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3 Super-Simple Ways to Power Up Your Brain

Everyone describes their teen or adult ADHD differently…

I describe mine to non-ADDers this way: “Ya know how you feel those last five minutes of the workday or your study session, where things are getting foggy and you’re just wiped out and getting declining mental returns? Well, that’s how it feels to me pretty much from the get-go, every day.”

However your ADHD feels to you, we are indeed at a distinct disadvantage in the workplace, the household and at school not only due to our impulsiveness and distractibility: a big culprit is the quick onset of the feeling of mental fatigue.

BUT…There are ways power up your brain before taking on weighty mental engagements — and even have more mental stamina overall…

…to feel less like this….

Traffic lights

 

 

 

 

 

…and more like this…

Strip of highway stretching towards horizon under clear blue sky.

First, Cut the Crap

No special tricks here. Just the simple fact that sugar, carbs and toxins to the ADDer are like a ball and chain to a sprinter.

Sugar and simple carbs are like crack for us – a quick burst of mental energy, then *pift*…big crash. With the only rescue being another dose of sugar or potato chips.

So cut this crap out! Watch for sugar in your snacks, check all ingredient labels for high sugar or carb counts, and switch from white to brown foods – brown rice, dark bread, yams instead of white potatoes, etc.

Next is an incredibly simple trick for powering your mind. I call it…

Venue Change

When your mind becomes worn from study or a tough task, get up and go somewhere else. To another room. To another chair at the same desk or in the same room. To your porch. To a coffee shop.

The movement gets blood and oxygen to your brain…and the brief break rests your brain muscles – plus, the new environment gives you a psychological fresh start.

Yes, you’ve run the clock a bit by the time you’re back to working, but you can get gads more mileage from your brain’s fuel tank with this simple trick.

The next trick is to…

“Shut-Up-A-You-Mind”

Not all of us are physically hyperactive, but we’re all mentally hyperactive. Our wheels are constantly spinning—worrying, over-analyzing, daydreaming. Which only contributes to what’s been called, “the constant state of ADHD overwhelm.”

Indeed, worry and frustration are as fatiguing as work itself. And our inner dialogue burns precious mental fuel mostly on two things: worries about the past, and worries about the future.

99-Problems-Stressing-ADHD

So how DO we quiet our minds?

First, just be AWARE of the CONTENT that’s whizzing around in your brain.  If you actually listen to your seemingly involuntary inner dialogue — you’ll see the quantity of worry and its focus outside the present.

And here’s the funny thing about our internal dialogue: it’s NOT totally involuntary – we CAN control it, if we choose to.

And the funny thing about the past? IT’S GONE. No amount of stressing will change it. Unless we’re formulating how to avoid repeating a past mistake, we are wasting time and energy.

And ditto for the future: IT’S NOT PREDICTABLE. We stress over what’s “gonna happen” tomorrow in the parent/teacher conference or final exam, as we imagine the bad things and feelings to come. But unless we’re strategizing a SOLUTION to a foreseeable problem, we’re wasting time and energy.

SO…When you catch yourself cranking out worry and anticipation when instead you should be cranking out a report or helping the kids with their homework…Shut-Up-A-You-Mind!

…by doing nothing more than closing our eyes and quieting the inner dialogue for even a few minutes – then re-engaging your tough tasks.

When you’re able to get the crap out of your diet, make a simple change of venue or just quiet your thoughts for a few, you are calmer and less irritable – and your precious mental fuel will last a LOT longer.

Peace Be With You!

-Alan

P.S.  If you haven’t yet heard of www.CrusherTV.com, I hope you’ll check it out. Each Monday night at 10pm we “air” another episode chock full of useful productivity tips and “brain hacks”, and our Guest Experts provide more great ideas. Tons of other benefits for members, including free group coaching sessions. Hope to “see” you there! ab

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Celebrate Your ADHD Life

“Your ADHD life is to be celebrated, not lamented. You should feel free to laugh at your silly self, but never to have disdain for yourself. And if your parent or sibling or spouse is an ADDer, look to the things in their ADHD life you can both celebrate.”  – Alan

As my brother delivered my father’s eulogy a few years ago, highlighting some of the many charms of a man who led a long and full life, I began to hear a celebration of an ADHD life. Yep, he’s where I got my ADHD from, though it took me a while to figure that out.

But back to the eulogy…

powered_by_adhd_trucker_hatMy brother of course spoke only of the good stuff. And that is as it should be. On balance, a great guy and a great life.

But each of my father’s charms came with a troubling anti-matter counterpart. So much so that in his last decades those foibles became areas of friction for me – smoking, drinking, clutter, finances.

So as my brother spoke, I heard both sides, but was of course reminded that the good stuff is what really matters — especially in our autumn years.

And so with all due love and respect to the memory of my dad, I share a few of the both-sides-of-the-coins here with you. See how many of these pairings — ADHD positives and negatives — you can identify with (or identify in a loved one)…

 

Youthful…and…Childish

Even at his passing at 86, most of his friends – and he had lots – were a generation or more younger than him. Right down to the last, he was fun, silly…and in many ways frustratingly immature – all-night poker games, reluctance to deal with serious issues.

 

Generous…and…Broke

He wouldn’t let you pick up a dinner check or a bar tab. And thanks to the impulsiveness of ADHD plus the disorganization and lack of financial planning, he was a financial mess.

 

Funny as Hell…and…Offensive as Hell

Great sense of humor, which he maintained right up to the end. The last conversation we had – the day before he passed – ended with a big laugh. But with that ADHD impulsiveness at play, there were plenty of awkward moments thanks to waaaay-off-color jokes.

 

Risk Taker…and…Mistake Maker

He made some bold moves that moved his newscasting career forward swiftly, reaching the top echelon of the business in little more than 10 years. Later, he made a bold blunder by selling his house to buy a tavern, which cost him his job and wedded him even more to his self-medication…the bottle.

Funny Guy…and…Troublemaker: Only recently found this film from 1941 – guess which kid is my dad. And watch for his dad’s kick in the pants.

 

As it should be, the things he’s remembered for are all the good ones. And so it will be with you and me. Don’t worry.

Only thing you should worry about is whether you’re celebrating your positive ADHD life (while you work to improve it) rather than lamenting and brooding over it (which makes things worse).

And again, if your parent or sibling or spouse is an ADDer, make sure you take the time to savor the things in their ADHD life you can both celebrate.

-Alan

P.S. If you haven’t yet heard of www.CrusherTV.com, I hope you’ll check it out. It’s an exclusive members-only library of over 100 videos teaching hacks and strategies that “unleash the power of your unique brain” to beat procrastination, get prioritized and take control of your time.. Tons of other benefits for members, including free group coaching sessions. Hope to “see” you there! ab

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One Weird Trick to Stop Procrastinating

This Simple Brain Hack Frees You to Stop Procrastinating and Get Stuff DONE.

 

You’ve seen those online ads: “One weird trick to lose 20lbs!” “Try this weird trick for 6-pack abs!”

Total BS, no doubt.

But there is a no-doubt, no-BS trick for busting out of procrastination prison. And it works for even the most intimidating, nightmarish tasks on your to-do list.

In fact, it works especially for such tasks.

You know the ones…

The super-complex projects…

The cluster-funks involving multiple people and multiple moving parts on multiple timelines…

The “I-soooooo-don’t-want-to-dooooo-this” assignments…

By the way, this sense of dread in the face of many of our to-do’s is a big reason why our long to-do lists stay so damn long. Because our natural reaction is avoidance of the task (aka, procrastination), often in the irrational hope that it might somehow just go away, or that you’ll find some magic bullet idea that will result in its swift elimination through a sweeping act of ADHD-inspired genius.

Ya, that happens a lot. Not. Ever.

 

Anyway, if you can at all relate to this frustration, then you’ll want to let your mind munch on the disarmingly simple brain hack I’m about to share.

What I mean by disarmingly simple is that it mainly involves little more than the act of giving yourself permission. To fail in a small way. To be slightly imperfect. If you can just do that, this hack will work wonders for you.

To get us started though, I need to paraphrase Dr. Neil Fiore from his book The Now Habit. In it, he basically says the following…

I-Never-Finish-ADHDNever look at a big project and say, “I have to finish that dang thing”. Because you’ll be less likely to schedule time to do it. The thought of having to finish is the surest way to invoke all the mental and physical chemistry that supports continued procrastination.

The more painful or perceived-to-be painful a given task is, the more we will try to seek relief in avoidance. And the notion of having to finish something is almost always painful or threatening.

Worrying about finishing, he says, is a form of perfectionism. Your failed attempts at finishing when you do take up the task, reinforce your belief that such tasks are…unfinishable! You will then wait for that 11th hour jolt to drag you – kicking and screaming – into the finishing…which will surely yield a less-than-perfect end product.

So…Do not think about finishing. Instead, says Fiore, just schedule time to START.

 

OK, sounds easy enough, right?

Well, not when there’s that sense of overwhelm and dread we get when confronted by tough tasks. Not when we’re unable to fathom WHERE to start on a complex to-do. And not when we’re afraid to begin because we know we’ll just get bogged down soon after starting…or that we’ll do such a lousy job at it that…well, Why bother?!!

Now, the hack that lets you hack through all those forms of paralysis is simply to give yourself permission to start. And you do that by…

Giving yourself permission to NOT finish.

Giving yourself permission to be imperfect.

Giving yourself permission to FAIL (to finish).

And that last one’s key. Drop all expectations of finishing. The only thing you need to do is start, with no demand on yourself other than to give it a few minutes’ effort. [TWEET THIS]

And guess what. Once you’re “in it”, you have a decent chance of seeing how best to get it done…and quite often, before you know it, you’ve been “in it” for 20 minutes!! Or more!!

This is the gift that accrues to us when we just give ourselves permission to START. That is, to fail. To be imperfect. To NOT finish.

Weird, huh? Get weird with me and try it. I bet you’ll find that it works.

Starting-Is-Easy-ADHD

“Keep starting – finishing will take care of itself. If you must worry, worry about starting, never worry about finishing.”     – Dr. Neil Fiore [TWEET THIS]  

You can start many times every day. Always focus on what you can do next. One little step at a time. One start at a time.

Deploy this hack and you’ll find you’re less and less intimidated by big-ugly-hairy-ass to-do’s…and you’ll actually start scratching them off your list. Done. And DONE.

Blessings and Bountiful Crushings,

Alan

P.S. I want to thank all the FANTASTIC people across six European cities that hosted my appearances and workshops this month. And of course, the hundreds of people who turned out to attend. You know who you are – cuz I probably hugged you a few times! Can’t wait to do it again! -AB

P.P.S. Dawdle. Hesitate. Shilly-shally. However you describe your own chronic procrastination…it is yours to crush. -ab

P.P.P.S.  If you haven’t yet heard of www.CrusherTV.com, I hope you’ll check it out. Each Monday night at 10pm we “air” another episode chock full of useful productivity tips and “brain hacks”, and our Guest Experts provide more great ideas. Tons of other benefits for members, including free group coaching sessions. Hope to “see” you there! ab

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PUPPIES!! (A Killer Natural ADD Remedy)

Check these out…

Puppies-Natural-ADD-Remedy-ADHD

You like the puppies, don’t you? I knew you would! And you can thank me now because I just improved your brain function and may have extended your life span.

I sh*t you not.

Fact: Powerfully pleasing imagery can be a killer natural ADD remedy – and a great brain hack for anyone.

In her book Positivity, Barbara Frederickson details research showing that test subjects whose anxiety was driven high by an impending public speech, were able to reverse negative cardio vascular effects in less that a minute by viewing relaxing imagery — a tranquil film clip of ocean waves, a puppy playing, etc.

A separate study at the University of Virginia showed that viewing “very cute images” of puppies and kittens enhanced fine motor skills. Fine freakin’ motor skills?! Yep.

Then, more recently, researchers at Hiroshima University found that subjects who viewed pictures of baby animals as opposed to adult animals or pictures of food, performed better on both dexterity tests and a visual search test.

Is it any wonder that we put pictures of our families, including our pets, around us in the workplace? They are loving, pleasant images. We also tend to surround ourselves with pictures of ourselves doing things we enjoy – whether it’s boating, tailgating, or shooting unsuspecting deer.

In yet another study, self-affirmation – e.g., thinking about one’s values – was shown to encourage abstract thinking, self-control and delayed self-gratification.

It turns out, I’ve been using both of these principles – pleasant images and reiteration of my values — unwittingly for years! On my laptop I have a screensaver combining a rotation of images that make me feel relaxed and content…which I’ve embedded subtly with my mantras for living…

Picture 18

THE FUTURE BELONGS TO THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN THEIR DREAMS – is embedded into the awe-inspiring sculpture of Joe Louis’s arm in downtown Detroit (go see it if you can!).

Picture 4

THERE IS NO PROBLEM HERE (…in the Now – from Eckart Tolle) – quietly placed under the KTM logo. (Ya, that’s me…draggin’ a knee.)

Picture 19

HAPPINESS IS THE WHOLE AIM OF HUMAN EXISTENCE (partial Aristotle quote) – woven into my mom’s collar. (Miss you, Mom!)

These are just three of many. But you get the idea.

Positivity author Fredrickson also recommends we create our own Joy Portfolio – “a physical collection that is a shrine to each shade of positivity”. Like a vision or dream board, but made up of images and objects representing moments of joy. That screensaver I guess is my Joy Portfolio, but maybe I’ll create an “analog” version too.

So, what is the imagery surrounding the place(s) where you do the most working and thinking?

Take advantage of this knowledge by Taking Action: Spend just one hour in the next day or two creating a screensaver…or printing out some super-pleasing images of loved ones or of you being powerfully blissful.

Or just get some pics of PUPPIES!!!

In cuteness,

Alan

P.S. This is one of many brain hacks I teach in my presentation, “Practical Zen Brain Hacks for Productivity”. If I’m ever in your ‘hood at a support group or conference, I hope you’ll come by and say hello. Click here for dates of my upcoming European Tour. Six cities. Maybe I’ll see you in one of them!

P.P.S.  If you haven’t yet heard of www.CrusherTV.com, I hope you’ll check it out. Each Monday night at 10pm we “air” another episode chock full of useful productivity tips and “brain hacks”, and our Guest Experts provide more great ideas. Tons of other benefits for members, including free group coaching sessions. Hope to “see” you there! ab

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European Tour 2015: Workshops and Presentations March 6-18

TEDx-Alan-Brown-ADD Crusher-ADHD

ADD Crusher™ Workshops and Presentations, Europe 2015

My European speaking tour is March 6-18. If you’re in the UK or Netherlands please check out these dates (more dates/cities are being set) in chronological order. For more details on each, follow the links…

Amsterdam, 6 March: ADD Crusher™ Seminar

New-logo_UP-300x174This is a two-hour multi-media, live coaching workshop with lots of interaction and strategy implementation. Created in partnership with Martina Schneider of UP Coaching.

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Utrecht, Netherlands, 7 March: Congress of ADHD Women — ADHDvrouw.nl

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I’m giving two presentations at this unique conference for ADHD women — one, a workshop on general ADHD productivity strategies and the other, the closing keynote speech on “New Approaches to ADHD Solutions”.

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De Bilt, Netherlands, 9 March: Impuls — Powerful Strategies for ADHD Teens and Adults

Impuls_beeldmerkIn partnership with Impuls in De Bilt, I’ll be sharing a range of strategies for ADHD teens and adults — and as with most of my presentations, parents and spouses will also benefit.

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Strijen, Netherlands, 10 March: ADHD Cafe Strijen — Free Workshop with Alan Brown

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Three ADHD organizations are coming together with me to provide a free presentation in an informal atmosphere. If you’re in the Rotterdam area, please join us!

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Surrey, England, 12 March: One Evening, Two ADD Crusher™ Presentations

[Link with details to follow] I’ve partnered with three great support groups in South West London and Surrey to offer a two distinct presentations: “Increased Productivity via ADHD Brain Scaffolding” and “Practical Zen Brian Hacks for Parents”. A great value and a great warm-up to the full-day event on the 14th…

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London, 14 March: ADDISS & ADD Crusher™ present Powerful Ways to Escape the ADHD Overwhelm

LDA_partners_landing_page_16This is the big one. Nearly a full-day affair starting with a four-hour, multi-media live coaching event with tons of great insights, videos, 1-on-1 coaching, action steps and more. Then a complimentary lunch — and last, another presentation on “Practical Zen Brain Hacks”.

…and if you know someone in the UK or Northern Europe, please share this info!! TX! -ab

P.S.  If you haven’t yet heard of www.CrusherTV.com, I hope you’ll check it out. Each Monday night at 10pm we “air” another episode chock full of useful productivity tips and “brain hacks”, and our Guest Experts provide more great ideas. Tons of other benefits for members, including free group coaching sessions. Hope to “see” you there! ab

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Negative Self-Talk: Extreme Edition 2.0!

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about Impostor Syndrome, the “extreme edition” of negative self-talk. Officially, it’s defined as the “psychological phenomenon in which…despite external evidence of their competence, people remain convinced that they are frauds and don’t deserve the success they’ve achieved” – per Wikipedia.

The blog post got quite a response from readers – and I’m not at all surprised. Because we ADHDers subject ourselves to enough toxic levels of self-doubt to set off a Geiger counter.

Just to get you back up to speed, here are some signs that you might be suffering from this ADHD negative-self-talk-on-steroids:

  1. You feel like a fake.
  2. You feel like your success was just luck.
  3. You downplay your successes.

And here are two fabulously successful people reflecting on theirs…

“The exaggerated esteem in which my lifework is held makes me very ill at ease. I feel compelled to think of myself as an involuntary swindler.” –Albert Einstein

“Sometimes I wake up in the morning before going off to a shoot, and I think, I can’t do this.  I’m a fraud.” – Kate Winslett [TWEET THIS]

This blog post is the “2.0” version of the original because here, we’re going to slay this insanity. So whether you are just a dabbler in occasional negative self-talk or a full-blown impostor syndromer, here are five simple steps for getting back to reality…if not self-lovin’…

Take Some #$%&! Credit

Identify where you deserve some credit for whatever success you’ve achieved. Hard work. Getting up every day and giving another go despite what happened yesterday or last week. Coming up with some decent ideas. Find these positives, give them more than a passing thought, and accept them into your heart.

Appreciate-the-Good-Impostor-Syndrome

[TWEET THIS]

Question the Voice

Recognize that the statements you’re making about yourself are coming from the same place as the ridiculous contention that we are “lazy, stupid or crazy.” And as we ADHDers now know, thanks in part to Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo’s fabulous book with this phrase in its title, we are none of those things. We’re just wired differently. With this in mind, look for the absurdities in your negative views.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

This is a biggie. Through all our foibles and mess-ups and embarrassments and resulting insecurities, we have always looked at the person next to us and thought, “Geez, why can’t I be like HER?!” But fact is, nobody knows what the hell they’re doing! And that seemingly flawless “her” is probably as much a bundle of nerves and self-doubts as you are. (Refer to above quote by Einstein…or any of a million other famous/successful people who we think have their sh*t totally together.)

Fake It ‘Til You Make It

There’s buttloads of research telling us that this really works. For instance, you can become happier just by smiling (has to be a big smile, but it’s proven to work). You can increase your self-confidence by posing like Wonder Woman. This is neuroplasticity at work, by the way. (More on that another day.)

Score Your Successes

We must pay more attention to our successes (as described in ADD Crusher™ Video II, Way 9). ADHD teens and adults tend to “filter out” successes in their thoughts and memories – leaving only their ‘failures’ to dwell on. But it’s not enough just to think about our successes: we have to record them by writing them down. Ideally in a journal, but even if just a stickie note. A written success is remembered. An unrecorded and forgotten success may as well never have occurred.

Successful-People-ADHD-Altnernative-ADDCrusherStop dwelling on your foibles. Start scoring your successes!

Bottom line, our ability to push forward powerfully has much to do with how we judge our own past.

You are not a fraud. You’re a miracle and a rockstar. Trust me on this. I’m a miracle and a rockstar because I decided I am — notwithstanding my own tremendous self-doubt and ugly past. And you and I are cut from the very same tribal cloth.

Now, will you stand with me in the spotlight of fabulousness?

-Alan

P.S. – Have you checked out the Crusher Pinterest page yet? Tons of great eye candy on there. Check it out and follow some of our boards!

P.P.S.  If you haven’t yet heard of www.CrusherTV.com, I hope you’ll check it out. Each Monday night at 10pm we “air” another episode chock full of useful productivity tips and “brain hacks”, and our Guest Experts provide more great ideas. Tons of other benefits for members, including free group coaching sessions. Hope to “see” you there! ab

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Resolutions – Don’t Even Bother

Each year, about half of us make New Year’s resolutions. Then, over 90% of them fail.

So how ‘bout this: don’t @#$%! bother.

New-Years-Resolution-ADHD

I have a better suggestion: New Year’s solutions.

Let’s first understand WHY resolutions have such a hellacious failure rate. Here are the biggies…

They’re unrealistic. We too often stab at admirable but longshot goals – work out 7x a week…do a triathlon (never having done a 5K)…become a gazillionaire. Just setting ourselves up for failure.

They lack a powerful underlying motivation. Which is more powerful motivation-wise… Losing 10 pounds to fit into a dress? Or losing 10 pounds to avoid becoming diabetic? Never use vanity or guilt as a goal’s underpinning. They just don’t work as well as the deeper-digging stuff. TWEET THIS

They’re too vague. “Get in shape” vs “Lose five pounds by January 31”. “Get better grades” vs “Get a B+ or better in my dreaded chemistry class.” You get the idea.

There’s no plan of action. We get such satisfaction from writing down our resolutions. Hey! Feels like things are getting better already!! Booop. But goals have meaning only when action has begun. And that requires a plan – which is a New Year’s Day inconvenience (especially if our goal is unrealistic or inauthentic or vague).

So, what if we were to just say, “SCREW New Year’s resolutions!” — and seek instead…New Year’s SOLUTIONS?

What I mean is, setting ourselves up for success by focusing on simplicity over grandiosity, the abundance of blessings instead of the absence of what we desire, and leveraging what makes us happy. This approach uses 5 simple steps to seeing some attainable ADHD solutions for the coming year…

Step 1: Tally Your Victories

Before even contemplating the things in your life that need improvement, get your head around the things that DON’T – or at least the things that you’ve done well this past year. List at least five. (And as you’re thinking about how things went, say, at your job, in which you actually took a pay cut or were passed over for a promotion – don’t dwell on such setbacks. Everyone will have had setbacks and frustrations in the past year. But that is NOT what this exercise is about. Now, write that list!)

Step 2: Gratitude Prayer

Resolutions are prayers for things we don’t now have. Sort of disempowering, ironically, no? Gratitude is empowering. And all you have to do is think about what you’re blessed to have right now.

Now you’re in an abundance mindset. A little different from tallying all your wants, needs and shortcomings to determine your resolutions, yes? OK…

Step 3: Find One Thing You LIKE and Do More of It

As you look back at the last 12 months (or 12 years, for that matter), what are the things you enjoyed most? Ideally, you’ll identify constructive things you did for the first time, or in a new way. Write down 3-5 things. Then pick the ONE you can take action on to have it be a bigger part of your life.

do-more-of-what-makes-you-happy-ADHD

Step 4: Find Something You Despise and Do LESS of It

Cutting out Cherry Garcia® ain’t easy cuz you LOVE IT. But there are things you DON’T like that you’re nonetheless still doing — and can work to reduce. You don’t like being late. You don’t like opening the door to that crazy-messy closet. List 3-5 things you really despise but seem doomed to repeat or tolerate. Then pick ONE to focus on crushing.

Step 5: Make a $@#%! Plan

Make-A-Plan-Kid-ADHDWhy do I say pick just one of each of the above? Cuz another big reason for the resolution fail-athon is listing too many. With just two solutions to pursue, you can find the time and wits to map out how you’ll go about making each happen. (Start by creating a calendar entry to think about or work on each. Do that NOW.)

 

 

Don’t contribute to the resolvers’ 90% fail rate! Work these 5 simple steps starting right NOW and you’ll have a 90% shot at some real solutions.

Abundant blessings to all…

-Alan

Founder of Crusher Solutions, LLC (I kid you not)

P.S. –  If you haven’t yet heard of www.CrusherTV.com, I hope you’ll check it out. Each Monday night at 10pm we “air” another episode chock full of useful productivity tips and “brain hacks”, and our Guest Experts provide more great ideas. Tons of other benefits for members, including free group coaching sessions. Hope to “see” you there! ab

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Avoid These 3 ADHD Holiday Blunders

Ah the holidays – the warmth of family and friends, the spectacle of football on the big TV, wine glasses and silverware clinking as everyone digs into a bountiful meal…all with a deep sense of gratitude for all our blessings.

Ya. Aaaaaand…the quibbling leading to emotional outbursts, out-of-control kids screaming and playing catch with the cat, red wine and gravy spilled liberally, crumbs and nut shells embedded in the carpet. Freakin’ chaos. Gratitude? Thanks for nuthin’!

Santa-Shiner-ADHDThere’s a reason “liquor store” is the #3 search term in Google Maps just before the holidays.

However lovely or looney your holiday gatherings tend to be, ‘tis the season for dysfunction and disarray, especially for our tribe. And in my experience, there are at least three egregious ADHD Holiday Blunders that befall the ADDer who is not vigilant…

The Relative that Baits You into Confrontation

Maybe it’s a cousin or an uncle or a sibling. Seems every time you’re together there’s a conflagration (or Armageddon if booze is deployed) before the end of the night. Politics, religion, your kid’s behavior – whatever. And our volatile emotional wiring makes it all so predictable that you begin to anticipate the encounter on your way to the gathering.

But here’s the deal…

As you anticipate, you sub-consciously start formulating your retorts and assaults in advance, which starts generating the negative sentiments that attach to the offender’s most offending behaviors. The trick is to STOP WRITING THAT SCRIPT, and alter your anticipation of that encounter by identifying something positive about your nemesis. Yes, you can if you try. And then when you arrive let that be what guides the discourse. When you walk in the door in that mental space, you can undercut the otherwise inevitable. Epic Win.

[Bonus Tip from a Seasoned Hostage Negotiator! According to Gary Noesner, author of Stalling for Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator, “Tone is king here: subtle vocal inflections can impart either ‘I disagree, let’s move on,’ or ‘I disagree, let’s turn this into The Jerry Springer Show.’” (From a NYTimes article – seriously.)]

The Impulsive Over-Spend

You want to do the right thing. You want to be considerate. You want to have some fun. You want to reward yourself and your family for a year of hard work – whether with gifts or gourmet gluttony. And so, you invariably blow a small fortune and piss off the spouse and, come April, can’t understand why there’s only enough funds for another Staycation.

But here’s the deal…

We ADDers are 1) always aiming to please and 2) boneheaded wielders of credit cards. Deadly combo. (Um, ya, I had $100,000 in credit card debt at one time. Bonehead.) Yet we do NOT have to shower anybody with anything to show our love (including love for ourselves). In fact, a great way to love yourself is to respect your money. And the best way to show your love to your family and friends is to do some gifting that doesn’t involve the latest gadget or designer purse or soul-less gift card.

The Over-Subscribe

If you’ve signed up to do the whole shebang – hosting everyone at your place, preparing and cooking everything, etc. – you’re a good person. Bless you! Yes, we ADDers want to be the good hosts, or at least the heroic bringers of unseemly joy. And the more we sign up for, the more we’ve signed up for mistakes, misery and missed opportunities to actually BE with our people. Which we perennially remember just as the hordes begin to arrive – “Ruh-roh. I am swamped!”

But here’s the deal…

Reality is, you don’t have to sign up for nothin’, least of all being the Iron Chef for 17 people. Everybody already LOVES YOU (even Cousin Jackass, in his own jackassy way). So just sign up to bring yourself, some genuine silent gratitude prayers and some authentic eye-to-eye Hey-man-great-to-see-you!’s. And/or at least commit to not over-committing.

 

Wishing you lots of holiday dysfunction-crushing!

-Alan

P.S.  If you haven’t yet heard of www.CrusherTV.com, I hope you’ll check it out. Each Monday night at 10pm we “air” another episode chock full of useful productivity tips and “brain hacks”, and our Guest Experts provide more great ideas. Tons of other benefits for members, including free group coaching sessions. Hope to “see” you there! ab

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ADHD Negative Self-Talk: Extreme Edition!

I’m a loser. A failure. A…
Fraud-ADHD

Some of the most brilliant and successful people in the world think they’re a fraud. Some 40% of successful people, by one estimate. Probably higher for our particular tribe – however we measure our success.

Recently read a New York Times story about Amy Cuddy, the Harvard researcher who uncovered the power of Power Poses. Her TED Talk on the subject is now the second most shared in the history of TED Talks – pretty impressive. As is her career: a wonderful story of a comeback from a paralyzing accident and a prognosis that she would never walk again. And yet…even after recovery and fame and success and a book deal…she felt she was a failure.

She suffered from Impostor’s Syndrome – the “psychological phenomenon in which…despite external evidence of their competence, people remain convinced that they are frauds and don’t deserve the success they’ve achieved” – per Wikipedia.

When one of our blog readers asked me to write more about negative self-talk and strategies to battle its debilitating effects, I was looking for the right angle to complement my previous blog on the topic. Amy’s story provided the spark – cuz Impostor’s Syndrome is Negative Self-Talk: Extreme Edition! And everyone in our teen and adult ADHD tribe suffers from some degree of this insanity.

Before delving into some nuts and bolts of this specter, here are two more examples of hugely successful sufferers…

Claude Monet: Changed History of Art…Thought He Sucked

There’s a great quote from Claude Monet that made me think, now this guy was a classic ADDer. Toward the end of his career, he says, “My life has been nothing but a failure, and all that’s left for me to do is to destroy my paintings before I disappear.”

David Neeleman: Changed Airline Industry…Thought He Was a Loser

Dr. Ned Hallowell, a friend of Neeleman’s, tells this story fabulously. In a nutshell, he dramatically altered the efficiency of travel by inventing the e-Ticket and founded three airlines. On the day JetBlue was listed on the New York Stock Exchange, he was driving back home to Boston after ringing the opening bell when Ned called to congratulate him. “How do you feel, David? Great day, huh?” To which Neeleman replied something along the lines of, “I don’t deserve any accolades. In fact, I feel like a failure.”

Now, I realize these two people were/are in fact hugely successful, so you may be thinking, “Fine Alan. Who cares if they thought they were losers? They had their success and accomplishments. I’m busting my butt over here trying to be successful and THAT’S why I’m frustrated, on top of feeling like a fraud!”

OK, ok. But reality is that these people had a few things in common that got them where they are, one of which may very well be ADHD. And here’s what the one confirmed ADDer from above has to say about our tribe’s ADHD gift (and curse):

“In the midst of all the chaos in your mind, and all of the disorganization, and all the trouble getting started, and procrastination, your brain just thinks a little bit differently. And you can come up with things.” – David Neeleman  TWEET THIS

grad-school-impostor

A disproportionate number of academic high-achievers are likely Impostor Syndromers

 

Do You Suffer (Even a Little) from Impostor Syndrome?

There are three categories of this syndrome (which, by the way, is not officially a psychiatric disorder). If you’re like me, you can probably identify with one or more of the following…

  1. You feel like a fake: You don’t deserve whatever success or degree or job title you’ve achieved. And what goes along with not feeling you deserve the status is the worry that you’ll be “found out”.
  2. Your success was just luck: It’s not because you worked hard or made smart choices. You just got lucky. And so you have little confidence you’ll be able to find more success.
  3. You downplay your success: “Ah, it’s no big deal – anybody coulda done it.” And accompanying this is difficulty accepting praise.

A lot of this is classic Negative Self Talk, and we do it every day. But it has emotional and physical costs. So we really have to stop beating ourselves up and start celebrating our successes. And in a sequel to this post, I’ll outline the ways to do just that.

Stay tuned, you incredibly successful, fabulous, destined-to-be-famous Crushers!

-Alan
P.S. – Have you checked the Crusher Facebook page yet? My goodness – there’s all KINDS of good stuff on there. Over 30,000 fans can’t be wrong! C’mon over and Like us – and make sure you select “Follow” or “Get Notifications” – so that you, um, get all our notifications!

P.P.S.  If you haven’t yet heard of www.CrusherTV.com, I hope you’ll check it out. Each Monday night at 10pm we “air” another episode chock full of useful productivity tips and “brain hacks”, and our Guest Experts provide more great ideas. Tons of other benefits for members, including free group coaching sessions. Hope to “see” you there! ab

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Top Tips from New ADHD Awareness Project Book

InspirationalCvr3DwebCropped1As part of ADHD Awareness Month, mega-coach Laurie Dupar has, for the 4th year in a row, compiled from top ADHD experts (yes, including moi) yet another Amazon #1 Best Seller. It’s called Inspirational Ways to Succeed with ADHD, part of the ADHD Awareness Book Project.

My favorite thing about this book series is that it dispenses lots of great tips in ADD-friendly, bite-size bits. And among those bits in the latest book are quite a few that really caught my (mind’s) eye. Can’t fit ‘em all here, but can fit a few of the greatest hits…

Create an Action Board! [pg. 87]

Laurie Dupar has not only put a lot of energy into creating this book project, but has put a lot of her own wisdom into its pages as well. Of the many Tips-de-Dupar to choose from, my favorite is this one.

I’m a big fan of vision boards – as I teach in ADD Crusher Video I/Way 2: Get a Nagging Desire, we ADDers often need emotional stimulation to fire up our motivational rockets. And a vision board loaded with powerful imagery of what we most desire out of life can be a great source of that fuel.

Laurie’s tip is to create a more tactical version — an action board. What makes it more tactical is that you include images of near- and mid-term goals, and also of action steps toward those goals! The upshot is that, “In the process of creating an action board, we spend time considering our goals, finding the right pictures and putting them together [so that] we literally see: ‘This is important’ and ‘This is how to achieve it.’ This clarity and motivation can propel us to action!”

 

How Do I “Get” Me? [pg. 48]

As ADHD coach Judy McNamee says, “…understanding about one’s own brain wiring is a vital link to your child’s acceptance of the challenges of ADHD, and ultimately in the ability to gain or maintain high self-esteem.”

This statement really resonated with me, especially on the heels of Dr. Ned Hallowell’s rousing keynote at the recent ADDA Conference, where he repeated his admonition that we MUST move away from the phraseology of “deficit” and “disorder” if we are to start de-stigmatizing ADHD.

So think about how you talk to your ADHD kids about their condition. Or for that matter, think about how you talk to yourself about your ADHD brain! For instance, Judy suggests using a metaphor such as, “a cell phone trying to juggle too many applications at one time”. Now, comparing my brain to a smartphone sounds a heck of a lot better than “deficit” and “disorder”, no?

 

“We MUST move away from the phraseology of  ‘deficit’ and ‘disorder’ if we are to start de-stigmatizing ADHD.”

Tweet That!

 

Test Myself? You’re Kidding! [pg. 67]

Coach Liz Ahmann, who specializes in helping students succeed with their ADHD, shares a disarmingly simple tip for learning: test yourself. Now, nobody likes quizzes or tests, but if you can make self-quizzing your friend, you’ll be leveraging what research tells us is one of the most effective ways of absorbing new information.

And as I see it, this isn’t just for students – a businessperson could quiz herself before an important meeting or phone call on the key points she needs to make or on the elements of her proposal – ensuring a smooth, confident delivery…a busy mom could do a pop-quiz in advance of a parent-teacher meeting, or on what the key to-do’s are for the week, with similar benefits. So put this one in your Succeed with ADHD toolbox!

 

The (Unsustainable) Adventures of Executive Function Mom [pg. 74]

Diane Dempster, one half of the dynamic duo behind ImpactADHD.com, shares a personal account of thinking she “had it all together” even with three kids all born in the space of 19 months while managing a full-time career – until (you guessed it) her son was diagnosed with inattentive ADHD…and then she lost her job…and then her marriage began to unravel…and then another child diagnosed…and then…Wow.

Her tale will surely resonate with many of you parents. And the short version is that she survived – and even thrived, with a major transition: from trying to be the “Executive Function Mom” for the whole family, to being more “Self-Care Super-Mom”. All with the help of three principles:

  1. A perspective shift toward compassion, which allowed her to view her children’s (and her undiagnosed ADHD hubby’s) behaviors through a healthier lens.
  2. The upending of resentments based on the understanding that, “Expectations are resentments waiting to happen”, i.e., setting expectations for the family high was setting everyone up for failure!
  3. A new focus on herself, beginning with self-compassion and not taking things personally. But also, “actively managing the triggers that put [her] into stress-mode.”

 

Danger-Expectations“Expectations are resentments waiting to happen.”

Tweet That!

I hope you found some resonance in one or more of these. The book really is full of great stuff. If you want to see mine and others’, you’ll have to buy the book! (NOTE: Sales proceeds don’t go to the contributors – but a portion does go to CHADD, ADDA and ACO.)

Happy reading!

-Alan

P.S.: We’ve got some new videos coming to our Crusher YouTube Channel, so if you’re not subscribed yet, please do so you don’t miss them! Lots of great free tips and more to come. -ab

P.P.S.  If you haven’t yet heard of www.CrusherTV.com, I hope you’ll check it out. Each Monday night at 10pm we “air” another episode chock full of useful productivity tips and “brain hacks”, and our Guest Experts provide more great ideas. Tons of other benefits for members, including free group coaching sessions. Hope to “see” you there! ab

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