What I Wish I Knew About ADHD Growing Up
In this day and age, it seems everyone has ADHD. It’s much more difficult to make decisions. Focus and attention is seen as a rare commodity. These issues may seem difficult for the everyday person, but what if you have ADHD? What if your attention span was already limited before the game began? What if you, or somebody you know has enough issues focusing on important tasks?
As you can imagine, the extra level of distractedness with ADHD can be debilitating. I know what it’s like because I’ve had it my whole life. However, I figured out a few insights and tricks I wish I knew were available. After practicing them in adulthood, I would gladly recommend anyone with ADHD, child or adult, to use right away.
The first lesson I wish I learned early on is to accept my ADHD. Having ADHD is not a bad thing. It’s simply a thing. It was incredibly hard for my achievement driven personality to accept my disorder. I wanted to be like the other achievers, and I thought I was alone.
Now, according to mental health experts, 1 in 5 adults have a mental health disorder. What does this mean? It simply means you’re part of a group of people who struggle with normal day to day activities. First and foremost, welcome to the club! You’re more normal than you think you are and that’s ok.
Many great achievers such as Jim Carrey and Michael Phelps have ADHD. Knowing I wasn’t alone made it a lot easier to accept where I was. That being said, I want you to leave here today with a little more than just acceptance. As great as it is, that’s only part of the solution.
It Will Take You More Time To Finish Tasks Than You Realize
Preparation is the hallmark of a champion. When I was younger, it was easy to procrastinate, but that was because the game was simpler and wasn’t much of a consequence when I didn’t. That changed very quickly in adulthood. This may come as a shock to many of you, but I wasn’t a planner. In fact, I hated the idea of planning. I often thought, “how dare you impose structure on my life! One does not simply plan their way to success!”
I was partly right in the fact plans only go so far, but I completely threw preparation to the wind and it cost me time. Oh, I lost so much time! The real lesson wasn’t just in preparation, but in the fact I get distracted more easily than others and it takes much more time for me to prepare than the average person.
What often took my peers a couple hours to complete, consumed most of my day. Sometimes all of my day. This was an issue because I spent more time to get the same level of results. My work life suffered immensly. I missed project deadlines, screwed up speeches, and became best friends with HR for all the wrong reasons.
As much as I told myself I was making progress I knew deep down it wasn’t true. By realizing how long it takes me to work I’ve been able to develop systems and strategies to help me prepare better and with less energy. All of these realizations pale in comparison to the power of accountability.
Accountability is Your Best Friend
As much as I hated my mother, professors, and bosses nagging about my behavior I realized they had something important. They could tell when I was distracted. Distractions themselves are not bad. They are responsible for making daily life tolerable and even fun. The level I was distracted clearly got in the way of my goals and aspirations. I was also just wasting time. The distractions didn’t even feel good. It almost hurts how long it took me to understand how powerful accountability is.
I never knew how great accountability was until I practiced it. Having the fortune of a great boss really nailed this lesson. My boss and I wanted to exchange emails everyday with a plan on what I was required to get done. At first, it seemed like micromanagement. Who wants somebody looking over your shoulder the whole time? Everything changed after I saw the results.
Not only did I accomplish way more, but my overall quality was better as well. I stopped missing deadlines, no longer fell asleep in meetings, the list goes on. My ability to focus and limit started growing thanks to my boss keeping me accountable.
By far, I think having a healthy accountability partner in your goals is one of the best lessons I wish I learned early on. What made me hate them eventually turned into gratitude because they had my best interest in mind and kept my goals sticky.
I really want to know some of your thoughts. What is one thing you wish you knew about ADHD growing up? Why is it so helpful to you now?
Kyle coaches and consults with corporate professionals with ADHD. He has worked with several C-suite executives, middle management, and other corporate professions. You can subscribe to his newsletter at Cubefulness.com