ADHD Resolutions: reboot or release?

I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions, particularly for people with ADHD. What’s important in goal-setting or intention-setting or whatever-language-you-use-to-make-change-in-your-life, is that it works for how you work. Here’s what works about New Year’s resolutions:

  • the new year gives you a sense of permission to start with a clean slate, rather than dwell in what didn’t work before
  • it’s always great to aim for what you want
  • you have the energy of others also trying to reach their personal goals

Here’s what seems to work, but really doesn’t work about resolutions for people with ADHD and other novelty-seekers:

  • novelty

As adults with ADHD, novelty engages us, focuses us, helps us get things done. It is the excitement we need, the shiny flashy stuff that gets us going. That novelty can totally change how quickly we get something done. BUT, novelty wears off. And personal goals, especially the big kind we are used to setting as New Year’s resolutions, do not get met before the shine wears off. This sets us up to feel like we have failed, when in fact what didn’t go right was the kind of goal-setting. So here are some things that go wrong with New Year’s resolutions that you can use to your advantage when you work through them to work for you

  • tiny goals
  • tiny steps
  • timing  based on you, not just cultural pressures
  • support from others that sticks with you, and doesn’t wear off sometime in January
  • sustainability, sustainability, sustainability.

Sustainability means you can make a change and keep the change even when novelty wears off, and things get rougher to focus on. It means you can keep on going even when the going gets a lot less interesting.