It’s Like Déjà Vu All Over Again

by Linda Walker

As another February started, I was reminded how often adults with ADHD relive the same old challenges they’ve been dealing with all their ADHD lives. It’s as if you keep replaying the actions, hoping the outcome will be different each time.

But now that Groundhog Day is over, why are you continuing to relive the same challenges? If this sounds like you, it may be that you feel as if you’re stuck and not making any progress. Of course, if all you’ve been doing is replaying the scene over and over in the same way, and of course, achieving the same unwanted results, you are stuck!

Though maybe today is the day you realize that if you want a different outcome, you need to change some things. If you’re ready to make that change, where do you start?
Many ADHDers and other creative geniuses struggle with managing everyday life.

How often do you rush out the door at the last minute for an important appointment then berate yourself or scream at the drivers around you who seem to be slowing you down? How often have you looked for your keys, your wallet, your bus pass? How often have you promised to buckle down and get work done in your business but found yourself watching cat videos on YouTube for an hour instead?

Each time you mess up, you vow to never repeat the mistake again. Yet the next day, you find yourself doing it again. Each time you repeat the same mistake, you berate yourself for your lack of discipline. Every time you repeat this same cycle, you are eroding your self-confidence, convincing yourself that if only you had more willpower, you could change. Soon, you believe that you are simply flawed, you don’t have as much willpower as other people, and therefore you’ll never be able to change.
This is simply not true. You’re reliving the same problems, not because you lack self-discipline, but because you lack a plan to solve the problem at the source. And it’s not a lack of willpower that’s at the source.
How would you like to live a new life adventure, one where you’ve got your sh**t together?

Here’s a strategy to do that: As my husband always says:

“Don’t solve the problem once, solve the problem once and for all.”

The first step to doing that is to set aside time to think about the problem.

Consider the steps you take to get the current result – otherwise known as the routine. You accomplish your current results by following a series of actions, and those actions are the same each time. Next look at the results you want and compare them to the results you’re getting – what is the gap? How close, or how far, are you to achieving the results you want?

Determine the source of the problem

Why are you always leaving at the last minute? Are you getting up too late? Are you getting involved in something in the morning and losing track of time? Are you looking for something to wear? Are you spending too long singing in the shower, practicing to get on The Voice?

Identify a solution you want to adopt

As a result of your analysis, you determine you’re checking your emails and spending too long answering them. What’s the solution? You could decide not to open emails in the morning or set a timer to limit the time you spend on them and only scan for and respond to urgent emails. You could get up earlier.

Put it in writing

Next, write down what you’ve chosen to do because there’s a good chance you’ll forget. You could create a notebook in Evernote and create a note. Include a trigger to use to remind you of your new plan. It could be a paper or electronic post-it note that pops up when you turn on your computer, or a visual cue you leave on top of your computer – a troll doll or other small figurine, for example – or have someone remind you – although I am not a fan of deferring your responsibilities onto others because when they mess up, you end up playing the very unproductive blame game.

Make changes where needed

Next, test your plan: Take some time at the end of the day to determine how well it worked and tweak as needed, then test it again.



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2 thoughts on “It’s Like Déjà Vu All Over Again”

  1. Hi Linda:
    I received this e-mail just at the perfect time. I too use my SAD lamp daily and when I do not get the chance I feel the difference. Thank you for this information. It comes at a time in my life where I am trying desperately to declutter my house to move in a few years. I met you about 5 years ago at the Adult ADHD conference in Detroit. I was there with my husband and son who was 18 at the time. The conference was an awakening for me. I went home after and had myself tested. Of course deep down I already knew that I too had ADHD as my husband, son and daughter do too. I guess the resilience part of having ADHD got me through the death of my husband the year after that conference. However, decluttering is such an issue for me especially when it comes to his stuff that I still have after him being gone almost four years. I just need a buddy to be here and hold me accountable. Hopefully I will find one soon. Thank you again for this information and the opportunity to vent.

    1. Hi Maxine,

      I’m so sorry for your lost. For the decluttering, you could look into a professional organizer who specializes in ADHD adults to help you; or elicit the help of a friend. Is there still some emotional attachment involved, or is the just the idea of decluttering that has you overwhelmed? If it’s the latter, the best advices I can give you are:
      1) Pick a specific room, a specific part of the room (for example, the corner of the room) to work on in one sitting. It should require more than 1 hour’s work at a time. If you make it into a “YUCK” task, you’ll never return;

      2) Decide what different ways things will be managed: decide between putting each item in either a give pile, a recycle/sell pile, a garbage bag, a keep pile and a “I can’t decide yet” pile.

      3) Set a timer for 20 or 30 minutes and get started. Play a game – see how fast you can get through the corner of the pile you can get through in 30 minutes. Put on some bopping music and go for it.

      4) After that time is complete, stop, do a “happy dance”, give yourself a “high-5” to celebrate your accomplishment. Get rid of the garbage right away. Then take a well-deserved break.

      5) Then decide if you want to go at it another try. If not, put the recycling pile in the recycle bin, and put the give pile in a box addressed to the person/or organization who will receive it. Put the “keep” pile away where it’s supposed to go. As for the “Can’t decide pile”, if you have enough energy, go through it quickly – if you’re conflicted because it’s something that has sentimental value keep it or take a picture that you frame, then sell or give it away.

      This is not something that you can do in a day or weekend, certainly not without help.

      I wish you courage and a wonderfully decluttered house.

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