In my last post regarding follow through, we explored the idea of using cues or triggers to remind ourselves to take action toward a goal. As part of the example of this strategy, I mentioned the idea of exposing yourself to cues and triggers while at the same time eliminating distractions.
Preparing for Successful Follow Through
This concept of taking a few small actions today to better increase the likelihood of following through with your intentions tomorrow is called “Willpower Leveraging,” at least by the authors of the book Following Through: A Revolutionary New Model for Finishing Whatever You Start. In other words, you set yourself up for success by making it more easy to follow through than to not follow through.
For example, let’s once again consider that goal of yours to take the dog for a walk every morning. In addition to the cues/triggers you expose yourself to as a reminder, you can work to mostly eliminate the obstacles that could distract you. If you’re a web junkie, this might mean putting your laptop in the car and parking the car around the corner the night before. This action serves to both eliminate your biggest distraction and forces you to walk to get your car and/or laptop.
Another example involves your goal to improve your diet. You might take some time today to throw out sweets and chips from your kitchen and restock it with fruits and vegetables. This would make it much more likely that you will make good food choices tomorrow as you simply don’t have the junk food alternative without making a trip out of the house.
While I hope these examples prove intriguing to you, the authors of the book give a lot more background and details regarding the strategy. If you try something along these lines, be sure to tell me how it goes.
A couple of blogs ago, I referenced an article written by ADHD experts Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. and John J. Ratey, M.D. I keep going back to it because its 50 ADHD management tips really got me thinking.
Tip number 47 advised people with ADHD to make a conscious effort to schedule activities with friends to keep connected. There wasn’t a whole lot more to the bullet point, but its inclusion on the tip list helped me to make my own epiphany: I’ve successfully self-managed an ADHD tendency all on my own. That’s right, I’m that insightful and resourceful!
You Are Your Own Best Resource: Past Successes for ADHD Strategies
That being said, I don’t think I’m the only insightful and resourceful person with ADHD. Anyone who’s lived with the brain wiring and functioned at all has developed strategies, whether or not they recognize them as such.
When it comes to scheduling activities with friends, I long ago recognized that I need the social connection; but if I don’t schedule social activities at least a day in advance, they simply won’t happen. I need the scheduled activity as a goal to get from point A to point B. In this case, point A refers to being asleep in bed and point B refers to being dressed, out of the house and interacting. I don’t know why I can’t seem to be more spontaneous with social plans, but it apparently is just one more of those pesky brain-wiring tendencies.
In the end, the why doesn’t really matter. In fact, I’d say labeling it as an ADHD tendency doesn’t matter either. After all, why is someone born with two left feet when it comes to dancing or running or…painting? Sometimes, a “tendency” is another terms for describing how a person operates. When it comes to scheduling appointments with friends, I can fight it or I can work with it. And apparently, I figured out what works for me even before I received the ADHD diagnosis. All it took was a little bit of self awareness.
I read an article the other day by noted ADHD experts, Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. and John J. Ratey, M.D. In the article, the authors provided 50 management techniques for people living with ADHD. As I read through them, a couple jumped out at me, but none more so than number 37. The item talked about the depression that often follows a success for a person with ADHD.
Wow! It’s an ADHD thing.
These noted experts in the field just acknowledged one of my life truths that in addition to leaving me depressed also left me feeling confused and frustrated. That’s right, I have a hard time enjoying a success, yet I can ruminate like nobody’s business on a mistake or failure.
The article goes on to say that the depression is most likely the result of coming down from the “high stimulus” of the preparation and challenge of the activity. As you mull this over, remember that the ADHD mind thrives on stimulus. Good or bad, the revved up feeling you get as you prepared for something is stimulating.
The “tip” in the article is to expect to feel down as you experience the lull following a success, but I’d add a little tip of my own here. Like many “tendencies” of ADHD, perception is everything. For instance, the ADHD tendency of hyper focus can be good or bad depending on how you look at it and use it. In this case, that revved up feeling can be good or bad as a stimulus depending on how you perceive and label it. If you label it as anxiety, it is something to avoid. If you label it as excitement, it is something to be craved.
If this trick of perception can be true of a stimulus, it can also be true of the lull that follows it. If you expect the lull and are willing to look at it differently, you can take a deep breath and dismiss it as your “come-down blues” or “post-happy glum.”
Do you experience depression following a success? How do you handle it?