Setting Goals When You Have ADHD
Whew. Let's take a second and take a deep breath; I know how overwhelming setting goals can be.
"What if I try and I don't succeed?"
"It's so easy for "normal" people."
"It's going to take so much effort."
"It's SO boring!"
Setting goals is tough - especially when we have those pesky thoughts in our head adding yet another mountain to climb over! I'm here to tell you that setting goals IS possible and I'll tell you how!
My personal experience with goal setting
Before I dive in and tell you all the juicy details on how to set goals let me explain to you what my personal experience is with setting goals and how I've come up with this idea!
As you may already know, I have been working on building my coaching business! Back in March, I decided it would be a good idea to set a professional goal for myself to ensure I was moving forward:
1 new client a week for the month (4 new clients for the month of March).
What do you think happened?! I poured all of my energy and love into building my business and gaining new clients and I did not get a single new client. I became bitter, annoyed and started to negatively compare myself to those who were doing well. I started to tell myself that I must not be a good coach because if I was then why wasn't I getting any new clients?
Life continued on, new clients rolled in, and I realized that my goal was so rigid and didn't reflect who I am as a person. When that goal was in the back of my mind I looked at every interaction as a new potential client and would constantly ask myself how I could reach my goal of another client. What a mistake!! I felt so fake and this whole goal setting method did not work for me! Also, new clients is my goal regardless of if I set it or not. It's a pretty redundant goal if I'm being honest.
Fast forward a few months, I was browsing through Instagram one day and came across Reset ADHD's story. He was saying how he was going to reward himself with hockey tickets when he reached a certain amount of new clients. An alert went off in my brain because setting a goal of reaching a certain amount of clients in a certain amount time does not work for me! That said, I was still inspired to give myself something tangible to work towards. I decided to create a "plant seeds" jar!
Here is a video explaining what I came up with:
Here are the bits to setting goals that will make you UNSTOPPABLE! - Look out world, here you come!
Decide what your goal is!
Break your goals down - Break it down, break it down, and then break it down some more!! "What is involved in reaching this goal?" --> Each time you break the goal down, ask yourself: "How can I break this goal down even more?" --> Voila! Each time you break the goal down you have a new action step!
Ask for help and delegate whenever possible!
Find someone who is doing what you want to do and ask if they will be your mentor.
Set yourself up for success. Here is a little trade secret: find out how you have succeeded in the past and emulate the way that you got there in your new goal.
Make your goals realistic. I'm going to say that again: make your goals realistic!! I see it time and time again in my clients where they want to make a positive change (more like 10 positive changes) and they want it done all at the same time and they want it done yesterday! This is not realistic and you are not setting yourself up for success.
Reward yourself! We are very good at forgetting that we have accomplished a HUGE WIN. We have the mentality of "okay, what's next"? Don't forget to take the time and let your wins sink in! Scheduling a reward before you accomplish a goal is a great way to do that!
Success Journal A success journal can help with remembering all that you have accomplished. It also helps in proving to yourself all that you have completed!
8. Growth + positive mindset - Positive mindset is extremely important! I have watched my clients body language completely change once we reach the part in our session where we discuss what is going to get in their way of their actions steps + reaching their goals. They can get completely excited about their new goal and I can slowly see the negative thoughts bring them down. You have been warned...come to the battle prepared! You are going to need your positive armour to battle those negative thoughts! Growth mindset is like another tier of positive mindset. If you have never heard of it, be sure to check it out!
Obstacles to goal setting
I wouldn't be much of an ADHD Coach if I didn't highlight the potential obstacles to setting & reaching your goals.
Please note that these obstacles are going to be different from person to person. These are the big obstacles that I have noticed in myself and in my clients
DECISIONS - Notice how this one is in capital, bold letters?! That's on purpose... I truly believe that along with our self-talk, decisions are our biggest obstacle. Decisions have the ability to stop us in our tracks, send us into total overwhelm and shut us down. "The possibilities are endless so how can we decide?!" --> Here's the good news: we know that decisions are one of our major obstacles! This means we can do something about it!! Make your decisions in advance and break them down.
Fear of failure - When we set new goals our past failures will shoot forward like big alarm bells. This will happen so it's important to have a plan to kick those thoughts to the curb! Use your past successes to show those negative thoughts who is boss!
Overwhelm - Decisions certainly add to overwhelm but there are a few other things that contribute to overwhelm. Can you think of one? ---> Wanting to do everything and anything right this second!! -- Actually, it would have been nice if it were done yesterday. --> Expectations - of ourselves and of others. --> Executive Functions - people with ADHD have problems with executive functions. That is organizing tasks, breaking down tasks, starting tasks. Tasks end up looking a lot like the negative self-talk mountain that you saw above. Work with an ADHD Coach like myself to create actions plans so that you can manage tasks and work on setting habits, routines and outside help to support your executive functions.
Expectations - This ties in with what I said above about being realistic. If we expect ourselves to jump to the moon, well, I hate to break it to you but it isn't going to work out. It's extremely important to be the manager of your expectations - this includes managing other peoples expectations as well!
I have given you a lot of goodies in this blog post! I have said this before... the best way to see results is to work with a coach! We are blind to our self-talk and behaviors that may not be working for us. With me as your coach, I will reflect and highlight what may be getting in your way and we will find ways around those obstacles so that you can GET WHAT YOU WANT and accomplish your goals! How good does that sound?!
Schedule your free, 30 minute discovery session here: click me!