Are you living with ADHD and looking for a way to set New Year resolutions that you can achieve? Agave Health's Coach Danielle Ralston shares the tips that can help alleviate the daily frustrations of life so you can push through and craft the resolutions that suit you, for a more manageable life.
January 2023, Danielle Ralston, ADHD Coach @ Agave Health
Hello, fellow ADHD brain here; our ADHD brains LOVE to make EPIC plans. The problem is, suddenly, our brains like to say no, "I am not the same person I was when I made that list," even if it was only 10 minutes ago.
It is possible to create positive New Years' Resolutions that work WITH ADHD brains like ours instead of causing shame, guilt, and frustration for once again failing to meet the goals we set for ourselves.
This blog post will discuss how to set ADHD-friendly New Year resolutions and some strategies to help you reach your goals. You can make this year a success with the right plan and support. Let's discuss some options to make this year a success instead of another ADHD frustration...
"When you set an intention, you are creating a pact with yourself to work towards changing something in your life for the better."
Tip 1: Set Intentions instead of Resolutions
The first big secret is calling it a New Year's Intention (thank you, Coach Britt, for this name change). An intention is to create micro-changes until you have a new habit.
When you set an intention, you are creating a pact with yourself to work towards changing something in your life for the better. Notice this is not an all-or-nothing process; it is a plan to work toward a change.
So when you intend to change an area of your life, you can look at each small change that builds a more significant impact.
Here's a quick example. Instead of saying I will get up early, plan my day out each day, and get everything done on my list. Try this instead; start by writing down everything you need to remember each day; we call this a brain dump; get in the habit of writing everything down so your brain can be clearer. Once you get good at doing that, then you add in the next step which might be setting a daily intention of 3 tasks that are the must-dos for the day. Once you get good at doing that. Get up 15 minutes earlier each day for a while and slowly work towards your main goal of getting up early.
Tip 2: KISS Your Intentions / Resolutions
In other words: KEEP IT SUPER SIMPLE oh and practical.
When I make (and keep) an intention to change, it's almost always because of the benefits I know are on the other side of the uncomfortable journey I'm about to embark on.
I say, "I am willing to overcome (and fight through) the discomfort, instead of doing what comes naturally to my ADHD brain, to receive benefit that will improve this area of my life."
Even then, the typical resolutions of exercising, eating healthier, and slimming down are too big for me. About 10 years ago, I resolved two things: to make the bed every day and wash the dishes before bed. And you know what? I still do these things religiously — I formed and kept the habit because the lack of stress caused by my "normal" was worth the discomfort in the journey to a new pattern.
"Set yourself up for victory laps instead of failure loops."
Tip 3: Stop Dreaming for Massive Changes ; Dream for Real Life
As an ADHD brain, I set unrealistic goals. This tendency seldom works in my favor because negative self-talk begins when I don't achieve my goals; if I dream too big, I sometimes end up feeling like a failure. The shame of telling someone I failed at my resolutions once again and getting sick of adding another check mark to the list of things you tried but couldn't figure out how to do. Instead, dream in reality, YOUR reality. Set yourself up for victory laps instead of failure loops.
Tip 4: Have a WHY to Your Intentions
When we know WHY we want or need to get something done or change a habit, we are more likely to accomplish small changes that add up to HUGE successes.
When I set up to change something, I write down WHY I want to do it and re-visit it daily. This helps keep me on track and reminds me why I am causing the discomfort of battling learning to change and do something new that future me will love me for.
Tip 5: Accept Your ADHD
ADHD is not a disability; it is a diffability (you have different abilities from the "normal"). ADHD is not an impenetrable wall; it's a speed bump. Since I've learned to recognize and acknowledge my individual symptoms, my ability to work through related speed bumps has improved. I see my ADHD and realize how it prevents me from moving forward. Not accepting ADHD as a part of what makes me - well, me - is counterproductive. ADHD is different for each person. So only you can know how, when, and where your ADHD shows up in your life — and resolve not to let it stop you.
Tip 6: Track Your Successful Steps
I used to spend most of the day feeling like I never finished my to-do list. Instead of remembering the times I did achieve the tiny steps to reach my goals, I remember the times I failed.
Thinking about a single task's anticipated difficulty stopped me from even trying to do the task. Too often, I wasted time complaining about how overwhelmed I felt or how hard it was to change. Ultimately, I talked myself out of trying a new challenge.
My goal for the New Year: Think about those times when I truly wanted something so badly that I made it happen — no matter what. Those successes are my standards for every new goal.
Tip 7: Get an Accountability Partner
When you have someone to set intentions with you, you are more likely to accomplish your goals.
This can look like so many things.
Chatting with an Agave ADHD coach: to set your intentions daily and check in with your progress throughout the day to stay on track - this works because we know someone gets us and understands our struggles and how to accomplish the hard things throughout our days.
Body-Doubling: set a chat intention or get on a zoom call and quietly work while on camera. This is a tremendous motivational process.
Goal Setting buddy: whether you do this with our Agave Coach or even your bestie, speaking your intentions out loud and/or in writing and having someone check back in with you just once a week sets you up for success.
Setting and achieving New Year's resolutions/intentions can make life more manageable. We are not quitters, but anyone with ADHD will tell you that the daily frustration is painful to push through. Emotional crises, RSD, anxiety, and procrastination sometimes become overwhelming and make us less tolerant of dealing with challenges. To succeed, we must set a goal, face our battles head-on, and be consistent. This means admitting that our dreams won't be achieved quickly but that we are tough, driven, and resilient enough to push through. I promise. You can. And YOU will!!