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Make ADHD Your Superpower

This article aims to teach you how to utilize a practical framework to advocate for the support you need from coaches and other support providers;  use solution-focused questions to reflect on your challenges, generate solutions for them, and leverage a support team to help you reach your goals.

There are four steps to making ADHD your superpower: Get clear on your goal, identify the steps to reach your goal, maintain momentum toward your goal, and use your resources/community. 

GETTING CLEAR ON YOUR GOAL

The first step is to get clear on your goal. Oftentimes, you can start by digging for “The Why”. During this step, you will ask yourself three questions:

“If I were to wave a magic wand and I could have exactly what you want in three months, how would my life be different?” You will want to do this because you need to generate the goal, rather than having someone else tell you what you want. Getting clear on what you want, supports you to think in terms of wants, rather than deficits, which is key for maximizing your potential with ADHD.  This step will also help you identify what resources are necessary to meet your goal. 

How will I feel if I reach that goal? This question is necessary because integrating thought and feeling increases the probability of meeting our goals. It also allows you to train your Reticular Activating System (RAS) to notice sensory details and information that help to reach stated goals, and stimulates visualization of desired results which signals the brain to generate an impulse that tells our neurons to “perform” the movement.

“What is preventing me from reaching my goal, and what resources are available for me to overcome them?”  This question allows for you to acknowledge your barriers and think about the resources you have to overcome them.  It helps you identify which people, organizations, activities or other support systems that can help you reach your goal.

IDENTIFY THE STEPS TO REACHING YOUR GOAL

The second step is to identify the steps to reach your goal. This step uses reverse engineering to get clear on the necessary steps toward goal completion. The second step is broken into two parts:

First, ask yourself, “What are the most important milestones between where I am and where I want to be?” This question forces you to practice chunking out goals until you reach a step that is within your zone of proximal development.  It also allows you to create a multi-step process that increases your motivation as you accomplish each step and establish a realistic timeline for reaching your goal. 

Next, create a shared action plan. This will help you establish a singular and unified system to manage your goals. Help you see all the steps you have completed to reach your goal, and provide other support with any easy way to support you in reaching your goal.

MAINTAINING MOMENTUM TOWARD REACHING YOUR GOAL

The third step- and arguably the most difficult- is maintaining your momentum toward reaching your goal. There are 3 parts to this step:

 Start by asking yourself, “What is the ONE thing I want to get done today toward meeting my goal?”. This will help you: Increase task-initiation by decreasing the cognitive demand to prioritize. Additionally, this question creates a low-stakes opportunity to demonstrate success and enhances confidence and self-esteem as you see yourself as capable of taking action toward your goal.

Next, practice asking yourself Solution-Focused Questions. For example, “Do you have time to work on that ONE thing today?” This question will support you to resolve ambivalence and “make up your mind” about a self-generated goal. Solution-Focused Questioning enhances your executive function skills by helping you consider the chunks necessary to accomplish your task.Thirdly, find an accountability partner who asks for proof of a task being completed. For example, they could ask you, “Would you share the proof with me when you have done that?” This enhances your executive function by demonstrating that you are accountable for your progress. This piece of the process also creates low-stakes opportunities to demonstrate your progress and decreases avoidant tendencies. Lastly, practice sharing and seeking feedback. This could be to yourself or others, as long as it is purposeful. For example, you could journal about progress,  share with your buddy that you’ve made tangible progress toward your goal, or ask a teacher/supervisor for feedback on an assignment. This enhances your executive function by providing your support provider with the necessary information to help you reach your goals, and helps you continue to clarify what you want.

IT TAKES A VILLAGE

The fourth and final step is to use your resources: the people around you! It’s important to remember that you don’t have to do this work in a vacuum; you have people in your life helping you to reach your goals. 

Start this step by identifying your board of directors. This question to yourself might sound like, “Who are the people you can talk to to make big decisions?” This enhances your executive function by: 

Getting feedback before making a decision, helping you see the bigger picture and consider other perspectives, and reducing impulsivity.

The second part of this step is to call a meeting with your board of directors. The questions during this process might be, “What is going well? What needs to change? Who does what? Other?” You can practice these questions to see what works best for you. This enhances your executive function by practicing problem-solving in a community, providing a safe opportunity for all of you to receive authentic feedback, and creating shared responsibility among your board that helps direct your behavior.

Once you have practiced this 4 step-process, maximizing aspects of your ADHD will become easier. Over time, having strategies for staying focused, starting tasks, managing time, creating habits, and managing procrastination will support you in reaching your overarching goals, and support a balanced life.

MAKE ADHD YOUR SUPERPOWER: CHECKLIST

GET CLEAR ON YOUR GOAL

  • Envision how your life would be different if you reached your goal in exactly three months.
  • Answer the question: How will I feel if I reach that goal? 
  • Answer the question: What is preventing me from reaching my goal and what resources are available for me to overcome them? 

IDENTIFY THE STEPS TO REACHING YOUR GOAL

  • Answer the question, “What are the most important milestones between where I am and where I want to be?
  • Create a shared action plan. 

MAINTAIN MOMENTUM TOWARD REACHING YOUR GOAL

  • Answer the question,  “What is the ONE thing I want to get done today toward meeting my goal?”
  • Practice asking yourself Solution-Focused Questions.
  • Find an accountability partner who asks for proof of a task being completed.
  • Practice sharing and seeking feedback. 

IT TAKES A VILLAGE

  • Identify your board of directors
  • Call a meeting with your board of directors 
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Sean McCormick

Make ADHD Your Superpower

This article aims to teach you how to utilize a practical framework to advocate for the support you need from coaches and other support providers; 

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