The traits of ADHD
The first stumbling block is ADHD itself. Achieving goals typically requires some level of organization, self-discipline, and persistence. Traits associated with ADHD often run counter to them. Let’s look at the three types of ADHD.
- Inattentive type. Some common challenges include not paying close attention to detail, difficulty sustaining attention, becoming easily distracted, avoiding activities that require sustained mental effort, being forgetful, and having difficulty organizing tasks and activities. Need I say more?
- Hyperactive/Impulsive type. Symptoms might look like acting fidgety or being “driven by a motor,” talking excessively, interrupting or intruding on other’s conversations, blurting out, or having trouble waiting your turn.
- Combined type. You might experience some or all of the above symptoms.
Many of the tasks associated with being organized are tasks a person does sitting down, like using planner, sorting papers, or doing taxes. For someone in constant motion, it’s a challenge to sit down in the first place – most certainly when you are trying to complete a task that doesn’t come easily.
Executive skills, which play an important role in achieving goals, are often impaired in people with ADHD. Think of executive skills as tasks that a CEO of a company might do. They are higher-level thought processes that involve the part of the brain just behind the eyebrows, called the prefrontal cortex.
Six areas are affected by executive function disorder, says Larry Silver, MD, in his excellent article, “Executive Function Disorder, Explained.” They are the ability to analyze a task, plan how to address the task, organize the steps necessary to complete the task, develop timelines for completing the task, adjust or shift the tasks needed to complete the task, and complete the task in a timely manner.
Even if you know what you need to do in order to reach a goal, somehow you may never manage to accomplish those things if your executive skills aren’t working properly.
Many of us truly want to be organized, but we may not be sure what that looks like. You may have grown up in a home where disorganization was the rule. If that’s the case, you may need some help learning how to get organized – and stay that way. One of the best things I ever did was to hire an organizer. No one is good at everything, and it is important to reach out for the help we need.
It is very easy to live in survival mode. The sooner we learn about our own ADHD and how it presents, the more we can begin thriving with ADHD verses surviving. We want to look ahead and to be proactive in our lives, rather than reactive. As Dr. Oz says, “when we know better, we do better.”