There were just four of us sitting close around the marble coffee table, candlelight glow warming my little living room and our hopeful faces. But four souls hungry for a sense of commonality, clues to our future success, and a path to self-fulfillment make for a room full of inspiration. And that’s what drew our attention: How can we overcome the hallmark traits of adult ADHD long enough to stay inspired– or even find our inspiration in the first place?’
It becomes obvious: even a small gathering of adult “ADHDers” generates joy and laughter, thoughtful inquiry, and a plethora of ideas. How any person can point at ADHDers and call them “stupid” or “lazy” is beyond me. (Oh but they do). Last night, our quorum of ADHD Meetup members dispersed better than we were when we arrived because of the sheer fact that we inspire each other. And yet we doubt that in ourselves. Why?
Some of the hallmark traits of ADHD are frequent boredom, insecurity from years of mislabeling and criticism, and a willingness to try new things. MANY new things. In fact, we may appear to shift our interests from thing to thing, hobby to hobby, and career to career. Truth is, we have a generous helping of talents, (in most cases) IQ, and willingness to take risks, meaning a willingness to try something new. Those who point a critical finger at our many discarded interests are often those who are unwilling, for whatever reason, to try a variety of new things. But what happens once we dive into a new interest?Here’s what we reported last night:
- Boredom sets in
- Regret over having committed too much too fast
- Fear of this “not being the thing that I can do the rest of my life”
- Fear of more criticism from others (“You can’t”, or “Why don’t you just get a job…..”)
- We never stick with anything long enough to develop skill or expertise
- We don’t stick with one person long enough to develop deep friendship
- We reinvent ourselves again and again
So what is an intelligent, well-meaning, self-motivated Adult ADHDer to do? If every time we start something new, we go down that path that brings us to a dead halt, what now?
Inspiration can’t be fabricated (else we wouldn’t call it inspiration), but it can be coddled and supported. Not only that, but we can take stock of our lives and skills and things that have brought us fulfillment and find a healthier starting point. This takes time. But magic happens when we do: We learn that there’s a huge gray area between what society wants us to be and who we are. We also learn the “magic of ADHD” and how not to lose our most wonderful qualities while we try to bridge the two.
So how do I find and keep life-long inspiration? Here are a few tips from last nights MeetUp and some I’ve learned through coaching ADHDers:
- Take a painstaking review of your values and passions. Write these down. What are your foundational truths? Why are you here on the planet? What brings your life meaning? What are two things you must do before you die? What in the past has brought you the most fulfillment? The book, What Color is Your Parachute, is a great tool.
- Make a list of your skills (ALL of them). If you have ADHD, you’re great at seeing the big picture and connecting people and ideas in ways other people can’t. If you’re good at making people look beautiful with makeup, write that down. If you enjoy researching, if you do your best work in the sunshine, if you’re amazing at middle-of-the-night brainstorming, write those down. These are clues to your long-lived inspiration!
- Find your support people and use them! People who are close to you but are constant nay-sayers, or ignore your true passions and “bent” need to be disqualified as your support people. True support people will gently hold you accountable to both your goals and guidelines and cheer you every step of the way.Make specific arrangements with them for specific goals and time lines. A Life Coach is a great resource as well. If you don’t have one, schedule a complimentary session with me today.
- Reinvent yourself, but not every weekend! Set limits to the number of different hobbies, careers, or classes to try within one year. Realize that every new hobby or job may be a stepping stone to your true calling.
- Set limits! Decide on a budget for new interests and stick to it. Use an hourglass, egg timer, or cell phone alarm. For new hobbies, spend only $20 for the “try-out” stage. When you need to daydream, make art, brainstorm or just check Facebook, use a 15-minute timer. Limits reduce our regrets later.
- Advertise your unique strengths to others. Make a list in a permanent notebook, on your computer desktop, or post it on the mirror.Write your “elevator speech” for your best qualities and skills including those that come with ADHD. Use this when meeting new people and interviewing for a job; this lets your future friends and future boss know that you know yourself and that you have unique power to be tapped. Magic will happen!
- Find a lifestyle and career that reward your ADHD. Again, the book, What Color is Your Parachute, is a great tool to making your life the way you want it, using your real strengths. There are certainly other good resources, but this one has proven successful- even with me. Visit your local career center on a long lunch break. Don’t discount your hobbies- include them in making life meaningful for you; and, chances are, you can make a living at it.
If you’ll try these 7 steps, your life will change. How much it will change depends on you. I trust you find these applicable and helpful.
I’m curious: Where do you need inspiration? How have you found long-lasting inspiration before? Who is your best true support person? Email me your starting place and an update! Go get ’em!