Four Secrets for Making a Dream Come True

You can travel to Italy… or wherever you want to go… or to make any other dream you can imagine come true.

My husband, Duane and I have been in Rome for almost two weeks of our four-week trip we’re taking to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.  This is a dream come true, and what’s even more amazing is that we’re doing it all without borrowing any money.  Nope, we won’t even have a big credit card bill greeting us when we get home.

Let me share some of the secrets that allowed us to take a pain-free, debt-free one-month trip to Italy:

We used delayed gratification.  Two years ago we decided we wanted to do something special for our 25th anniversary and chose to travel to Italy, home of some of the most amazing art in the world (Duane is an artist and has always wanted to see Michelangelo’s work firsthand).  In the past, Duane, an impulsive ADHDer, would have called a travel agent, booked our flights and figured out the rest later.  We’ve learned that this is the hard way of doing things, after all, how can you enjoy a trip that is sinking you deeper in debt?

Instead, using the wisdom acquired from past mistakes, we estimated how much it would cost for such a trip in May 2009, and began to plan what it would take – knowledge, money, paperwork, and reservations – to actually make a month-long trip to Italy.  It was quite a stretch for us and we wondered if it would be possible.

We created a plan.  We began by identifying two or three steps we could take that would bring us closer to our dream.  We looked at our options for travel and accommodations.  We listed all the things we wanted to see. We started to figure out the financial requirements and did research.  The more we learned, the more steps we could add to our plan, and sometimes we discovered we had to go back and make changes to our plan, but that was easy to fix, and it wasn’t stressful as we knew we had plenty of time to adjust.  Too often, people put off taking any action until they have all the information, but if we had made that mistake, we never would have made this trip.

We fed our dream.  It’s difficult for any ADHDer to maintain focus on some far-off objective, and Duane struggled to remain motivated without impulsively booking the trip right away.  We allowed ourselves some instant gratification in seeking out art and travel information about Italy.  We borrowed books from the library and purchased others, regularly consulting books, maps and pictures of Italy to make the dream more real.  Duane consulted art books to map out what he’d go see first hand when we finally made it to Rome and Florence. We planned, discussed, and dreamed about Italy for two years. This allowed us to remain motivated and made us far better prepared for the trip when it was time.  It was also a lot of fun!

We created a system. Duane’s standard approach to taking a vacation was to go; he’d run up the credit card bills and then deal with the fall-out upon his return.  Sometimes it would be several years between vacations as we scrimped and saved to pay down the debt, and I’d be stressed during the vacation watching the charges mount, and we’d all be stressed when we arrived home, knowing the huge bill that was waiting.

We wanted this trip to be different, so even though it was the biggest trip we’d ever taken, we developed a plan and created a system to accumulate the required funds BEFORE we left. We opened a bank account and set up automatic monthly deposits. At first, we felt the pinch of the diverted funds but very quickly adjusted our lifestyle and avoided over spending. We changed our credit card to one that provided travel points and carefully managed our spending so that the majority of our purchases went on the credit card to accumulate points but was completely paid off each month.

For extras on the trip, Duane even started to accumulate his loose change.  Each day he would carefully hide away whatever change was in his pocket.  We weren’t counting on this money, but small efforts really can add up – over the course of two years, he accumulated $2,160 in loose change, a very nice bonus.  You should have seen the teller when we staggered into the bank with his load of change!

I’m writing this article, sitting in my apartment in Rome.  We’re taking the day off from sightseeing because we just spent three glorious days exploring every nook and cranny of Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, and the only stress I feel right now is whether we should go to Venice this weekend, or if it would be less crowded if we waited until after the weekend.  Does that sound like a dream to you?  It did to us, and we made it come true.  What dream will you make come true?

Arrivaderci from Rome!

Who Are You Not To Be Great?

Years ago, in a speech, Nelson Mandela quoted Marianne Williamson, “Your playing small does not serve the world.  Who are you not to be great?”achieveyourgoals-flashcourse-logo

As I read this, I realized that I do sometimes play small, not allowing myself to be as successful as I can be.  What is playing small?  It’s easiest to define by considering the opposite: “Playing Big.”

For me, “Playing Big” means developing my strengths so my life’s work transforms the world in a positive way.  It means using my strengths, empathy, passion and connectedness, to bring a community of adults with ADHD not merely overcome inattention, procrastination, disorganization and other ADHD challenges, but to help them move beyond “overcoming” to tap into their true gifts so that they too can affect the world positively.  It also means to be financially successful so I can continue my life’s work and be a model for others.

Helping my clients “Play Big” also means not accepting their excuses for playing small or, worse, not playing at all.  Playing Big requires that you face your fears about failure… or about success… and not allowing anything to stop you… not ADHD, not money, not fear, not anything!

How have you been playing small lately?  What will it take to move to your Big Game?  Because…

Who are you not to be great?

Stop Trying to Do What You Can’t

Often, someone else says something you wish you’d said, or (as in this case) you’ve been saying for a long time, but they say it in a way you wish you’d said it.

This happened to me today. I was reading yesterday’s CopyBlogger issue, “how 2 blog if u suk at writin.”  It’s an excellent article for you entrepreneurs out there who have been hesitant about blogging even though you know it would be enormously beneficial for your marketing efforts, but….

This tip really jumped off the page (screen) for me! I hope the message comes through loud and clear for you too! As an adult with ADHD, your life will be so much better if you take this message to heart:

“Attempting to do what you can’t will only frustrate you. I speak from experience. When I was a child, I wanted nothing more than to be the next Bruce Lee. I read every book I could find on every style of martial arts. I attended every school within a 50 mile radius. I went to expensive seminars from renowned fighters. I was bound and determined to be able to kick anyone’s ass.

But I was in a wheelchair. Worse, I had (and still have) a disease that caused me to become progressively weaker, eventually losing the use of my arms altogether. Pursuing martial arts was the sort of hopeful foolishness that only a child can muster, and it led me to oceans of frustration. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how much I wanted it, I would never become the next Bruce Lee.

Eventually, I wised up and put all of that energy into mastering the use of words instead, and after about 10 years of studying every aspect of writing and practicing it on a daily basis, I’m finally getting pretty good it. I still can’t kick your ass, but I can probably persuade someone to kick your ass for me. Not quite as satisfying, maybe, but it’ll do.”

Thanks to Jon Morrow, the Associate Editor of Copyblogger and co-founder of Partnering Profits.

ADHDers can kick butt!  If you do it in a round about way, you’re still kicking butt. So stop worrying about what you can’t do, and stop worrying about the things you can do but not exactly like everyone else, and focus all your energy into making the most of YOUR superpower. Yeah, you’ve got one, If you think you don’t, some more exploring is in order.

Linda Walker empowers entrepreneurs, artists, authors, adults with ADHD and other creative geniuses to unleash their superpowers.  You’ll really kick butt once you break free of everyone else’s rules. Discover 10 misconceptions that are putting the brakes on your performance at www.productivitymythsbusted.com.

Manage your Finances Without a Budget

Most personal finance gurus insist that to take charge of your financial health, you need to create and stick to a budget.  For most creative geniuses, especially those with ADHD, a budget is BOOORINGGGGG and so all but impossible.

Because even if you believe a budget is essential, you’re not likely to be able to prepare one, or follow it… remember, it’s boooringggg!  Boring things don’t stimulate your brain.  Trying to focus on tasks such as preparing a budget when you’re brain isn’t stimulated is about as easy as driving your car around the block when you can’t get the engine started.

No wonder creative geniuses, with or without ADHD, suffer financially far more than the “neurotypical” population.  But you’re not doomed to financial hardship, bankruptcy or a retirement age of 97!  You just need a different, non-budgeting, approach to managing your financial health… an approach that isn’t boring.  (No, not gambling!)

What worked for Duane and me – and believe me, if it worked for us, it can work for anyone – was to stop trying to manage our money the traditional way (and failing miserably!) and adopt ADHD-friendly ways to organize our finances.  It all started with a three-step process:

1. We took our financial pulse – it wasn’t pretty, but knew how deep a hole we were in (and it was deep!)
2. We figured out where we wanted to be by deciding what was important to us, and what really wasn’t.
3. We started looking for money “hidden in the sofa cushions.”  No, not really, but by being aware of the money our poor choices were robbing from us, we were able to start getting out of debt (instead of getting in deeper every month!) using the money we were already earning!

Already, I was thrilled, and that was just the beginning!  In a couple of days I’ll tell you how we went from having 17 maxed out credit cards, no savings and an old rusted car that we owed five thousand dollars on, to being debt-free (except for a small reasonable mortgage), with a nice home, retirement savings.  On top of that, we purchased a new car for cash, and this spring we’re going on a one-month vacation to Italy this year.

 

Adult ADHD : From Curse to Gift

I keep reading discussions around the question of whether ADHD is a curse or a gift. Most ADHDers are divided on this. As an ADHD Coach, spouse and mother of ADHDers, I have seen ADHD in both ends of the spectrum.

On one hand my ADHD adults struggle to keep their jobs, keep a happy marriage, stay financially afloat. Many are overwhelmed, distracted, disorganized and have self-esteem issues. When you find yourself stuck in the negative aspects of ADHD, it’s understandable that you could see it as a curse.

On the other hand, others who see it as a gift usually excel in their jobs, or create a business they’re passionate about, keep the spice in their relationships, and are financially in control, to name a few. They tend to have a more positive outlook on life.

What’s the gap between these two realities? How do you close it?

The difference is that those who thrive with adult ADHD stay open to change and invest in improving their lives. They use their assets, such as their strengths, talents, energy, out-of-the-box thinking and risk-taking abilities and adopt ADHD-friendly ways to live. They change what they can and accept what they can’t.

Want to close the gap?

Join me for Get Your Year in Gear for ADHD Adults, a free teleclass, tonight, Monday, January 19th at 8 pm ET. We’ll discuss how you can close the gap. Register at http://tinyurl.com/adhdgift

Time to Celebrate… You

 
celebrate**With so many of us busy all year, the holidays allow us to wind down a bit and to hopefully take time to appreciate our loved ones. As the holidays get underway, your time and energy are probably focused on celebrating with your families.

An invitation

I’d like to invite to take some time to celebrate something else… your achievements this year. Every year end I take stock of what I’ve accomplished. Many adults with ADHD take little or no time to celebrate their accomplishments for two reasons:

  1. Once a project is completed, they set their sights on the next one, completely forgetting what they’ve managed to do.
  2. Many ADHDers don’t think that what they’ve achieved merits celebration because they feel that if they managed to get it done, it must be very easy to do, so their is no reason to celebrate.

 
I disagree. First, any project that you complete, despite our crazy busy lives is an accomplishment. In addition, when you take time to review your year you can better identify what you’ve learned as you accomplished them and you can use these successes as springboards for future projects.

Taking stock

If you’ve never done this before, here’s how you can get started:
Go back in your agenda and identify the different projects you’ve worked on. Write them down in your journal. Then answer the following questions: 

  • What did it take for me to complete this?
  • What have I learned in the process?
  • What have I learned about myself?
  • How can I use this in future projects?

Then celebrate with yourself. Be grateful for the opportunity and for the resources you were given to achieve these. Better still, celebrate with others.

So what achievement will you celebrate? Feel free to post them here. We’d love to celebrate with you.

Every Journey Starts With a Single Step: Layered Learning

 

learning, baby steps, adhd adults, beat procrastinationWhile each of us has dreams and ambitions, it’s only those of us who really try to achieve our goals who will ever accomplish them. For those with adult ADHD, with unique brain wiring and experiences, the feat of achieving a goal is sometimes over before it even begins. ADHD adults are so used to being singled out; being told “you did it wrong”, that they develop a fear of even trying. Thus ADHD adults often feel that if they are going to try something new, they have to be an expert, before they can even begin. They get into analysis paralysis or perfectionism, which most often leads them to give up before even taking that first step.

Take a first step even before you know everything there is about what you are trying to achieve. If instead of waiting until you are an expert, you took a first baby step, you would find that in the action you took there was something you learned, even if that action wasn’t successful. Take losing weight for example. You don’t necessarily need to plan your menu for the next month, calculate the number of calories you’re eating, or join a gym. All you need is to identify one single step you know you could take that could take you in the right direction.

You might consider walking up the stairs instead of taking the elevator or getting off a stop earlier to walk to work. You might select a lower-calorie version of one staple in your diet, like switching to a lower calorie margarine or salad dressing. Once you make that change and it becomes comfortable, you add a new baby step, like filling up on water instead of on junk food between meals. Baby steps are more comfortable to make and allow you to adjust accordingly. If you find that you don’t like the new margarine you chose, try another one until you find something that you can live with.

Imagine if, as babies, you decided not to attempt to walk until you knew for sure that you could get up and walk without falling. You never would have built the courage, muscles and balance you needed to walk. Learning is about taking a series of baby steps. From getting up, to falling, to standing up while holding onto a table, to standing without help, to taking your first steps and eventually running; every one of these actions provided learning and allowed you to adjust so that next time you could do better.

If for every big dream or goal you wanted to achieve, you decided to take a first manageable step before you had learned everything there was, you’d be more likely to move forward and learn something in the process. Yes, there are chances that the first step you take will lead to failure, but I’d like to challenge you to see failures as learning experiences. Ask yourself each time you think you’ve failed, “what have I learned from this experience?” and “how can I use what I learned to take future steps?” Shift your beliefs around mistakes and consider that each one is a learning experience that brings you closer to your goal. And remember the ancient Japanese proverb that says that The journey of 1000 miles begins with the first step.

Who’s on for this challenge? What is your goal? What first baby step will you take towards it?

Effects of Positive Attitude on ADHD

 

adhd adult,positive attitudeAs an ADHD Coach, I know the powerful effect of positive attitude on ADHD clients. When my clients have a more positive attitude and live in more positive environments they tend to achieve more at a much faster rate than my clients who tend to ruminate or who are surrounded by very negative people. A session I attented at the International Coach Federation conference that united 1400 coaches from 26 countries around the world to learn, network, and be inspired.
Your thoughts affect others

However, Mr. Worth demonstrated that people around us have positive or negative effects on our energy, when he whispered to a woman on stage to think hateful and negative throughts about another woman on the other end of the stage.

When the first subject had negative thougths about the second woman, not only did her magnetic field disappear, but so did that of the object of the negative thougths.

On the other hand, when the first subject had thoughts that were highly positive about the other person, both she and the object of her thoughts saw their magnetic fields grow beyond their original neutral fields.

Anyone who know me, knows that I am a very down-to-earth person who is not easily convinced by all things esoterical. However, what I witnessed was quite convincing. It got me thinking about the repercussions of our thoughts, and particularly the effects of a positive attitude on ADHD clients, who often live very negative experiences.

The implications of positive attitude on ADHD

  1. When you choose to see the positive things in life, you emit a larger magnetic field, which tends to attract more people;
  2. Conversely, when you choose to spend your energy on negative thougths, reliving negative situations, not only does your energy drop, so does your attractiveness;
  3. Who you choose in your circle of friends and those closest to you have an impact on your own energy levels, unless you become adept at building a shield to protect yourself against negative thoughts.

What can you do to attract positive things in your life

Of course, there are things you can do to improve your energy and your level of attractiveness:

  1. Use a gratitude journal – spend time each day reflecting on and writing down at least 3 things you are grateful for today.
  2. Choose to feed your optimism by:
    • Focusing on what pleases you immensely;
    • Focusing on solutions rather and problems;
    • Distributing happiness
    • Focusing on growth
    • Taking time to celebrate
  3. Kill your negative thoughts by
    • Being aware of and controlling your internal dialogue
    • Neutralizing negative moments

Of course, the effect of the size of our magnetic fields is not all together clear; however, it makes sense that having a greater magnetic field attracts more positive in our lives.

 We emit a magnetic field

One session I found very revealing helped explain the effect of positive attitude on our own energy levels. Christian Worth, a coach from France, demonstrated with dowsing rods how each of us emits an energy field. This makes sense as our bodies use electricity fueled by chemical reactions in our cells to live, more, think. And where there is electricity, there is a magnetic field created.The magnetic field we emit various at around 3 to 5 feet in radius when we are in a “neutral thougth pattern”, that is neither thinking positively nor negatively.

Work With Your ADHD, Not Against It

While you may think that ADHD creates a disadvantage for you in the business world, there are strategies you can employ to take advantage of the symptoms of ADHD. In doing so, you may find you’ll become just as productive (and maybe even slightly more productive) than your non-ADHD counterparts.

You, like non-ADHDers, have cycles of energy throughout your day. This, of course, means that at certain times your energy levels will be low and you will feel drained and sluggish. The difference between you and a non-ADHDer is that they can trudge their way through those periods of low energy to maintain adequate productivity levels, whereas you likely find it impossible to be creative, effective, or efficient during these times, and difficult to tackle even less challenging tasks. At other times you are full of energy and feel great, as if you can accomplish anything! In fact, at these times you may feel as though you’ve achieved a state of hyperfocus, and you may find it difficult to “unfocus” yourself.

The good news is that, contrary to common wisdom, there is no need to fight these cycles. Although your ADHD brain works differently than most, you can use these differences to your advantage. It’s simply a matter of working smarter, not harder. Since your peaks are higher than average, you can use your energy to accomplish far more than most people can. On the other hand, there are ADHD-friendly ways of maintaining your productivity even during low-energy periods, simply by selecting the right tasks, or molding the tasks to permit you to accomplish them even during down times.

Most people try to squeeze more actions into their day to increase their productivity. Since there are only 24 hours in a day, after a point, it’s simply not possible. You’ll fall behind. By learning to recognize these high and low energy cycles, and by using them to your benefit, you will be able to accomplish more throughout your day, using less time and less energy. Match the tasks that require the most energy output with the times when you have the greatest energy. Use your lower energy times to work on simpler, more habitual tasks; tasks that require very little energy.

It really is that simple. Don’t fight your brain’s natural inclinations. Listen to your body and learn to recognize your energy cycles. Soon, you will be using your time productively without fighting to accomplish tasks that don’t match your energy levels.

How to tell my employer I have ADHD – Part 2

In Part One of this topic I discussed what you need to consider before you even consider mentioning your ADHD status to your employer. In this part, I’ll provide some ideas on how to go about it once you have made the decision to tell your employer.   

Before saying anything, you need to answer a few questions for yourself:

  1. What are my strengths?
    We all have them so dig deep
  2. How is it helping me?
    One client told me that she had a lot of energy and her out-of-the box thinking heloped her solve problems more easily. Another who was a salesman found that clients liked to work with him because he always seemed to be “on the ball”. Another who was a social worker felt that she was better able to empathize with her clients
  3. How is my ADHD hindering me at work?
    Difficulty with concentrating, with organizing, excessive perfectionism…
  4. What is the specific problem I want help with?
    Can’t concentrate because of noise or traffic, difficulty getting organized so often looking for things, difficulty with constant distractions of email and phone, can’t seem to organize time well, etc.
  5. What solutions do I want to propose?
    Will this solution help or should you consider a different career? What is the cost to the employer? Where can it be found?
  6. How can your employer help?
    Do you need your employer to help defray the cost of coaching, provide you with an accommodation, change something in the way he or she works with you?
  7. What’s in it for my employer? Why would your employer help you? What does your company stand to gain from reducing or eliminating your problem?

In most cases of course when your employer provides help, he or she ends up with a more productive employee; however, what is the benefit? Will you be able to get more done? Will you improve your sales? Will the quality of your work improve? It can also be an opportunity to solve a problem, or improve the way the company does things. For example, one client who got help with his productivity, was able to help other colleagues, non-ADHDers, also improve theirs.

Then prepare to meet your employer privately to discuss an issue you need help with. Here’s a sample script to inspire you:
 
“I was recently diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, which is a neurological difference that. I find it helps me with my job because ADHD advantage as per question 2. “

“However, I am struggling with specific hinderance as per question 3 and it’s making it hard to be as productive as I think I could be.”

“I looked into it and found this solution as per question 5 that can help me solve the specific problem as per question 4.”

“I feel that with your help with answer to question 6 , I can really answer to question 7  I’m willing to do the work that it takes to make this solution work for me; however, I need help to access it.” 

 

 It will really help to know your strengths to give you confidence when you see your employer. Be prepared to offer information on the solution you are proposing so that you don’t have to run after him or her a second time.

It might help you know that in the survey I did last year, of the 50% of ADHDers who told their employers they had ADHD and needed help, 50% of them got the help they needed. I’m also finding that with the labor market where there is higher demand than there is supply, especially for specialized labor, many employers are becoming more open to the idea of helping good employees become even better.
Certainly, I will not tell you that there is no risk. While there may be some legal protection in some parts of the world, there is still a risk that you can be treated unfairly. My biggest hope is that one day, the fog around what is ADHD and does it exist will lift; and you won’t have to fear repercussions in “coming out”.