition
They’re the result of our differently wired brain trying to operate in an intensely paced, left-brained world. That’s not failure – that’s just a mismatch. See that for what it is and work with it. You can’t eliminate failures or completely erase your weaknesses. But you CAN manage them, and even be positively motivated by them.
For the ADHD Adult or Teen, Success Breeds Success
That is, IF we ADHD adults give ourselves credit for successes. A forgotten success has no motivating power. But, make a habit of celebrating successes is like a natural ADHD remedy — you trigger a cascade of positives that re-fill your motivational fuel tank, build up confidence, reinforce your good habits and weaken bad ones, and keep you positive when inevitable setbacks arise.
But what IS a success? A success is not just the COMPLETION of a difficult task. It is any measure of effort TOWARD that completion. Getting started on a task and slamming 20 minutes on it, then running out of gas and moving on to something else is NOT a failure. That is a success. As is every additional INCH toward completion. So celebrate every effort no matter how small.
Making progress doesn’t always mean COMPLETING an important job or task. We can ALWAYS be moving something FORWARD. Even if that forward is an inch…credit yourself for reaching Successville. The most impactful way to take credit for successes and be positively motivated by setbacks is to record them – to keep SCORE.
An Action Step to Do Just That…
Make a postcard-size scorecard with 7 columns for the days of 1 week. List down the left side good and bad habits you’ll track (eg, screensucking or ADD-inducing junk food…positives like cardio, or when you pushed aside fear to attack a task). Keep it with you and note -1 for setbacks and +1 for positives – then add ’em up & see if you can create a positive trend!
Score those successes!!
Alan P. Brown, an internationally recognized Productivity Coach, TEDx Speaker and #1 Best Selling Author of Zen and the Art of Productivity: 27 Easy Ways to Have More Time, Earn More Money and Live Happier is the host of Crusher™TV, where he and his Guest Experts share simple ways to accomplish more in less time with less drama. Follow Alan on Twitter and on Facebook.