Making decisions is a challenge for those with ADHD. One of the reasons is that we are challenged by distraction. And we can get challenged in both our internal and external lives. There is an overabundance of external distractions to hijack us such as noise, clutter, movement, people talking to us, etc. The internal distractions of thoughts, feelings, and ruminations can steal away our focus and self-confidence as well.
Many times, good decision-making also requires good working memory which is another impairment folks with ADHD struggle with. Many decisions require being able to hold different facts in your memory long enough to figure out the better option.
When it’s time to decide, a person with ADHD has many possibilities and options vying for their attention. It is like a kid in the candy store with all the possibilities.
Over time, people with ADHD experience so much failure in making decisions, they no longer trust themselves which leads to overthinking and ruminating on all their decisions. It would make sense as to how this can contribute to anxiety or depression as we struggle with our worries around failure and disappointing others.
So, what strategies can aid us to become better at decision-making? Here are a few:
Make a Pros and Cons list
Brainstorm all the benefits and drawbacks of this major decision. And when possible, invite a friend to brainstorm with you to help energize the discussion. This will help you to see the bigger picture and to streamline your focus.
Focus on What Matters Most to You
Consider your values in light of this decision. What is most important to you to filter this decision through? Perhaps you have been offered a job in another location with great pay, but it will require you to spend more time on the commute. Family time is a value that matters greatly to you, so looking at how this job will impact your family time would play into your decision on whether this job is a good decision.
Go with Your Gut
Those who find themselves unsure of their decision-making capabilities can tend to ruminate or overthink all decisions. And many day-to-day decisions such as what to cook for dinner do not require that high level of cognitive power. How about choosing to trust your instinct and jump in with self-confidence.
Writing it down has several benefits; I am making the decision process more visual and tangible. And I am making it more possible to do. And the bonus of writing is that when I write it down, I am also helping myself to remember it. Remember that working memory problem we talked about above? I don’t have to hold all those facts in my head while trying to evaluate, I have them on my list.
Brainstorm the Decision
This relaxed approach to decision-making might be an approach to try to “grease your decision-making wheels”. Brainstorming encourages people to come up with thoughts and ideas that can be out of the box and maybe spark more ideas. But it can also help to get feedback from others to clarify a decision you are struggling with. Seek out feedback from those you trust to help get you unstuck.
Create a Deadline for the Decision
Sometimes even after all the pros and cons lists and brainstorming sessions, we need to draw a line in the sand and set a deadline to stop and pull the decision trigger. Create the deadline and write that in your calendar or planner then honor that commitment to yourself.
Finally, once you have made your decision don’t forget to celebrate yourself for staying the course. Winners face challenges head-on and get help when needed. Remember that every good decision counts towards rebuilding your self-confidence. And done is better than perfect because perfect never gets done.
ADHD Coach and Life Coach, Executive Skills Coach, Owner/Founder