Early spoiler alert: There is no “fixing” ADHD — but acceptance and trying differently (not harder) is the fastest way we see clients make steps forward in their life. Have you heard the phrase “trying things the same way over and over and expecting a different response is the definition of insanity?”
In coaching, we work with our clients to truly accept their strengths and limitations and to let go of doing things in ways that are not serving them. Again we want clients to try differently, not harder. Here are a few of the most common examples we see in coaching:
I want a clean house but it’s so hard to clean each week on a schedule when it’s just me…
- What is “clean” to you? (Is it secretly based on Instagram?)
- Who says cleaning needs to be on a schedule?
Creative example: A client gathered a group of four friends together and rotated weekly whose house they cleaned. More time with friends and the cleaning is done in a quarter of the time!
I need to plan my week the Friday before…
- Does it need to be on Friday? Most of my clients (and me too!) are pooped on Fridays and planning ahead is sometimes the last thing they want to think about. What about planning on Wednesdays?
- What does planning look like? Get specific on what needs to happen and base it around your life and your structures.
Creative example: On Sunday evenings, a client will hop on Zoom with a friend and describe their weeks and what needs to be done. This gets their brains in work mode and makes Monday morning much easier.
I have such a hard time getting up for work in the morning, my brain doesn’t start working until 10:00 am …
- What’s a pleasurable activity that gets you out of bed on the weekends? Can you do it during the week?
- What’s the work that doesn’t need your best brain? Can you do that before 10:00 am?
Creative example: A client asked for a weekly company meeting to start one hour later in the morning. This conversation prompted other co-workers to voice their agreement with a later start and now “no 8:00 am meetings” is the rule in their office!
(Every one of my student clients ever) I can’t sit down and write the paper …
- Who says you need to sit? Can you stand or take a walk? Do you know someone who could type as you talked out loud?
- What if you painted pictures to get the outline of the story? Could you turn in a graphic novel instead?
Creative example: A client getting their Master’s degree shared with his professor the trouble he was having writing a final paper. He knew the material and the concepts, but his words came out better when he could talk out loud. The professor agreed to have a final “conversation” instead of a final “paper” to assess the student’s knowledge.
In all of these scenarios, there was an assumption about how something was going to get done. Often, we as folks with ADHD, are trying to do things in a neurotypical way and that doesn’t work for us! What would it be like if you did things the ADHD-friendly way?
If you know that you clean when you invite people over, start throwing more parties! Does it really bother you that your floors aren’t mopped? Or are you actually okay with an occasional sweep when things get crunchy? What if the way you do it now was already the “right” way?
So much of our work in coaching is around our clients accepting and owning their ADHD brains. Know that you are not alone in doing things in a different way, and challenging the “way things have always been done” is a good thing! We as coaches are always here to support you and have creative conversations about how you can live your best ADHD-friendly life.
Riley Karbon, PCAC
ADHD Coach and Life Coach, Executive Skills Coach