This week while coaching one of my Maximum Productivity Makeover groups, one participant mentioned that she felt ashamed that she had not completed something she had committed to the previous session. It is common for adults with ADHD to feel this way. After all, they have been punished, embarrassed, and put down for making mistakes all their lives. They’ve been subjected to this for so long that they’ve now taken over the job and beat up on themselves!
I would like to propose a different option: pretend you’re a GPS, just say, “Recalculating!” When you’ve made a commitment and have tried your absolute best (and remember that your best is “everything possible given what you knew at the time”) but you just weren’t able to pull it off, there is no shame in failing. Instead of putting yourself down, consider what you have to learn. Examine what went wrong; maybe you need a new system or you tried to tackle more than you could handle. Whatever it is, you gain nothing from throwing your hands up in defeat, hanging your head in shame, or resorting to blame and finger-pointing.
If instead, when you get lost you react like your GPS does, and “recalculate”, that is, allow your “mistake” or missed goal to become an opportunity to learn and to readjust how you do things, you need never feel that shame again.
This is not to say that you shouldn’t keep your promises and honor your commitments. Instead, adopt a new “learning approach” to making mistakes. Ask yourself, “What have I learned from this experience?”, “How can I make this work next time?”, “What do I need to do before I attempt this?” and “Do I need some help?”
And then simply recalculate… uh, recommit.