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Top 3 Strategies to Conquer Overwhelm

“I was running around, jumping from one task to another… as soon as I started something, I’d realize I was forgetting another task, so I’d jump on it. I was frazzled and then I realized I was getting nowhere!”

This was how my client, Chris described the moments leading to his near-breakdown. He was suffering a massive case of overwhelm.

“I lost it. I completely zoned out, paralyzed by this overwhelming feeling that everything was out of control. The phone was ringing, emails kept coming in, proposals needed my attention and I just couldn’t move, I couldn’t think. I felt this sense of doom.

“What’s worse,” he continued, “is that I have been having more of these episodes lately and I have no idea what to do.”

What Chris was describing is known as overwhelm. It happens to many of my clients, and as Chris discovered, unless things change, it’ll keep happening. If you tackle your work and your life the same way, you’ll get the same results, day after day… after day.

In this video, discover the 3 top strategies for stopping the cycle of overwhelm, strategies you can implement right now.

Facebook Live Event: Top 3 Strategies for Stopping Overwhelm

What: Facebook Live Event

When: Tuesday, April 4th, 2017 at 8 pm EST (New York time).

Where: on Facebook Live Click here to get notification

“I was running around, jumping from one task to another… as soon as I started something, I’d realize I was forgetting another task, so I’d jump on it. I was frazzled and then I realized I was getting nowhere!”

This was how my client, Chris described the moments leading to his near-breakdown. He was suffering a massive case of overwhelm.

“I lost it. I completely zoned out, paralyzed by this overwhelming feeling that everything was out of control. The phone was ringing, emails kept coming in, proposals needed my attention and I just couldn’t move, I couldn’t think. I felt this sense of doom.

“What’s worse,” he continued, “is that I have been having more of these episodes lately and I have no idea what to do.”

What Chris was describing is known as overwhelm. It happens to many of my clients, and as Chris discovered, unless things change, it’ll keep happening. If you tackle your work and your life the same way, you’ll get the same results, day after day… after day.

In this Facebook Live session, discover the 3 top strategies for stopping the cycle of overwhelm, strategies you can implement right now.

Like the Event and the following Page: CreativeGeniusCoach Page

Goal Setting for Creative Geniuses: Reaching Goals Without Willpower

This is the third part of my three-part series on Goal Setting for Creative Geniuses. In the first lesson of the series, we discussed the importance of the big WHY, your reason for wanting to achieve this goal. In the second lesson, we looked at how you can improve your chances of making progress by taking consistent actions that lead to results. In this lesson, I’ll share a model you can use to turn results-driven routines into habits so powerful you’ll practically be able to achieve your goals in your sleep! (Well, almost.)

As we’ve seen, it’s much easier to reach goals using small consistent actions than it is to try to do everything at once. If you were able to make those small consistent actions without thinking about them, you wouldn’t need willpower to reach your goal. The way to do this is to turn those routines, the small consistent actions that move you toward your goal into a habit.

Let’s look at how to do that. Turning those actions into a habit requires three components: a trigger, a routine and a reward. Let’s dive into each of these elements. A trigger is an event that occurs in your environment that tells you it’s time to start the routine. A routine is simply a series of steps that when completed in the same order allow you to reach a consistent result. The reward, of course, is a motivator – it can be external to the routine or integral to it.

So let’s look at an example of the “habit loop.” When you are hungry, your stomach growls (the trigger), you raid your pantry or the staffroom refrigerator for food, heat it up and eat it (all these steps are the routine) and your hunger is abated (the reward).

Let’s apply this same model to a goal you might want to reach: Getting in shape.

As we mentioned earlier, it’s much easier to reach this goal through a series of consistent actions, such as exercising every day, than it is to do it all at once. You can’t get to the Olympics by being a couch potato for three years and then working non-stop for the last year!

Step 1: Consider the routine first. When you apply this strategy to reach goals such as getting in shape by exercising every day, you’ll always want to look at the routine first. In this case, let’s say you decide you want to run for 30 minutes every morning before work. If you haven’t run in a while, you might need to start with running 5 minutes a day.

Step 2: Identify a trigger that will remind you it’s time to put on your runners and pound the pavement. Triggers can be auditory cues such as reminders or alerts on your phone, visual cues such as keeping your runners next to your bed so your feet hit your shoes first when you wake up. A trigger can also be an event such as waking up or eating breakfast. Choose one or more triggers to see what works best for you. You decide to set your alarm an hour before you usually wake up and to put your shoes next to your bed.

Step 3: Determine how you will stay motivated to continue. ”Ideally the reward comes naturally as a result of the routine. In this case, feeling healthy is its own reward, but you may need to spice things up, at least until you start feeling the health benefits of running. You may decide to reward yourself with a small piece of dark chocolate (my favorite!), read a magazine you enjoy, watch a couple of cat videos on YouTube, spend time with friends, etc. The key is that the reward must be motivating for you. Eventually, these three elements will be linked in your mind so that the trigger will not only remind you of the routine but also of the promise of the reward you’ll get from completing the routine.

One client who works in real estate wanted to increase his listings. He decided to use the Habit Loop to help make it happen. He chose his trigger as an appointment he had twice a week with a junior real estate agent he wanted to mentor to make calls.

The routine that would lead to more listings was to call more prospects, among other things. However, he struggled to get this done, so he looked at a reward that might help motivate him.
His reward initially was to have several prospective listings to visit. His ultimate reward was to increase his standing in the real estate brokerage firm he was associated with.

The Habit Loop works for everyone, but as a creative genius, just remember that your rewards need to occur relatively quickly after completion of the routine.

How You Can Use This

So now your it’s your turn. What results are you looking for?

Step 1: What is a routine that will help you progress toward that result?

Step 2: What trigger can you use to set the routine in motion?

Step 3: What reward will you get?
Will it be intrinsic to the routine or will you create an artificial one while you wait for your desired results? (To play it safe, use both!)

Once you’ve established a strong Habit Loop, you can count on reaching your goal automatically. You won’t need to think about it, and it really will feel like you could succeed in your sleep! Master the power of the Habit Loop and you’ll be able to easily achieve goals you once thought were out of your reach.

Goal Setting for Creative Geniuses: Taking Action

 

In the first part of this lesson, Goal Setting for Creative Geniuses: The Big Why, we looked at how important it is to have a good reason you want to accomplish whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish. It doesn’t matter if you call it a goal, an objective a desire or a New Year’s Resolution. Regardless of how important the objective is to the people around you, and that includes everyone from your boss to your children, you’re unlikely to achieve it unless you have a compelling “why” that will keep you motivated when you just feel like giving up.

Today, we’ll learn about a strategy that will make reaching your goals much more likely and more predictable.

Achieving most worthwhile goals require some repeated actions on a consistent basis. Achieving a goal that doesn’t require a continued effort and repeated action is usually not a challenge for creative geniuses. You’re here at your desk and you want to go to the fridge for a drink. This is a goal that will require a small effort over a relatively short period of time. On top of that, the motivation is built in. That drink is going to taste great!

No, the goals that challenge creative geniuses are those that require you to sustain your effort for a long period of time, and that effort includes doing things you’ll find difficult or worse, boring! For example, if you’re trying to increase sales in your business, you can’t just pick the next name on the list and go sell them something. Not every person you talk to is a prospect, and not every prospect becomes a customer. In order to increase sales, you must increase the number of people you speak with. Some of those people will become prospects. If you speak to more people, you’ll have more prospects. Then, you need to pitch to more prospects. Some of those prospects will become customers. If you pitch to more prospects, more prospects will become clients. Only a sustained, consistent effort will result in more sales.

Let’s look at another example. If you want to be and feel healthy, you must consistently sleep better, you must exercise more and you must eat more nutritious meals. You will not have a healthy lifestyle if you stay up all night every night and then sleep 50 hours on the weekend. You cannot eat junk food every day for lunch and hope to recuperate by eating nothing but vegetables on the weekend. (Besides, you’re supposed to be catching up on your sleep, remember!)

If you want an organized home, you’ll be much more successful if you determine a place for each item and get in the habit of putting things away where they go right after you’re finished with them than you will if you do a “spring cleaning” every other week. Clutter is impossible to stay ahead of any way but with small, consistent actions.

une-petite-etapeTo achieve the goals that preoccupy most creative geniuses, the key to success is a series of small actions that move you in the right direction repeated routinely. Alone, these small steps look easy, and they are easy! Anyone can eat one healthy, balanced meal. It’s easy to get to bed on time once. The challenge is to do it again, and again. The thing is, it really isn’t any more difficult to eat balanced meal every day than it is to do it once. A healthy meal is the result of a series of identifiable, repeatable steps. Every time you follow those steps, the result is predictably a healthy, balanced meal. We call those series of repeatable steps that give a consistent result a routine. How then do you ensure you repeat those same series of steps over and over until you achieve you ultimate goal: good health? The best way to consistently get the same results is to turn that routine into a habit.

A habit is simply a routine that you’ve repeated so many times that it has become mechanical. You’ve followed that same series of steps so many times that the new pathways you created in your brain to allow you to prepare a healthy, nutritious meal have become four-lane highways. Your automatic reaction to hunger is to prepare a healthy meal. No thought is required.

Habits become so ingrained they become the easiest way for you to act. This reduces the amount of energy you use to accomplish those repeated steps. The human brain is bombarded daily, with stimuli it must react to, with choices it must make decisions about and problems it must solve, that it welcomes, and even encourages you, to use routines and habits. In fact, without routines and habits, you’d find it very difficult to get out of bed – the decisions you’d need to make before you even left that house would leave you exhausted!

You can reach any goal that’s important to you, break it down into a series of repeatable steps or routines, and turn those routines into habits. Creating those routines and adopting habits that help you progress toward your objectives reduces the energy you must expend. In fact, this is the easiest way to achieving almost anything.

So, given the goal you’ve set for yourself, what routine could you create that would move you in the right direction? Once you have a routine that delivers consistent results, repeat that routine again and again until it becomes a habit. Once you’ve created that habit, success is inevitable!

In the next part of this series, I’ll share a model you can use to help you turn those routines into habits more effectively.

Is My Working Memory On Strike?

TimeManagementReminderRecently on my Facebook page, one of my readers asked an excellent question that, I think, merits some exploration. She asked me, “Why can I remember the smallest details about events that happened years ago, yet not remember what I did an hour ago?” Memory issues are a common problem in people with Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) that we don’t often discuss, but the repercussions can be huge.

Over twenty clinical studies on ADHD have shown that the volume of the prefrontal cortex and the cingulate cortex of people with ADHD is different compared to those of non-ADHDers.  These two structures in your brain are responsible for the executive functions, functions which are involved in many high-level cognitive processes such as planning, organizing, strategizing, focus, time management, project management, emotional control, initiating activity (getting started) and working memory.

If I Forget, Is It Always Caused by Lapses in Memory?

Two of the executive functions can play a role in memory issues. For example, if you are not paying attention to where you drop your keys when you come home, no information will be remembered but not because you forgot. You never had any information to store in your memory banks in the first place. Most of the memory issues ADHDers face are associated specifically with their working memory.

Wikipedia defines working memory as “the system that is responsible for the transient holding and processing of new and already stored information, an important process for reasoning, comprehension, learning and memory updating.”  It’s the process you use when you try to dial a phone number or complete some mental calculation. Imagine your spouse asks you to complete a task, and you agree to do this task. So, you’re off to complete the task, but on the way, the phone rings or you have an interesting idea or some other distraction occurs. Now, if you have a poor working memory, which is the case for people with ADHD, the task you promised to do, which is not yet in your long-term memory, is completely forgotten. It was wiped out by the new information you put in your working memory. Of course, as many of you know, this can cause a lot of problems in your relationships.

Why Can You Remember Certain Information or Events and Not Others?

Researchers have identified certain factors that influence your capacity to remember certain information or events:

  1. Your level of attention for the event. Do you have something else on your mind? Are you anxious or excited about something else while this is going on?
  2. Your interest in the subject. Of course, if you are interested or passionate about a particular subject, or it is one that you need to know, you are more motivated to expend the effort to pay attention and to retain it.
  3. Your emotional state during the event. In the past, when my ADHD husband and I fought, he was able to quote me on things I said or did during some of the more explosive fights we had five or six years before. I was amazed he could quote me word-for-word what I had said, what I was wearing, where we were standing, but he couldn’t remember what he had committed to do fifteen minutes earlier. As you can imagine the situations he was recalling were very emotional for both of us, and as a result, they tended to be stored easily in long-term memory.
  4. The sensory context. We best remember situations that were vividly captured by our sense of smell, taste, sight, hearing and touch. You’ll more easily remember a meal you had in a restaurant where the food was incredibly tasty or awful.

How Do I Manage If My Working Memory Is On Strike?

Now that you know more about your memory, it’s important to recognize that working memory is an issue for people with ADHD, and that there are strategies you can use to compensate for those issues.  Here are a few:

  1. Avoid relying on your memory for important information. Keep a small notebook on you or use an application such as Evernote on your smart phone to capture all relevant and important information.
  2. Create a system that includes reviewing your notes. You could make an appointment with yourself in your calendar to review your notes periodically during the day and to make decisions about how you will manage the information. Do you need to set an appointment with yourself to complete something? Do you want to capture the information for a project you’re working on? Use your agenda to create reminders for things you must remember later.
  3. Learn to move important, relevant, information to your long-term memory through repetition or by reviewing the information through different senses.
  4. Create systems such as habits and routines to avoid needing to remember tasks that are important in your life. This way you can “set ‘em and forget ‘em” because your system will kick in when it’s time to remember.

If you want more information on memory, here’s a good resources:   http://thebrain.mcgill.ca/flash/a/a_07/a_07_p/a_07_p_tra/a_07_p_tra.html

Avoiding ADHD Blow Ups at Work

One of the top reasons adults with ADHD are reprimanded at work or lose their jobs is for what is perceived as bad behavior. Adults with ADHD are very familiar with their issues with productivity, but ADHDers often struggle to control their emotions. You may ruminate more than most people, become defensive and overreact in the face of real or imagined criticism, become easily frustrated and blurt out your feelings (once again asking yourself, “Oooops! Did I say that out loud?”)

ADHD Makes Me Lose Control

ADHD affects your brain’s executive functions, one of which is to control frustration and other emotions. You may also enjoy the stimulation of an extreme emotion. Many ADHDers I know seek or create situations where emotions run high because it keeps their mind focused on what’s going on. My husband often says that while it’s not listed as an ADHD symptom, it should be! ADHDers are “drama addicts”! Finally, you may have scars from numerous reprimands and put downs that make you more vulnerable to negative thoughts.

Controlling Your Emotions Starts With Taking Care of Your Physical Needs

You may remember the recent candy bar commercial where the late, great Robin Williams played a football coach (with typical manic impersonations of numerous characters) before transforming into the actual football coach once he’d eaten this candy bar. The message that “you’re not yourself when you’re hungry,” applies very well to ADHDers. I quickly notice how much more emotionally charged conversations are in our house when one of the ADHDers I live with is hungry or hasn’t slept well the night before. Exercise also helps you manage stress better, so skipping your regular workout makes you more susceptible to feeling frustrated.

Become Familiar with Your Internal Workings

You can help gain control over your emotions by learning how they work. And I’m not referring to “theoretical” knowledge you’d get from a book; I mean you need to take the time after an emotional outburst to think through what happened. What triggered the event, what was your reaction, and why were the results negative? You can then plan ahead by considering how you could have responded that would have had a different result so that you can better manage it the next time. This is a huge challenge for many ADHDers who, once the emotion has quieted down, don’t pay attention to it, other than to wonder how they can make amends for saying or doing what they just did.

However, if you can practice analyzing your emotional outbursts, you may need to apologize far less often. I know many ADHDers find rehearsed “scripts” that may or may not involve speaking very useful. One of the most common such scripts that everyone has been taught at some point is, “If I feel I’m going to say something I might regret, I’ll count to 10.) The problem is always how to know an outburst is coming before it’s too late (more on that in a minute.)

Techniques such as mindfulness can also be helpful. Mindfulness is not about contemplating your navel; rather, it’s about being present in the moment, engaging all your senses and feeling what’s going on now. What you want to review are:

1) What event triggered your emotional blow-up?

2) What sensation did you feel in your body shortly before the emotional outburst occurred?

Was there tension in your shoulders? Did you feel something in the pit of your stomach? Did your breathing or heart rate change? Paying attention to these signs can be very helpful for managing your emotions in the future. The next time you start feeling those sensations, you’ll be better able to predict and possibly prevent an imminent blow up.

3) What emotion did you feel?

Was it fear? Anger? Jealousy? Outrage? Sadness? At first blush, they all appear as, “I was just mad.” However, you want to hone in on the true source of the emotion you perceived as “mad.” This will shed light on the thoughts the event triggered.

4) What were you thinking?

Events trigger thoughts, which trigger emotions. What belief is at the root of the thought? For example, your boss may look at you one day with a strange look on her face. You might think to yourself, “I’ve done something wrong, she’s going to fire me” and begin to feel anxious. This feeling will cause a lot of tension in your shoulders and a lump in the pit of your stomach, thinking that you’ll probably be raked over the coals. You start telling yourself things like “I’m always making mistakes or saying the wrong thing.”

I’ll discuss how you can manage that thought in a future segment. For now, let’s keep our focus on how you can control the outburst at work.

Crafting a Game Plan

It’s always better to craft a game plan for those emotional outbursts that happen often while you’re not emotionally volatile. The best way to control your emotions is to be aware of triggers and clues that you’re losing your cool and to have a plan on how you’ll deal with these triggers when the clues show up. Most of us have a few options when events make us emotional.

1) You can react: This is of course, what you’ve been doing and you might want to change it since it is exactly what’s gotten you into trouble.

2) You can remove yourself from the situation: You can create a “script” to explain why you need to remove yourself; prepare it in advance.

3) You can let it go: As you become better at controlling your emotions, this will become an option that’s open to you.

4) You can prepare a response ahead of time: This requires forethought. Take time to analyze past experiences for clues. Once you have identified a few clues to help you predict an imminent emotional outburst, you can craft a game plan for managing your emotions BEFORE they occur. Become sensitive to the clues that something is about to happen and decide how you’ll handle things the next time these clues appear. The nice part is that you can even ask for help in preparing your game plan from someone who has more experience and more success dealing with people. You may want to practice your response in front of the mirror or with the person helping you, as long as they are someone who has your back and is willing to help you.

Your game plan may look like this:

  • When I notice myself feeling overwhelmed, I’ll take two deep breaths. As soon as I feel the tension dropping, I’ll make a list of what needs to get done and if needed, I’ll talk to my boss to determine priorities.
  • When I notice that I’m clenching my jaw and my fists and I know I’m close to losing my cool, I’ll tell people “I need a bit of time to think about this; I’ll get back to you later.” or you can simply use an excuse to walk away so that you can “regroup”.

ADHD Adults Need to Focus to Thrive – a new group program

by Linda Walker

If you’re subscribed to my newsletter you know I’ve just launched a new program called Thrive! The Natural Approach to Optimal Focus and Effectiveness for Creative Geniuses.

In this video, I’ll cut to the chase to provide you with information so that you can decide if you want to know more.

I’d love to hear what you think of the video. Thanks for taking the time to let me know.

Two New Conferences on Adult ADHD

We’re launching two coaching groups for The Maximum Productivity Makeover for Creative Geniuses (AKA ADHD Adults). The groups start on Tuesday, October 16th at 1 pm ET (7 pm Central European Time) and Thursday, October 18th at 7 pm ET (3 pm CT).

For those who are registering by September 30th, we’ll also include two bonus conferences:



Adult ADHD: You, Me and My ADHD

When diagnosed, most adults with ADHD feel relief.  You feel vindicated, that you’re not, in the words of Kate Kelly and Peggy Romundo, “lazy, stupid of crazy!”  But your partner felt relieved too, but for an entirely different reason.  Unfortunately, your partner was thinking, “Great!  Now we can fix this thing and get on with our lives!”  Maybe you were too!

Linda Walker, whose husband was diagnosed with ADHD only after their daughter’s ADHD was recognized in school, was at her wits end when she learned her husband also had ADHD!  As Linda explains, “Once we discovered ADHD wasn’t something you could cure, that it was genetic and permanent, I was devastated!  It felt like a life sentence… I was condemned to “taking care of” my ADHD spouse, being the responsible one, the only adult in the family!

In this session, now-ADHD Coach Linda Walker and her husband of 28 years, Duane Gordon, successful artist and ADHD poster-child, share some of their secrets for surviving adult ADHD and creating a thriving relationship.  It is possible to transform a “life sentence” into a lifelong commitment.

Adult ADHD:  Create Time to Succeed

Catch-22 was a great novel, but it sucks when it’s your life.  You desperately want to improve your productivity, but you don’t have time to learn how.  Adult ADHD has turned your life into perpetual chaos and confusion.  Not a minute to spare and yet you’re never caught up!  You need to learn new self-management strategies and skills so you can impose order in the chaos, take charge of your own life and master your ADHD, but to do that, you need to make time in a filled-to-overflowing schedule. Catch-22!

Duane Gordon, ADHD Coach Linda Walker’s husband had hit rock bottom.  Demoted and threatened with dismissal, he had to do something, but what?  In their first session, Duane’s ADHD coach pointed out that he was trying to fit about 220 hours of activity in an average week (and that’s before sleep!)

After saving his job (and earning a promotion to vice-president), he went on to pursue his dream of being an artist, which he had abandoned many years earlier as he struggled to meet the demands of college and his career.  In this session, Duane, Linda’s Maximum Productivity Makeover co-developer and guinea pig, shares strategies and techniques he used to create time in an overloaded schedule to master his ADHD and take charge of his life.

To register, visit The Maximum Productivity Makeover for Creative Geniuses Website.

ADHD and Goals: Forest vs. Trees!

Click Here to Listen to the Audio Recording

You’ve heard the expression, “You can’t see the forest for the trees?”  Some people get bogged down in details, focusing on the “trees” and losing sight of the bigger picture, the “forest.  But this is rarely an ADHD trait.

“Forest” Thinkers

I’ve long remarked that most adults with ADHD are “forest”, or “big picture” thinkers.  You are visionary, with an ability to clearly see your dreams and what they’ll look like and what it’ll be like when you experience your dreams realized.  (Some of you may have lost this ability, or rather, you’ve lost the desire to indulge in your ability to imagine a fantastic future because repeated failure has beaten down your motivation and your belief in the possibility of a better future, but you likely still have that ability, and you can recover.)

A clear vision is very powerful for staying motivated, even against great odds and obstacles.  It’s also essential when leading others.  A clear and exciting vision and the passion and talent to share that with others is powerful for motivating others to join you in achieving your dream.  That’s why many ADHD adults become successful entrepreneurs.

One of the frequent challenges faced by visionaries, however, is that you might never make progress toward realizing your vision.  It’s not much help to have a great dream if you never make it out of the starting gate.  Goals must be set and steps must be taken.  (It’s a lovely forest, but you’ve still got to deal with those trees!)

“Tree” Thinkers

If you’re not a big picture thinker, you usually think of goals in concrete steps.  When you have a dream, you think, not of the big picture, but of the goals or steps you’ll need to take to realize your dream.  “Tree” or concrete step thinkers are more likely to take action than big picture thinkers, especially when something is new, difficult or complicated.  However, if (or should I say when, since you surely will face challenges when you have big dreams and ambitious goals), you hit a snag, you are more likely to lose your motivation.

If every time you deal with a tree, you’re faced with another tree, it’s easy to forget, not only about the forest, but about the beautiful cabin by the pristine lake waiting for you on the other side of that forest.

The Best Approach

The best approach to reaching ambitious goals according to research is a combined approach of the big picture view to motivate you and others with a step-by-step process to getting there. When I read about this research recently, it confirmed what we have been preaching for six years in Succeed in a FLASH, one of the six modules of The Maximum Productivity Makeover. Of course, we don’t just recommend it, we coach you into adopting both approaches.

Adults with ADHD often struggle to shift back and forth between the two approaches.  Many prefer the “forest” approach, while others, having experienced numerous failures, get stuck in the “trees”, constantly analyzing each step and ruminating over everything that could possibly go wrong.  Neither makes much progress.  How can you, an adult with ADHD successfully combine the two?

What Can You Do?

If you’re a tree thinker, sit down and imagine what things will be like when your dream is realized.  What will you see? How will you feel? Engage all your senses… If it’s relevant, imagine even what you will smell.  How will your life be different once you’ve achieved this goal?  In other words, why is this important to you?  Once you’ve created a clear picture in your mind’s eye of the successful outcome, create a way to revisit this regularly.  You can create a vision board, find a song that represents for you the way you feel when you’ve reached your goal and play that song to recreate the feeling of success or write a newspaper article announcing your success as if it had already happened.

If you’re lost in the forest, you’re motivated, but not making any progress toward your goals.  Determine a few steps, or even just one, that will allow you to make progress toward the realization of your dream.  Notice that I did not say, “the next step” because often, the order in which you do things is less important than just making progress.  Make a regular appointment with yourself to plan another step.  What’s another step you could take?

Taking Charge Creates Ripples

for Audio, click here

Recently, I met someone for the first time, and as usual, I explained that I was a coach working with adults with ADHD. As happens so often (far more often that simple coincidence would account for, I’m convinced, but that’s another story!), he declared that he’d been diagnosed with ADHD. His biggest issue, he mentioned, was that he found it impossible to stick with any routine. He felt he simply didn’t have the necessary self-control.

Take Charge With Self-Control

I smiled, although somewhat sadly. His response, and his evaluation of his own abilities, is one I hear frequently. It can be hard for anyone to set and achieve goals, but one of the ways to make it easier is to create a structure using habits and routines that help you achieve goals almost on autopilot. If you’re convinced you don’t have the self-control necessary to create habits or to stick to routines, it becomes far more difficult to achieve your goals and realize your dreams.

You Think You Have No Self-Control

Recently, I had two participants in my group coaching program, each of whom swore they had never been successful reaching goals because they had no self-control. They both felt powerless, resigned and completely at the mercy of their adult ADHD. If you have no self-control, how can you take charge of your life? Without self-control, you must be at the mercy of some outside controlling force, and in this case, they were turning that power over to their ADHD.

However, just as people have varying degrees of strength, there’s no one who doesn’t have any muscles. Some people have a naturally larger body frame and so are stronger initially, but regardless of your size, you have muscles, and a lack of strength does not mean you’re destined to always be weak. No matter how strong you are when you start, you can train and exercise your muscles and grow stronger. With the proper training, you can grow to be immensely strong.

There’s Some Good News

There’s some very good news about self-control. Research shows that self-control can be exercised and strengthened. Regardless of how much (or little) self-control you feel you have, you can train yourself to have better self-control. Some people may wonder why they would want to improve their self-control through training and exercises, but your level of self-control affects your level of success in your career, your relationships, your finances and your environment (would you like to live in a clutter-free home). Working out will build your muscles, but not everyone is interested in becoming a bodybuilder. However, building your strength will also let you lift your child in your arms, load your luggage in your car to head off on an adventure or move the couch to find the TV remote! So if you want to take charge of your life, you WILL need to develop your self-control.

And There’s Even Better News

The even better news about self-control is that just as working out in the gym to improve your strength has positive repercussions throughout your life, develop self-control in one area of your life and it will spill over into other areas. If you choose, for example, to abstain from eating sweets for a period of time, you’ll soon find you’ll begin to exercise more self-control in other aspects of your life as well. In his research on the effect of self-control training on overall self-control performance, psychologist Mark Muraven discovered that after two weeks of strengthening willpower (by abstaining from eating sweets or performing a challenging hand exercise), participants also tested higher in a difficult concentration task that required a large amount of self-control. Other studies show that starting and sticking with an exercise routine can help you improve your finances, your focus, control your temper, reduce clutter and more.

Look for Opportunities Instead of Problems

So, rather than focusing on the areas of your life where you lack self-control, consider where you do have self-control. We all have habits and routines (and they’re not all bad!), just as we all have muscles. Take charge of any aspect of your life that you can. Practicing self-control will build those muscles and you’ll soon be able to apply your new-found strength to other areas of your life, areas where, in the past, you may have felt completely out of control. You might just be surprised where the ripples spread.

Enjoy the Ripples!

Remember those two Maximum Productivity Makeover participants who swore they would never be able to get into a routine? Though they started small, as they worked through the program, they were able to successfully introduce routines in their lives. Building on that success, it wasn’t long before they also noticed that they were able to greatly improve their time management skills and have a significant positive impact on their performance at work. They’re enjoying the ripple-effect of taking charge of their lives, and you can too!

What You Can Do:
1. Work your self-control muscle by taking on a challenge that requires you to do something you’d rather not do. For example, cut out sweets, sit up straight, take the stairs, or whatever you choose that’s a little outside your comfort zone.

2. Plan for how you’ll deal with those times when you feel you want to give in, give up or just not bother. When Duane quit smoking, every time he felt like having a cigarette, he kissed me instead. I always made sure to comment on how nice it was to kiss him without his breath smelling like an ashtray.

3. Give yourself a self-control break. After challenging yourself, you sometimes feel depleted, so don’t try to do too much at once. Give yourself a chance to bounce back.

4. So now, go ahead and take charge!

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