John Donne (1572-1631)
You are not an “island.” Your life is affected by your “ecosystem,” all the things and people you interact with. Your ecosystem is never neutral; it can help you or hinder you. Good news… you decide which it is!
Your “ecosystem” combines external factors such as your:
- physical environment (your space and how it’s organized at home, in your car, your office),
- family relationships (immediate and extended),
- social network (relationships with friends, associates, acquaintances and even people you haven’t met yet if you tend to network with the same type of people consistently),
- body (health, your appearance, etc.),
- financial health, and
Your ecosystem also includes internal environments such as your strengths, skills, capabilities, values, needs and beliefs. These elements are so intertwined that when one part is out of whack; your whole ecosystem system gets “sick.”
Achieving goals is far easier if your “ecosystem” supports you. When your environment conspires against you, you’re like “a fish out of water.”
Your Ecosystem Reflects Who You Are
If you’re a couch potato, you probably hang with other couch potatoes. You have big plans for the Super Bowl, and maybe even for the entire football season! You’re more likely to invest in a satellite TV than in a good suit. If you want to be a couch potato, you have created the perfect ecosystem to maintain your lifestyle.
But if you’d prefer to live a healthier life in pursuit of your passions (unless your passion is watching TV), you’ll want to change your ecosystem. A supportive ecosystem makes it possible to move forward instead of falling back into old habits, and yet we continue to struggle while leaving obstacles in our paths.
The Environment Always Wins
Neglecting the state of your ecosystem is “a mistake, big, huge” (Julia Roberts, Pretty Woman). If you’ve decided to become healthier by losing 30 pounds this year, you know what you need to do. You eat smaller portions and choose healthier foods, you drink more water, and you exercise. Congratulations! Weight loss is a foregone conclusion. Then your spouse brings home ice cream and you succumb to temptation (junk food in the store is much easier to resist than junk food in the kitchen!)
Perhaps you’ve decided to apply ADD-friendly strategies to manage your life in a way that works for you. If you haven’t prepared your spouse for the changes, they could inadvertently sabotage your efforts. But before you start pointing fingers, it isn’t always your spouse’s fault!
You just had a brilliant idea for a new product so you decide to start a business. As you plan the launch of your product, you realize you need more money that you have, and you’re already deep in debt. You end up spending all your energy trying to dodge creditors, and soon your business fails. Or perhaps you share your amazing idea with your friends and family (who’ve never owned businesses) and they all explain to you how business people are crooks, you’ll have no security, it will never work, and if it would work, it’ll certainly never work for you! More dreams are “murdered” by negative people in your ecosystem than ever die of natural causes.
Some Assembly Required
Achieving any dream or goal takes preparation and planning. Take some time to get your ducks in a row and your ecosystem in alignment with your objectives. To live a healthier lifestyle, seek your spouse’s support, participate in meal preparation and ban junk food from your pantry.
Before you start a business, establish relationships with other entrepreneurs. Get your finances in order and eliminate or at least reduce your debts. (Trading in that big-screen TV for a nice suit is a good step.) Yes, it takes time to synchronise your ecosystem with your ambitions, but once the supportive elements are in place, you’ll make significant progress far more quickly.
And if you’re a Creative Genius with ADHD and you’re tackling your ADHD head on, share your ADHD-friendly strategies with your family and especially with your spouse. Share with your spouse how ADHD affects your marriage and explain the strategies and how they’ll help. Adults with ADHD face plenty of challenges in their ecosystem. Getting your spouse on your side and improving your life as a couple is one of the best ways to reinforce your ecosystem and get ready to face those challenges.