What is the purpose of a goal? Goals give us a sense of direction and helps us to focus on what is really important. They can motivate us and lead to personal satisfaction. You may have heard of SMART goals. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measure-able, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. The idea is that if you follow these guidelines to reach your goals, you will be smart!
Let’s take a look at each part:
SPECIFIC means you have a narrow focus and are well defined. You are clear about the what, the when and the how of your task.
MEASURE-ABLE means that you have a way to track progress. What will be the evidence that you are making progress?
ACHIEVABLE means that the task is do-able and not too ambitious. Do you have the tools and resources to accomplish this task in a reasonable time frame?
REALISTIC means that your goal is relevant to you, in keeping with your values and where you want to go.
TIMELY means that you can pace yourself in order to meet the deadline.
Why is setting and reaching goals so difficult when you have ADHD?
People with ADHD struggle with impairments in several areas of executive functioning or brain management system areas. This has an impact on how well we can accomplish certain tasks, such as planning prioritizing, organizing, paying attention, remembering details as well as controlling emotional reactions.
For some, goals can create a sense of stress and pressure. Not succeeding in the past can reinforce a sense of failure.
Let’s look at S.M.A.R.T goals again to see the challenges for Individuals with ADHD:
Specific: It is very difficult to narrow down focus as we have trouble “selecting.” Each task that we see has equal importance, making it difficult to prioritize. Too broad of a focus leads to overwhelm.
Measurable: This speaks to the difficulty many have in being able to break down a task incrementally, estimate a time frame, decide the order you will do it in (sequence) and to pace. The timing circuitry of the brain plays a role here, according to researcher Russell Barkley.
Achievable: We may not know how to approach a task in a way that builds in success. We struggle with planning, not being able to look ahead enough to consider the resources and materials we may need. Because of this we may not reach the goal in time
Realistic: We are not always clear on what task to do or why we want to do it. Make sure the goal is important to you and in keeping with what you value. Sometimes we get pulled into other people’s goals and priorities
Timely: Struggles with time management can cause us to miss the deadline. We have a hard time sustaining focus and being distracted pulls us away from the task at hand. We are not always aware where we lose time so we don’t always meet the deadline, or cross the finish line.
SMART Goals the ADHD way!
Can people with ADHD reach goals? The answer is a resounding YES! What will help? The single tool that supports achieving goals is partnership.
The Power of Partnership: Because we struggle with executive skills, having a person who can act as a buddy double can make a huge difference. That person can help you to break-down the steps to a task so that you actually get started. It is almost as if you have a second brain! A buddy can also help you do a task and help you to pace. Sometimes a person sitting at a table or in a room with you, will actually help you to stay on track. This person can be a family member, a friend, a teacher, or an ADHD coach. Make sure the person you choose is positive and supportive of you.
Partnership works because we have to be intentional in scheduling a time to meet, it sidesteps meltdowns because we understand instead of wonder what we have to do, it helps to motivate, it adds interest to what we have to focus on, it helps us sustain attention and pace, supports us in completing the goal on time, gives gentle accountability and provides social interaction. We know that executive skills are enhanced by positive emotion.
Write it down: Write down what time you will do the task in your daily planner.
Time it: Set a timer when you do the task so that it has a beginning and an end. You will gain a sense of time awareness.
Get it Ready: Have tools and resources in place before you start a task.
Try Mind-mapping: Mind-mapping is a creative way to brainstorm a task, all on one piece of paper. You have a central topic and brainstorm your tasks with what looks like spokes coming out of a wheel. From there you estimate each spoke. Then you go around the map to help you to see what order you want to do the steps. Once the steps are numbered you can create a list of the tasks in order with their time estimates alongside of each. Knowing how long each step takes will help you in scheduling when you will do it. The final step is writing it down in a daily plan.
Approach goals the smart way. With the right supports in place, people with ADHD can be among the most successful!
For partnership in reaching your goals, Contact Cheryl today!
What is Executive Function? 7 Deficits Tied to ADHD- Russell Barkley, Ph.D, ADDitudemag.com
Most of us are feeling a bit battered in this Covid-19 era. Our lives have changed significantly. We may be working from home—or be out of work entirely. Many of us are feeling the weeks of isolation and are anxious for what is to come. Our hearts are with loved ones who are essential workers. Throughout the world, people are grieving lost friends and family members.
It’s easy to see the challenges inherent in the Covid-19 crisis. But have you tried looking for the opportunities? When you’re feeling out of control, sometimes it helps to stop and look for things that you can control. Things that you can improve and make better. Therein lies the opportunity. Simply taking the first step toward making one thing better can be empowering.
As a wise person said: “We are not all in the same boat. We are in same storm with different boats.”
What is one step you could take that will improve the quality of your life today? Coaches call this a single daily action, or an SDA.
This season might be the time when you can start taking better care of yourself. You might begin working on creative projects or learning something new. You might be connecting with family and friends more regularly. You might be renewing or deepening your faith. You might be feeling the need to reach out to a mental health professional to support you through the grieving process.
How can you weather the storm of Covid-19 and emerge stronger than you were before?
Consider the words of author Louisa May Alcott, who said, “I do not fear the storm, for I have learned how to sail my ship.”
Don’t let obstacles keep you from embracing the opportunities. For support in taking the next step forward, contact Joy of Life coaching. Your first session is free!
What is it that we can control in this time of uncertainty? Many of us with ADHD have felt out of control for most of our lives. Suddenly, we find ourselves at home with no set schedule. It is like a weekend that never ends! So, what CAN we control in this out-of-control time?
How about your schedule? At what time will you wake up, eat, and go to sleep? A good place to start is by creating morning and evening routines, even if they happen at different times than usual.
How about your workplace at home? Where will it be and how will you set it up? You might need to work where it is quiet or where there is focused light.
How will you connect intentionally with others, now that you are at home with far less stimulation than normal? Will it be a phone call, a text, or a video chat? You might even write a note and send it snail mail.
How about getting outside? It might be gardening or taking a ride in the car to have a change of scenery—literally! We know that green time is alerting and enhances focus for people with ADHD.
How about moving your body in some way? Many of us were getting WAY more steps in on our Fitbit prior to Covid-19. Remember that the moving brain is the working brain!
How about taking your meds? This is especially important when trying to navigate your day while you or your children are working from home.
How about expressing your gratitude to a health care professional or other essential worker? Everyone could use a boost right now, and a little appreciation can go a long way.
How about your attitude? Victor Frankl, Holocaust survivor and author of the book, Man’s Search for Meaning, says, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. …Everything can be taken from a man but one thing—the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Leave the work-from-home chaos behind. With the hands-on support of a caring coach, you can regain your sense of control. Reserve a session today.
Strategies for success with ADHD when you have to work or study from home
How do you manage ADHD when your life turns upside down? Most of us have worked very hard, putting systems in place that serve us well. Suddenly, we have to rethink everything, no longer able to fly on automatic pilot!
You may be the adult who is now working exclusively from home. You may be a parent who has now taken on the role of a teacher, navigating the challenges of online learning with your children. You may be the student who finds e-learning tedious and boring, especially when you are stuck at home, unable to hang out with your friends.
What do you do when life as you know it changes?
Create Structure: If you no longer have an “imposed structure,” you have to create one. A structure is a boundary that keeps some things in and other things out. Start by developing morning and evening routines, meal times and work times.
Set up a Designated Workspace: Do your work in an area that is conducive to productivity, especially as being at home can make us want to “kick back.” Make sure your environment is friendly to your senses.
Get Dressed: Getting dressed each morning will position you for success, signaling that it is time to begin your day.
Take Breaks: Take frequent breaks between activities, but keep them short. The Pomodoro Method suggests working for 25 minutes and then stopping to do something physical for 5 minutes.
Set a Timer: A timer helps with sustaining attention. It signals the start of one activity and the end of another.
Have an Accountability Partner: Have someone to whom you can report your progress. Make sure that it is a positive person of your choosing.
Maintain Routines: If you have morning and evening routines, maintain them, even if the time frame differs. With routines, you don’t have to overthink your day.
Know your Best Time of Day: Do your most challenging task at a time of day when you feel your best.
Take your Meds: If you are a person who takes meds, make sure that you continue doing so when you work at home, where there are more distractions.
Exercise: Exercise can have an amazing mental and physical impact. John Ratey, a Harvard psychiatrist, states that 20 minutes of aerobic activity equals an hour and a half of a stimulant medication.
Get Out! If you are able to leave the house, you might consider taking a walk or a drive in your car. Many people with ADHD like working in the car as it limits distractions and gets you out into natural light.
Control What You Can: Be informed, but limit exposure to a constant barrage of news that can fuel anxiety.
Manage Self-talk: Instead of “I hate this,” try saying something like: “I am not the only one going through this, how can I make it work?”
Jazz it Up: For many people, especially extroverts, being at home is far less stimulating. What can you add to the task at hand to make it more interesting? It might be music, take out or reruns of a favorite tv show. Remember that interest equals focus.
Connect with Others: Reach out to others virtually or by phone, you might consider scheduling a lunch break with a friend over Skype.
Look for the Positives: The fact that your schedule is freer might allow you to do things you couldn’t do before. You might: Sleep later, have fewer transitions in the day, enjoy the ability to move around as much as you need to, or have a chance to spend more time with family. Though none of us would wish things to be as they are, ask yourself the question: “What is the opportunity in this?”
For support in creating a daily schedule that works click here.
If you’re feeling frustrated this time of isolation, you’re not alone. These techniques have helped me to survive more than 10 years of working from home, and I still feel a little cooped up, right now.
Feeling like your world has turned upside down? Get help restoring your sanity. A 30-minute call may be all you need to find hope and create a plan. You have nothing to lose. Your first coaching session is free.
Get in Touch Now!
With ADHD, solving problems can require custom solutions
Have you ever wanted something to be different, but you weren’t sure what that looked like? This quandary can lead adults with ADHD to put up with less-than-ideal situations for far too long, simply because they can’t see the solution. Sometimes, we all need a little help and encouragement to pursue a solution that is right for us. Let me tell you about my coffee closet conundrum.
I had coffee in a closet that was truthfully a disaster. I would open the door, say “That’s too bad,” and close it again. The coffee closet got messy because I didn’t like taking the time to roll and fasten the top of those one-pound bags, and coffee grounds would sprinkle on the bottom of the closet.
A neuro-typical member of the family suggested that I put the coffee in some of those functional plastic containers for storage. Nice idea, but they were just too boring, not to mention ugly. (OK, admittedly, that might have been better than having the loose bags with the designer coffee spilling out, but really?)
I remember asking an organizer that I had hired if she knew about any containers that weren’t of that cloudy plastic variety. The organizer acted surprised and said that no one had ever asked her that question before. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, as a highly visual and creative person, I was looking for something both beautiful and functional…and in that order!
The answer came at Christmas that year. My kids got me a beautiful set of hand-painted canisters that were just stunning! The matching lids were just as beautiful. They lifted off easily, allowing me to scoop coffee into a waiting pot in one fluid motion. The moral of the story was this: I could have order without sacrificing beauty. Every time I open that closet—which is often—it makes me smile! There was a solution, after all. My solution.
Lessons from the Coffee Closet
Just because you can’t picture the outcome of something doesn’t mean that you don’t know what you want. Many of us have been so busy hanging on for dear life as we navigate life with ADHD that we haven’t had the time or energy to pursue other options. Here are some suggestions for finding out what you truly want.
It’s Your Turn
Identifying a problem is much easier than finding a solution. It’s important to work with a coach or an organizer who “hears your voice,” as opposed to someone who believes that one size fits all. Good solutions are ones that are customized to fit you.
What challenges are you facing today? What would you like to be different? Identify your obstacles and ask yourself: “Who can help?”
Feeling stuck? Enlist the help of an ADHD coach for strength-based support in moving forward with your life.
It takes courage to leave ADHD behind and start pursuing the ‘real’ you
I recently saw the excellent film, “Harriet,” a true story based on the life of activist and former slave Harriet Tubman. Harriet was a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, responsible for leading more than 1,000 slaves to freedom during her lifetime.
On the first journey Harriet made, she traveled more than 100 miles on foot, from Maryland to Pennsylvania. This had never been done by one person alone. Sometime thereafter, Harriet decided to return to the South—at great risk—to free members of her family. When told that she couldn’t do it again, she replied, “I made it this far on my own, so don’t you tell me what I can’t do!”
While the bondage of slavery far outweighs any ADHD challenges we might face, Harriet’s journey offers some valuable lessons. Just as some slaves chose not to follow Harriet to freedom, we may limit what we believe is possible to accomplish.
It took great courage for Harriet to step forward and risk her life—again and again—to give other people a chance to enjoy the same freedom that she had found.
Harriet heard the voice of God all through her life, relying heavily on his guidance. She was often steered away from danger, and she could be found praying for direction. Even though God gave her a vision, Harriet had to take action in order to achieve it. She would explain, “God tells me what to do, but I use my feet!”
As we enter the new year, what small step could you take to get closer to the life you want to lead? It could be:
Find the support you need to start achieving your dreams. Call for a free consultation with an ADHD coach today. There’s no risk. If you want to take the next step, there’s a way to do it. All it takes is the courage to start.
“I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed 1,000 more, if only they knew they were slaves.” – Harriet Tubman
When was the last time you gave thanks? Don’t let ADHD get in the way of gratitude!
The church where I work as a pianist recently had a reception to honor its church musicians. In addition to thanking us in person, many people wrote notes sharing their appreciation for the music we perform during worship. It warmed my heart to read these cards filled with words of gratitude.
It made me wonder why we don’t express gratitude more often, especially when it benefits both the giver and the receiver. What gets in the way? For many people, the obstacle can be ADHD.
Adults with ADHD work hard to navigate the challenges of daily life, such as managing paperwork, taking care of families, or completing work-related projects. We often “hang on by a thread,” trying to keep all of the balls in the air! Tasks take so much longer than we thought they would. Overwhelmed and fueled by anxiety, we shut down. There never seem to be enough hours in the day to do what’s necessary, not to mention anything extra!
Even if we desire to show others that we appreciate them, ADHD symptoms can get in the way. We may want to send someone a thank-you card, but we forget to buy the card or run out of stamps or misplace the person’s address. Or we buy a card and never mail it, because we’re not sure of what to say.
Fortunately, there are many ways to express appreciation that don’t require cards or stamps. Author Gary Chapman wrote a book called “The Five Love Languages” that considers how specific love languages can have a positive impact on our partners and those around us. The five languages are acts of service, words of affirmation, giving, physical touch and quality time. Learning your primary love language can help you identify ways to show appreciation for others.
If you enjoy acts of service, you might volunteer to mow someone’s lawn, or bake them something. You will show appreciation by doing. If words of affirmation come easily to you, consider writing someone a note expressing your gratefulness to them. If your language is giving, you might choose just the right gift for someone. Physical touch can be powerful as we share the sign of peace in a worship setting or give someone a hug. If your language is quality time, think about who you might invite to lunch or meet for coffee.
Equally important is the primary language of the person you want to affirm. If you want to reach that person, use his or her primary love language. If the person values acts of service, you will want to do something for them.
Perhaps knowing how gratitude boosts our own well-being would motivate us to pursue it. Did you know that gratitude actually changes our brain chemistry? A simple exercise, such as writing three things that we are thankful for every night, can raise serotonin levels in as little as three weeks.
Studies have shown that people who express gratitude tend to experience more optimism and less anxiety. They also enjoy stronger immune systems, less stress, and an overall increase in energy. This can happen just by THINKING about gratitude.
In addition, practicing gratitude changes our perspective. As we give to others, we ourselves are lifted up. It helps us remember that this life we lead is not a dress rehearsal. Each day is precious. The present is the present!
Is there a person who was a mentor or changed the course of your life? Let him or her know! Who are your “people”? Spend time with those who support you and be that support for someone else
This holiday season, give the gift of gratitude. Notice the effect on your life, not to mention the lives of others!
Feeling overwhelmed? Get the support you need to overcome daily challenges and start achieving your dreams. Life’s too short to remain stuck. Call for a free consultation with an ADHD coach today.
“If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you must look forward, do so prayerfully. However, the wisest thing you can do is to be present in the present. Gratefully.” Maya Angelou
Have you ever wondered why it is so difficult to make a decision when you have ADHD?
I can picture a recliner I bought on impulse that we called “The Beast.” It was comfortable, all right, but huge: dominating the living room, towering over all of the other furniture. Once we got it home, I wondered: What was I thinking?
Another time, we were considering having a room built. I wanted no part of it because of the countless decisions that would have to be made!
Decision-making is a cognitive process. It requires you to select a belief or a course of action from among several alternate possibilities. Because ADHD affects the cognitive part of our brains, it can take us longer than others to process an array of choices.
What makes decision-making so hard?
What makes a difference?
Time management coach Elizabeth Grace Saunders states that it is important to set yourself up for success. You can do this by paying attention to three decision-making basics:
What works for people with ADHD?
There are a number of tools that can make it easier for people with ADHD to make good decisions:
You’ve Got This!
I’m pleased to say that I quickly said good-bye to “The Beast.”
After beating myself up about making an impulse buy, I DID return the plus-sized recliner to the store. While there, I actually found a recliner that I liked better. “So, I didn’t get it right the first time,” I told myself. “Big deal!” Most decisions are not final and can be reversed if we change our mind.
As for the remodeling job, we DID add on a room to the house. Once I saw a picture in a magazine, I knew exactly what I wanted. All I needed was to see it.
Even ADHD coaches can have trouble making good decisions. We’re human, after all. And isn’t it nice to know that there’s grace for everyone? There will be new opportunities tomorrow to make new and different choices.
If you’ve ever struggled with making decisions, consider reaching out for support. There’s a lot of help available, and sometimes it can be closer than you think.
Contact me today for a free consultation.
Has your child with ADHD struggled in school? Have you spent hours doing homework? Have you battled with daily meltdowns? If your smart child hasn’t been successful in the classroom, you may be starting the new school year with a sense of fear and dread. Take heart! There is a valuable school-based support that can make a huge difference for children with ADHD. It is called a Section 504 plan.
What is a 504 Plan?
Section 504 plans are part of a formal program that schools develop to give kids with disabilities the support they need. These plans are intended to prevent discrimination and protect the rights of kids with disabilities in school. They’re covered under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which is a federal civil rights law.
How does a child qualify for Section 504?
To qualify, a student must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one of more major life activities, such as caring for oneself, thinking, concentrating, learning, walking, seeing, breathing, etc. A student must have a specific medical diagnosis to be considered for a Section 504 plan.
Often children with ADHD qualify under IDEAS, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act law. ADHD falls under “Other Health Impairment,” or OHI. Having ADHD alone doesn’t guarantee eligibility. To qualify for Section 504 or an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), the disorder must substantially affect a child’s ability to function in school.
Who can refer a child for evaluation Section 504?
Anyone can refer a child for evaluation under Section 504, including a parent or doctor. However, each school district follows its own 504 policy, and it must have reason to believe that the child is in need of services under Section 504 due to a disability, educational consultant Mary Durheim writes in “A Parent’s Guide to Section 504.” A parent’s request alone doesn’t require a school district to refer or evaluate a child.
The law also doesn’t require school districts to include parents in the decision-making process. However, it does mandate the school’s 504 Committee to review information from multiple sources. This may include information parents provide about doctors’ reports, outside testing, or coaching recommendations.
How is eligibility determined?
The Section 504 Committee will base its decision on a number of factors, such as grades, state testing scores, school administrative tests, observations, district reports, health records, and school attendance records. No formalized testing is required.
What do accommodations under Section 504 look?
Each student who qualifies for a Section 504 plan will not receive identical accommodations. The school district’s 504 committee will determine what is appropriate for each child, based on the child’s disability and need for support.
Accommodations that benefit students with ADHD might include one or more of the following:
Simply put, Section 504 levels the playing field for students with ADHD. With the right supports in place, students with ADHD can be among the most successful!
Know a student with ADH who needs academic support? Explore the benefits of taking a strength-based approach with ADHD coaching. You have nothing to lose—the first consultation is always free! If you’d like to learn more, set up an appointment today.
A Parent’s Guide to Section 504 by Mary Durheim
Does My Child Need to Be Evaluated to Get a 504 Plan? by Barbara Hubert, MSEd
ADHD Life Coach and Author, Cheryl Gigler, talks about how to become empowered and experience success with ADHD.