Seriously, Why Do You Hate Schedules So Much?

hate schedules

I know you secretly hate schedules. You’d rather “just remember” what needs to be done and do it. Preferably, whenever the timing feels right.

Me too.
Its so whimsical, so very “us”. We’re an intuitive bunch. We’d much rather go with the flow than be confined by rigid routine. Who knows what we’ll feel like doing next Saturday morning? We might want to go running. Then again, we just might prefer a bacon sandwich and a YouTube binge in bed. We like to keep our options open.
I loathe schedules too, except I don’t, really. I just think I hate schedules.
Schedules sound tedious and boring. They sound like something I have to do. And I hate having to do anything. Inside, I am toddler defying the bossy mommy who tells me what to do. But I’m also the mommy – who knows that things need to get done. So you can see the internal conflict between these two people who are apparently both me.
I’d like to say I’m the kind of person who goes with the flow. That’s what feels natural to me. Except in reality, (without a plan) my “flow” is more like a tiny little trickle. A trickle of wasted time and aimless meandering. Constipation, personified.
Whereas creating schedules helps me do things, instead of just thinking about doing things.
I’ve learned to love my calendar. Here’s why you should too:
  • A schedule supports you by taking the thinking out of things. Why rely on a memory that runs out on you like a philandering ex?
  • A schedule means you have things to do. It makes you interesting. Snails don’t have schedules, and they’re very boring.
  • A schedule lets you be the boss of time. You get to manage it. Therefore, a schedule it makes you a Time Lord.
  • A schedule can be flexible. In other words, it can be rescheduled.
The last point is the most crucial. Just because you planned to do something, doesn’t mean you can’t un-plan doing that thing if you change your mind when the time comes. A schedule doesn’t tell you what you can or can’t do. It just guides you through possibilities.
Think about that. So do you still hate schedules now?

Planning For ADD Moments

Is ADD getting in your way? Is it undermining your efforts to make positive changes in your life?

I’ve noticed this phenomenon too. In the past, it felt like I was always chasing my tail. I could see what I was doing, wandering around doing this and that, but getting nothing done. I just couldn’t stop it. Some days, I couldn’t make it out of the house before noon. Some days, I couldn’t make it out at all.

Now, I coach other adults with ADHD. I help them discover strengths, unlock potential and overcome challenges.

Pretty awesome work if I say so myself. But… it comes with a catch.

I love helping my clients reach their potential, but something can get in the way of progress. Can you guess what it is?

It’s their ADD. Their ADD gets in the way of our efforts to manage and overcome… their ADD. Imagine that.

For example, a client and I might be working on – say – strategies for getting organized at home. The next week, my client decides that some other tangent is more important, and forgets all about what we were talking about the previous week. The following week, they come back, having forgotten what we covered the previous two week, and now want to tackle a yet another agenda. It’s not that my clients don’t try hard – they do – it’s just that …. they are so ADD!

Yes, one of the most challenging parts of being an ADHD coach is that all of my clients have ADHD.

Would it help if I stopped here and added an emoji or a cheesy 😉 so there is no doubt I am be facetious?

The funny thing is, ADD doesn’t actually get in the way of progress at all. Coaching is designed to work with – or around – the ADD challenges. I know and my clients know that the impulse to change focus every week is compelling. So we pay attention to that. We know what is going to get in the way – so we plan for it. We predict distractions and plan ways to get back on track. We account for the likelihood of forgetting and set reminders. We notice we are getting off track and decide to get back on target.

And the reason it works is because there is no mystery and no judgment. We know that, as we work on ADD challenges, ADD is going to show up and get in the way. And the way we uncover strengths, unlock potential and master ADD is by learning to get around this challenge.

Most of us want to stop “being so ADD”, when we should really be seeking out a better way to plan for it being there, then find a way to work around it. This is always easier to do when you don’t judge yourself for making mistakes or when things don’t go as well as you wished they would.

Five ways to plan for ADHD


1. Never rely on your memory

Write everything down – in a notebook or on an app on your device. Preferably, keep notes in one location so you know which notebook or app to look in.


2. Set reminders and pre-reminders

Apps and alarms work best for this. Put your mother’s birthday in your calendar and set up an alert that will bring it to your attention on the day. Set a pre-reminder a few days ahead to remind you to get a gift or send a birthday card.

Don’t trust that voice that pretends “Oh, I’ll remember that!” Has it ever worked for you before?

I have a recurring reminder in my androids’s calendar, set up with an alert. Every morning at 8:00 a.m. it reminds me to… look at my calendar. No matter how hard I try, I never remember to actually look at my schedule for the day. Now, I don’t have to remember. My android tells me to do it.

3. Build a pause into your life

If you find yourself getting off track, pause and ask yourself:

What am I doing right now? Is this what I intended to be doing?

Get yourself back on track. Setting an alarm (yes, that strategy again!) is a great way to enforce a pause or two in your day.


4. Learn to simplify

We ADDers are notorious for trying to get too many things done. Tackle tasks the easy way, not the way that seems most productive. For more on this, check out this post.


5. Don’t commit to things you wish you’d do but won’t

Be realistic. It would be great to write a blog post, talk to a client, finish the laundry and take my kids sledding before my daughter’s theatre class, but at least one of those things is not going to happen today. Darn. Looks like laundry will have to wait. Commit only to what you can do, not what you think you should be able to do.


These are just a few ways to plan around ADHD. Other examples could include listening to your IPod while grocery shopping to drown out the noise, making meals in batches and freezing then for the rest of the week, or starting every day with a shower first – so you don’t end up in your onesie when your dinner guests arrive. The options are endless.

The point is, we can’t stop ADD. We just see it coming, like a road block up ahead, and drive around it.

What are your best strategies for circumventing ADHD challenges? Please share in the comments. And make sure to sign up in the box below for more tools to manage your ADD!


How to Be Your Own ADHD Coach

adhd coach

It doesn’t seem like it should be this hard to get on top of things, does it?

If you know what needs to be done, you should be able to just do it, right?

Maybe its the approach you’re taking.

I’m going to shoot myself in the foot when I say this, but you don’t need coaching to help you manage the challenges of ADHD. To say that in writing is a bit bonkers, since I am an ADHD coach. Why would I tell you that the thing I have to offer is something you don’t actually need? Hint: it’s not because I lack sales skills (though actually, I do) or because I am a half-wit (though actually, I hope I’m not!)

In truth, no one needs coaching. No one needs counseling either. There’s no rule of physics, philosophy or otherwise, that states things have to be any different than they are right now.

But when you want to feel better, leave a problem behind you, or move past a limitation – you may choose to get help. Through coaching or counseling or whatever means available. You don’t need to overcome challenges. You want to.

And get this: a lot of the help available, should you choose to seek it out, is free – or close to it. ADHD resources – such as books, websites, online videos and courses – are bountiful and relatively inexpensive. Most of them are but a click away, at any time, from anywhere in the world. Maybe not from my house on a Sunday evening, when the Internet connection collapses from winter traffic. But from anywhere else, anytime else.

But here’s the catch:

Just reading the book or watching the video is not the same as doing the work.

A lot of people use self-help materials. It’s a huge industry. No doubt, some of them are better than others (this blog is one of the better ones, just ask my mom). In any case, it doesn’t really matter. You have all the answers you need within yourself. Whatever resource you consult is merely a way of tapping into those answers.

That’s why I want to share with you the “secrets” of coaching. There’s no real mystery to it. You are the expert on you. And you can coach yourself through ADHD if you know how to approach it.

Here’s How to Coach Yourself


1. Find out everything you can about it

Books, videos… whatever! A good ADHD coach knows a lot about ADHD, and not just about the typical symptoms listed in a wiki. They know that ADDers can be accident prone but also make great athletes, can be unfocused at work but awesome in emergencies, and can look like they’re procrastinating when really they’re perfectionisting  (my word, but you can use it).

ADD is full of paradoxes. Learn about those paradoxes so you can understand why some so-called easy things are hard while other, objectively harder things – are easy.


2. Become more aware of YOUR ADD

It’s been said that there are around 18 thousand variations of the ADHD presentation. That’s why it’s so highly misunderstood.

My ADHD will most definitely look different than yours. Coaches help individuals figure out their own brand of ADHD, from the big challenges to the more subtle nuances of it.


3. Be More Accepting of Yourself

My most important job as a coach is to teach my clients how to let up on themselves a bit. You know how honey catches more flies than vinegar? My clients work harder when they know it’s okay to screw up. I don’t lecture them because I’ve made all the same screw ups in the past too. Except for my client who once burned down his garage. I haven’t done that (yet?)

Don’t lecture yourself. Remember: you are learning. You don’t have to get it perfect. You just have to step back and think:

What did I learn from this and what will I change next time?


4. Stick to one or two strategies at a time

My clients show up to our first meeting wanting to work on time management, clearing up clutter on the second, and by the third – they want to launch a new business selling personalized hour glasses to house keepers.

I’m no different. I’m an avid reader. I’m certain that each book is “the one” that will change my life forever. I’m a book-promiscuous. My Kindle has become a cemetery for forgotten epiphanies.

An ADHD coach’s job is to hold dear what the client quickly forgets. When my clients bring up new goals, I check in with them… “Are you sure you want to tackle thermodynamics right now? Cuz we haven’t really nailed the scientific method yet!”

In the beginning, focus on one or two of your “this-will-be-a-huge-relief-when-it’s-gone” type of challenges. Focus on first-things-first, before you take on the complete redesign of your entire life.


5. Keep doing the work

Richard Branson wasn’t built in a day. He may have been made in 15 minutes or less, but his empire took years to build. And he built it by making records and launching airlines, not watching TV.

My job as a coach is to keep my clients working hard, even when they don’t feel hopeful or motivated. Your job, as your own ADHD coach, is to make that commitment to yourself. Show up. Do the work. Repeat.


6. Celebrate successes

My favorite coachy things to say is: “Whoa pony, slow down! You just did what?!”

Not because my clients like being referred to as equines, but because my clients rarely take a moment to congratulate themselves when they kick butt. That’s where I step in and high-five their butt-kicking.

So when you coach yourself, make sure you high-five yourself. A lot. When no one is looking of course.


There’s no mystery to coaching yourself to overcome ADHD challenges, it just takes the right mindset and a willingness to accept your challenges, learn from them, and take a moment to celebrate when things go well. Now that I’ve talked myself out of a job, I must add that I’ve been incredibly happy to do so. I want everyone to know that the power to change their lives is within themselves, but you have to treat yourself the way a coach would treat you. Do onto yourself as a coach would do onto you – remember that okay?

But if you can’t do that, then maybe we should talk. Drop me a line on the contact page and we’ll see what we can do.


How to Make Ideas Happen When You Have LOTS of Ideas

make ideas happen

There is a yin and yang to fertile minds. Creative ADDers can have lots of ideas, but little output around those ideas. This juxtaposition is a huge obstacle to overcome if you want to be productively creative, or in other words – you want to actually do something with your ideas, not just daydream about them.

Stop Dreaming and Start Doing

First, we need to acknowledge that we will always be in surplus. The amount of ideas we conjure up will always outweigh our ability to follow through on all of them. We have a lot of interests and curiosities. But we can’t pursue all of them, or we wouldn’t get very far on any of them. Ever eat at a buffet and think: “Well, that was good, but I didn’t really enjoy any of it”?

Secondly, ADDers are constantly interrupted by tirades of distractions that thwart our efforts. When we’re working on one project, something(s) else calls out to us: “What about me!?” Our minds have no filters. Whatever gets in (and it all gets in) seems just as important as whatever we are doing in the present moment.

I struggle with this every day. Each post I write conjures up ideas for two or three more posts. But I can’t write them all simultaneously, and sadly – the inspiration for the other ones often vanishes as quickly as the ideas pop into my head.

One of my clients is an incredibly imaginative artist, whose mediums span a wide range of endeavors. She might be working on a piece of art, then have an idea for a song – it can be a struggle to know where to put her attention.

Another friend of mine is a talented photographer. He’s also an idea generator. I would estimate that he’s probably come up with no less than 20 great ideas for businesses he could start, none even related to the photography business he already runs. But he’s only one guy. If he followed through on every impulse, the business he already has would sink into an abyss.

The biggest problem for people like us is this:

If we chase all our creative impulses, they will stay just that – impulses. Creative people aren’t satisfied with just having ideas, they want to make things and bring their imagination to life.

What do you do when your heart yearns to make something, but your brain is at the mercy of a bountiful imagination and insatiable curiosity, with no reigns on either of them?

How to Make Ideas Happen

1. Let it go

We have to learn to let go of some ideas in favor of others, at least temporarily. Don’t gorge at the buffet table, making yourself sick on a little of this and a little of that. Pick two to three projects you really fancy and stick with them. Enjoy them. And leave the rest aside for now.

I suggest picking two to three projects for a couple of reasons. One project is unlikely to satisfy you – you’ll get bored and fed up. That’s the way the ADD mind is built. Plus, as we’ll talk about in a minute, you need to have an array of tasks to choose from, according to the frame of mind you are in. Working on one project means that you always have to be in the mindset that project requires. Not possible.

Any more than three projects and you’ll find yourself right back there at the buffet table.


2. Pick your priorities according to your frame of mind

This means knowing, intuitively, what you’re up for. Some days are great writing days for me. The words flow almost faster than my pudgy little fingers can two-finger type. Obviously, I choose to write those days.

Other days, my mushy mind can’t string two intelligible words together. (That’s assuming my writing is usually intelligible, but I’ll gamble on that hunch.) Those days, usually after a long day at work, I don’t write. This goes against most writing authorities’ advice – almost all suggest to write every day, no matter what. But screw ’em. I’ve got my process, they can keep theirs.

On the days I have brain-fatigue, I do other things. I do research or do something physical. Like painting or gluing stuff to other stuff. It doesn’t always work out (I haven’t decoupaged the dogs, yet…) but it feels good to do something with my hands.

Figure out what you’re in the mood for, and do that.


3. Define a work period. Period. 

Creative ADDers have this funny habit of believing that thinking about something is the same as doing that thing. Like mysterious little imps will bring their ideas to life while they sleep, such as The Blue Fairy in Pinocchio. Sorry my friend, you aren’t Geppetto. You have to carve out time in your schedule to make your magic happen. Preferably, every day – even if only in short bursts. This is where the writing authorities are right – do it every day. It just might not be the same goal you work on every day.

Even short bursts of activity can be super-productive. Check out the Pomodoro Method to find out more about how you can supercharge an hour or two of work time.


4. Manage Distractions

Find a quiet space, turn off your email and phone, blah blah blah. Yeah, we know all that. In truth, we’re most likely to get distract by… wait for it… other ideas! Get yourself a notebook, and quickly jot down those inspirations. Learn to tolerate the impulse to follow those shiny things right now. Just say “no”. Just say “not now”.

Yeah, like me, the inspiration may leave you. That’s okay. See point number one. The really good ones – they’ll come back again if they’re worth it.


5. Go Faster

We ADDers tend to over-think things. Often, we want to get things “just right” and that pursuit of excellence can actually hold us back. Sometimes, we need to just sit down and churn out the work. It might not be our best stuff – but we can always tidy it up later. Again – it’s a mindset thing. Editing and revising require access to a part of the brain that is not friendly to creative thought. For example, it’s pretty sucky to write and edit what you are writing in the same sitting. It makes the whole process arduous and painful. Write first, edit later.

When people are struggling to motivate themselves to do the work, it’s usually because the work feels tedious. The best way to get around this is to go faster and charge through it.


Though you may feel boggled and scattered by having so many ideas, its not a bad thing. It can be a blessing when you don’t give in to the impulse to follow all your brainwaves. Often, you will find that a few of your ideas actually tie together into one great idea. Other times, you will find that some are best left alone. These are my 5 preferred ways of bringing ideas to life when I’m inundated with many of them. I’m sure you guys have some even better tricks than the ones listed here – I’d love to hear them! Share your thoughts in the comments and don’t forget to sign up for free ADD tools in the box below!


Productive ADDers Manage Expectations to Be More Successful

manage expectations

Synopsis: Getting things done and finding more success when you have ADHD comes down to how you manage expectations. 

Are you exhausted by the myriad of things you do each day, but go to bed feeling disappointed that you didn’t accomplish quite enough?

ADDers have a hard time feeling satisfied with their achievements. We have a lot of interests and ideas we want to put into action, and we want to get them ALL DONE (even when it’s not realistic). And sometimes, we get so distracted by our voracious goal-appetites, we end up “grazing” all day – on this and that – but we don’t really do anything substantial.

Right now, I’m working on a few different projects. I am co-editing an online magazine for ADDers. I am developing on an online course for Adult ADHD, to be published on Udemy in February (fingers crossed). I am also halfway through writing a book, though I’m not sure I should even mention it in this lineup, as I’ve been “half-finished” since January of last year. Oh yeah, and then I’ve been writing for this blog, too.

Some days, I’m on fire – I get in a few uber-productive hours of work and make real headway on these projects. Other days (in fact, more days than not) – I get little to none done. It might even be weeks between bursts of super-powered productivity. It used to depress me. The term “long on will, short on skill” comes to mind. I do everything the productivity gurus prescribe – get up early, remove all distractions, work hard for defined periods of time.. How is it that I can be so motivated, yet still so inefficient at times?    

I’ve come to realize that it all boils down to how we manage expectations.

I wish I could be more productive on my goals each day. It’s kind of disappointing that I can’t work as fast as my head imagines things getting done. But when I EXPECT myself to be more productive – to write 5 blog posts in a day, to publish an e-course within a month, or to write, edit and publish a book within 6 months of its conception – well, it’s downright devastating.

When it comes to being satisfied with your daily output, it’s crucial to distinguish between wishes and expectations.

Take these two examples from everyday living. Example A – When my Internet connection is poor and my search leads me to the dreaded “Internet Connection Timed Out”, I nearly explode in frustration at the sheer incompetence of my Internet service provider. I expect it to work after the first click. Fifteen years ago, I didn’t care that a webpage took 5 minutes to load while the modem dialed up – the Internet was such a marvelous novelty then.

Now take example B – I really wish that I could be a millionaire (who doesn’t?). I would spend half my time engaged in charitable occupations and the other half doing wonderful and exciting things with my family. But I get over it pretty quickly when the lotto fails to come up with my numbers.

Although I dream of winning the lottery, I don’t expect it. Yet taken at face value, surely the loss of millions of dollars (even if only just the potential) is far more devastating than the inconvenience of a timed-out Internet search! The difference lies in my personal appraisal of these two events: one is an expectation and the other a wish. I hate to imagine how I’d react if I expected to win the lottery.

Yet, for so many ADDers, what we expect from our daily accomplishments is about as realistic and likely as winning the lottery. We need to better manage expectations.


Here’s What Happens if You Don’t Manage Your Expectations:

  • You’ll never be satisfied by what you do get done
  • This feeling of disappointment lends to a “what’s-the-point” sense of futility
  • Feelings of futility make it less likely you’ll keep working at something (after all, what’s the point?)
  • Your work rate suffers – you’ll either give up easier or give up all together

Before, you weren’t getting as much done as you wanted to get done. Now, you’re getting nothing done at all. A lifetime of Facebook and Game of Thrones it is for you then!

Success breeds success. Dwelling on positives inspires more positive action in your life; the more satisfied, fulfilled and successful you feel in your efforts, the more likely you will be to continue applying more effort. Be warned, though – the opposite is also true.


Manage Your Expectations to BE and FEEL More Successful

1. Play a Game of Semantics

This tactic is the verbal equivalent of diazepam. Instead of saying “Ugh, I didn’t get anything done today!” say:

“I wish I would have got more done, but I guess it just didn’t happen. I’ll try again tomorrow.”

When that ping of frustration bubbles at the surface, check in with yourself, decode expectations and translate them to wishes. Unfulfilled wishes are disappointing but manageable, while unfulfilled expectations are devastating.


2. Set the Bar Lower and Surprise Yourself

We know ADDers have a lot of desire to bring ALL our diverse ideas to fruition. Often, it’s not physically possible to get everything done.

In a world that offers so freely a plethora of stresses, frustrations and even tragedies, why add coal to the fire by heaping on unrealistic and incalculable personal expectations? If you scrutinize and exam your expectations closely, you will likely find that many of them are not only unreasonable, but also unachievable.

Plan, intentionally, to do less than you think you are capable of doing. If you exceed expectations, you’ll feel all the better for it. If you simply meet those lowered targets, you’ll still feel satisfied because that’s what you set out to do.


3. Under-Promise, Over-Deliver

In the same spirit as #2, many ADHD Coaches (myself included) work with their clients to develop this principle. Commit to less than you are capable of. If you give more than what was expected, other people will be delighted. Over-committing and not following through – because you set the bar too high – disappoints everyone – including yourself.


4. Work towards a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

In the start-up industry, the MVP is a pivotal starting point in accelerating growth. In brief, an MVP is a “product with just enough features to gather validated learning about the product and its continued development.” (Wikipedia) In the ADD world, we refer to this as “good enoughness”. ADDers are prone to perfectionism, and we see things in black-and-white terms. Either something is done or it’s not. We see no in-between.

In reality, there are multiple steps between coming up with an idea and bringing it to life. Work towards achieving a minimum viable product or good-enough effort each day, knowing that continued application of these principles will lead to eventual completions.


I don’t propose that learning to manage expectations is the only way to be more successful with ADHD.  There is no one-sure-path to success – it’s more like a system of interconnected highways, byways and even a few grid roads. But by becoming aware that expectations do not have to be fulfilled in order to be successful, and in fact can be limiting, takes you a small chunk of the journey closer to that destination.


If you want more strategies for productivity, success and bringing your ideas to life, make sure to sign up for free tools and updates in the box below, or contact me to find out how ADHD coaching can help you.

P.S. If you’d like a free year’s subscription to the online mag I co-edit, email “editor at everydayADDvice dot com” and mention that Andrea sent you!


For Creative People Who Can’t Quit Their Day Job (or Life for That Matter)

creative people

Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people.
Leo Burnett

Motivational sages pretend that making your dream come true only requires elbow grease and a decision to never give up. This is mostly misleading. It’s true, in the sense that it works if all you dream of… is making your dream come true. But most of us want ketchup and gravy, not plain old fries. We want a purpose, a home of our own, a partner to share it with, and a few holidays for flavor.

We don’t have just one dream. We have many. It is the rare few who enjoy (endure?) a single-minded focus on the pursuit of one overriding purpose in life. That leaves the rest of us trying to slot in a bit of time here and there, pursuing passions that don’t bring in paychecks or take us out for romantic dinners.

In other words, we really want to be writers and painters and wood workers and entrepreneurs and graphic designers and music producers and (fill in your creative preference here ______), but…

We have to fit it in between yoga class and bedtime.

Guess what that means? Not a lot of time to pursue what makes our hearts sing. Amateur creative people are adept at squeezing creativity into small spaces.

Maybe this is just my experience, but I’ll share it with you in case you relate:

I love to write. I feel most in flow when I’m playing with words and ideas. I dream of one day writing a book. But I only write a couple nights a week. Because I also love my husband, my kids and my dogs. I love entertaining friends, coaching clients and renovating our home. And – I have a day job. I couldn’t imagine giving up one of those things to pursue writing exclusively. Except for my Newfie when he binge eats his own feces. I might consider it then.

Author Ryan Holiday’s advice for becoming a writer is not about prolific work ethic or the relentless honing of your skills. He simply states:

“Go do something interesting.”

It’s what we do in our everyday lives that gives us something to say.

I don’t write for a living. But my living, professional and otherwise, has given me something to write about. I write when I can. When you love something, you’ll find the time to do it. You’ll write your book on the toilet and create websites on a commuter train to your real job.

For most creative people, this won’t feel satisfying AT ALL! Ten minutes here and there will feel like putting out a prairie fire by peeing on it. But if, like me, you’re not willing to sacrifice all your dreams for the sake of one, you’ll make do with that.

You can be more fulfilled by piecemeal creativity.


Embrace the toilet time and morning commute as life’s way of giving you stolen time. Use every minute of stolen time you get.

Be awake and mindful in your everyday life. Your muse speaks when you’re going about your business, not just when you’re creating.

Let life inspire your work. Look at the ordinary in extraordinary ways. Glean material from overheard conversations and ideas from glitches in your work day.

Do something interesting. If you can’t thinking of anything interesting to do, just try saying yes more.

And remember this always:

Creativity is not sitting down and working at your craft. Creativity is all around you, in everything you do. If you open yourself up to be inspired by every moment, no matter how mundane it may seem, you transform from an amateur creative to someone who is in that creative space 24-hrs-a-day.

How much more fulfilling is that?


10 Original Gifts to Give this Christmas

original gifts

As Christmas approaches, the pressure is on to find orginal gifts for those we love. Every year, it seems to get harder and harder to find just the right thing. The best gifts in live are free, they say. While you can’t wrap these gifts up and put them under the tree, they are infinitely more rewarding than anything Mr. Mastercard could give your loved ones.

1. Authenticity

Be courageous. Start showing up as yourself, wherever you go. No pretending you have it all together. No confabulating answers to questions you can’t answer. And no holding yourself back to appear less than you are.

If you wear your heart like a cuff-link – then wear it proud.

If you’re absentminded – then wave your flag high, as a wayward wanderer who navigates life through the scenic route.

If you don’t know or understand something – be wise enough to say so.

This kind of realness is electrifying. It puts people at ease around you and inspires them to be their real selves with confidence.

2. Gratitude 

Be thankful for who you are, knowing that your unique perspective and skill-set in life is a beautiful thread in the tapestry of humankind. Be thankful for the other people – flaws and all – knowing that they, too, are perfectly woven into the fabric of life.

Show your gratitude. Its easy to say thank-you when someone does something for you. Its profound when you say thank-you to someone for being who they are.

3. Be transparent

“Say what you mean and mean what you say.” Don’t fake it – it doesn’t fool anyone. And by skirting around an issue, it denies everyone the opportunity of growing together.

Say what you think. By all means, say it politely – but don’t sell yourself out by saving someone’s feelings. By doing so, you’re selling them out too.

Like authenticity, transparency saves people the guesswork of trying to figure out what’s going on with you.

4. Start and stop – talking and listening

If you’re a Chatty Kathy, then take the batteries out and give other people some airtime. Don’t finish their sentences or anticipate your next. Give them the space to express themselves and your patience to wait for it. You never know what you might learn.

Likewise, if you’re a Silent Sam – start talking. Sometimes over-talkers only do so because they feel compelled to fill the dead airspace. Let them off the hook and fill the space yourself. If you think you have nothing to say – remember points one and three. Be yourself. If you’re at a loss for words – say so.

5. Give only what you won’t regret giving photo-1465829284245-fc3c780208d5

Asking if someone needs help is nice. Asking how you can help is better. Suggesting how you can help is the best.

Sometimes, people are too nice to ask for help. Other times, they aren’t sure you can help. And what they need, may be something you aren’t willing to offer. Help given begrudgingly is worse than not helping at all. Make it easy to be helped, by articulating exactly what you can offer.

6. Sometimes, just do it

Asking – “Do you need any help?” – when you can clearly see they do, is really saying:

“Can you please not be angry at me for doing nothing. I feel bad, but not bad enough to pitch in”.

Sometimes, the best thing to do is to role up your sleeves and get stuck in, without being asked.

7. Ask for what you want

In the spirit of transparency, don’t assume other people read minds. Ask for what you want – in plain and simple terms.

Just because they “should know”, doesn’t mean they do. You have no idea what else is on their mind. Don’t be a martyr. Be assertive. If you don’t ask, you won’t get.

8. Challenge your negative thoughts

Your inner thoughts may be a private membership club, but what’s going on in there will leak out and affect other people – by what you say, how you say it, and what you do.

Don’t accept your thoughts at face value, as if they are factual just because you are thinking them. Challenge them by asking yourself:

“How does this thought serve (or sabotage) me?”

“What am I missing?”

“What’s another way I could look at this situation?”

Being more open-minded allows you to be non-judgmental. It doesn’t mean that you will think positively no matter what, but that you will think more objectively without being offended, defensive, or rehashing old wounds (and damaging relationships in the process).

9. Speak positively

Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can spread like viruses.

Find positive meaning in experiences and vocalize it, even if the negative can’t be ignored. Most people aren’t hardwired for noticing the positive aspects of a difficult situation. Disappointment, hassle and hardship all have voices too loud to ignore. But focusing on the positive aspects of a situation helps people be more resilient to the hardships of life.

You don’t need to be syrupy or sappy. But showing off your own silver lining inadvertently teaches other people to look for their own.

10. Accept, unconditionally, yourself and othersphoto-1451471016731-e963a8588be8

Love is patient, love is kind… you know the rest.

We know how important unconditional acceptance is if we want to have  a meaningful relationship with other people. But giving it to ourselves is just as important.

When you accept yourself, you lead the way for other people to become more accepting of themselves too. Growing as person and overcoming challenges is always easier when you start from a stand-point of

“I’m okay, but I’m getting even better”.

Teach unconditional acceptance to other people by offering it to them and yourself first.


No matter what you put under the tree this Christmas, make a point in the coming year to give more of these gifts to the people in your life and notice the difference it makes to everyone. Got anymore ideas? Share them in the comments below….


PS. This post was a mash-up of a post I did a few years ago. I’m going to be taking a break from posting until the New Year, so I can leave myself some space to focus on others things. Mostly, time with my family, freinds, and my first few batches of homemade Bailey’s.

I also intend to use this break to conjure up some fresh ideas for next year’s posts. Unless I have too much Bailey’s. Then who knows what I’ll come up with.

Wish me luck 🙂 

And Merry Christmas to all!

xxx Andrea


The Purpose of the Curious but Unfocused Life  


Synopsis: You may not know what your passion is, but living a curious, unfocused life may just be your purpose in this world. 

Some time ago, my mom emailed me a link to an Elizabeth Gilbert video. At that time, I’d been feeling disheartened about my creative work, or rather – lack of it. Even though she didn’t know it, the message was EXACTLY what I needed to hear, at that EXACT moment. How do moms do that?

Whenever you have half an hour, watch the video (linked above). If you don’t have time now – make sure you come back to it. I promise, it will free your wandering soul from psychological entrapment. Elizabeth Gilbert didn’t name the ADD mind specifically in her talk, but she was definitely talking about US!

Free the Curious “Hummingbirds”

As Elizabeth described, a “hummingbird” is someone who has many curiosities, but no defined passion. This kind of person takes up many interests, and gives up just as many. They float from one hobby to the next, jump from job to job, or even from one country to another – never quite settling on any one thing, or any one place.

Know any hummingbirds?

The hummingbird analogy she used resonated with me. For long, I have been frustrated with myself for not being able to settle on one “passion”. I’m interested in a little bit of this and that, but never fully, wholly absorbed in one thing – not to the extent that a highly-focused and driven person with complete, obsessive passion would.

I wonder how much more successful I could have been with my creative ventures if I’d been really serious about one thing. I grieve for a lack of focus and determination towards a single pursuit.

“I could have been something! I could have done more! If only I knew what the heck it was I really, truly wanted to do”. Essentially, it’s what I was talking about in this post.

I’m not alone. Many of my ADD clients have the same regret.

We want to know why we can’t find that one thing that lights up our entire world, keeps us hooked and committed to living out our purpose.

Why can’t I settle on one thing? Why don’t I finish anything? What’s the point in trying, when I’ll only get bored and quit?”

There is a point, a really beautiful point. I can’t say it any more eloquently than an esteemed author could so I’ll quote Elizabeth directly:

Hummingbirds spends their lives doing it very differently. They move from tree to tree, from flower to flower, from field to field, trying this, trying that. Two things happen. They create incredibly rich, complex lives for themselves. And they also end up cross-pollinating the world. That is the service that you do if you are a hummingbird person … you’re perspective ends up keeping the entire culture aerated, mixed up, open to the new and fresh. And if that is how you are constructed by your Divine Maker then that is how we need you to be. You just keep doing that. That is what the path is that you’re supposed to lead.

Isn’t that a stunning way of looking at it?

We tend to think that our life’s purpose is mapped out by a single path. If we don’t find that path, or we’re never really sure that the road we travel is the one we’re meant to be on, or even want to be on – then we’re truly lost.

But for some of us, our purpose is not a single path but many interweaving paths, going in all sorts of directions. We seldom end up where we intended to go, but the journey is breath-taking when you allow yourself to really enjoy it.

Free your hummingbird. Floating around from one thing to another, then to another and another… IS its purpose.