Growth

One Truth to Overcome Insecurity

insecurity

Synopsis: This post is about insecurity. But it is not for the faint-hearted. Read with an open mind. If you’re not prepared to do that, best not read it at all.

Thought you’d have grown out of insecurity by this age, didn’t you? Kind of disappointed that you’re still not confident and self-assured, at your age?

While you sit there feeling like a gawky, spotty-faced teenager inside, hiding behind a “wreck-of-a-human-being” guise – assholes are taking over the world and getting successes they don’t deserve.

Oh, I’m sorry… I thought you liked being talked to that way. You do it to yourself all the time!

Since you seem to enjoy a good-old masochistic mental ass-kicking… move over and let me have a turn.

You are an adult. Adulting doesn’t come with a side-order of confidence. Confidence is like money. If you’re not born with it, you gotta go out there and make it.

Now that I have your attention, let’s soften the tone and abandon the vitriol and derision. Please forgive me for using shock tactics to cut through your mental bullshit. But something had to be done.

Here’s the Problem:

Insecurity Makes You Feel…

  • Weak
  • Unsure of yourself
  • Embarrassed
  • Less than everyone else
  • Vulnerable

Insecurity Stops You From...

  • Speaking your mind
  • Being at ease in social situations
  • Taking chances
  • Being an active participant of life
  • Being yourself

 

Recognize the True Nature of Insecurity

You know when you buy a $30 stereo from an electronics store and the cashier generously offers to sell you an additional 10-year warranty for only $15? She makes it sound like you’ll be a regretful idiot if you don’t get the warranty. But you don’t really care if this stereo lasts ten years. You only want it for a beach picnic. Its long-term destiny is your hall closet, or maybe a garage sale or charity shop, where one day it can spread its electronic wings and move across town to someone else’s closet.

Plus $15 is kind of expensive for a gadget that only costs $30 in the first place, don’t you think?

That’s what insecurity is. A really expensive insurance policy designed to protect you from the psychological dangers of rejection, failure and humiliation. You get to protect your fragile little psyche by making sure it’s never exposed to anything that could make it even fragile-er. Like protecting a china doll from grubby little kiddie hands. Put that china doll back in the cupboard where it belongs, bubs.

But there’s something else about that over-priced warranty: It doesn’t cover everything. That $30 stereo is covered if its wiring catches on fire through a manufacturing error. It’s not covered if your stereo goes car-surfing and hits the ditch at 40 mph. Let’s be honest… how often do stereos succumb to spontaneous combustion (when they’re not Samsungs)?

Take the risk. Spend that $15 on a book, movie ticket or a cheap box of wine.

 

What about Your Insecurity, Though?

Not speaking your mind, not putting yourself out there, not being yourself… they don’t make you more confident or secure. They just feed insecurity, making you spin in circles like this pointless pursuit.

Feel insecure. Don’t speak up. Don’t speak up. Feel more insecure.

You get it?

But wait, there’s more!

No matter how hard you try to avoid embarrassment/humiliation/rejection/____ (insert your psychological phobia here)… shit will still happen to you. You’ll still find things to feel bad about. That’s the way your brain has been wired – to look for threats and weaknesses.

 

In-Security Instead of Insecurity

Brace yourself, you’re not going to like what I have to say. But shut up and listen because I’m doing the ass-kicking today.

When you feel anxious and uptight around other people because you don’t feel good enough, smart enough, or whatever enough, remember this:

Three-quarters of the people around you feel exactly the same way, whether they show it or not.

We human beings are delicate, fragile little souls, who walk around this planet uncertain of our worthiness to even be present and alive.

We didn’t make ourselves. We are an expression of life. Call it God or the universe or life force or whatever you choose – you are worthy because you are alive. Being alive means bumping into things and tripping over words. It means stuttering and stammering, hiccupping and falling over. Looking stupid, having brain farts and verbal diarrhea – yep, they’re part of being alive too.

Nobody said being polished and perfect was the only way to win this game. Going out there and living authentically – that’s the way you really score. Showing up as you are, and being okay with how you are (otherwise known as being authentic) – is the only path to feeling secure. And when you allow yourself to be okay as you are, you give those other insecure people the freedom to accept themselves too.

We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Marianne Williamson

So really, when it comes to insecurity, there is only one thing you should fear: everything you’ll lose because of a useless, overpriced insurance policy that doesn’t cover everything anyway.

Mindset

How to Feel Proud of Yourself

proud

No matter what you do, it never quite feels good enough, does it?

You may be growing a career, plodding your way through a difficult university course, or rearing a brood of children…it doesn’t matter what forum of life we’re talking about. In everything you do, you’re nagged by the sense that your efforts aren’t quite good enough.

Today, I am writing specifically for a few of my clients who struggle with this lack of self-belief, knowing that at least a handful of my readers (if not more), will know exactly what I’m talking about.

You see, so many people, and none more than those with ADHD, struggle with the notion that they should be doing better than they are. They should have gotten a better grade. They should have a better paid job. They should be a more patient parent, with exemplary kids, who excel in all they do.

I have felt this sense of “less-than” on many occasions. For example, I worked my butt off on my Post-Graduate dissertation and was rewarded with merit – only a few points short of a distinction mark.

A few of my classmates did get distinctions. I should have been celebrating my achievement but instead I was disgruntled with myself. I was just as smart as them, wasn’t I? Why wasn’t my best effort good enough to raise my work to the status my colleagues achieved? My topic was original and poignant, I nailed the arguments, used all the right language and references….

But somebody didn’t think it was good enough.

But actually – a merit is pretty good. In fact, just passing the course was quite an achievement. And heck – even being enrolled and showing up for the classes was quite a feat. When I come to think of it, my essay writing involved a grotesque process, with coffee-stained papers littering my living room for days, garbage piling up in the corners of the room, maintaining the upkeep of the resident mice in my South London flat. It was utter chaos. I should have been proud that I even handed that 10,000-word whopper in. Yet I was dismayed that I didn’t get the best mark. Not by a long shot.

It’s because, secretly, I never felt like I was good enough to be taking part in that Post-Grad in the first place. I felt like a fraud, rising above my station. In my mind, I had to do the best, in order to prove I was worthy. Anything less than best would show me up.

Well, I guess I got showed up. And what has it meant to my life since then?

Nada.

It’s ridiculous when I think of it. But we all apply this logic to our thinking at times.

It’s called “focusing on the outcome”. As in: I’ll be good enough when I am successful. Or when I am rich. Or when my kids are successful. Or when I get to the top of the corporate latter.

But “when” never comes. The bar we measure ourselves against lifts itself higher and higher.

I realize, as I write this, this topic is not unique. But I’m writing about it anyway, because I feel I’ve got to say this:

My ADD comrades – they tend to judge themselves extremely harshly. I know many ADDers who feel like they have to work harder and do better than everyone else, just so they can feel good enough. Note what I just said: good enough. They don’t want to feel better than everyone else. But the only way they get to feel like equals, is to excel.

Not really a fair contest is it?

We’ve all had plenty of reasons to feel “not-good-enough”. Always late. Never paying attention. Breaking things. Failing classes. Losing jobs….When our lives are dotted with experiences like these, how can we learn to feel proud of ourselves? Or, at the very least, like we are good enough?

Go back in time. Somewhere along the line, that message was fed to you like an airplane-spoon full of porridge into a baby’s mouth. Somebody or somebodies made you feel like you didn’t measure up to what was expected of you. They made you feel screwed up.

But when you look over these times, you’ll always ignore one fact. Those people who made you feel screwed up… were just as screwed up themselves. They’d been elevated to status of judge-jury-and-executor when they had no right to have that kind of influence over your entire self-perception. Those in glass houses, right? But it didn’t matter – their perceptions hooked your psyche like fishing in a barrel.

But the truth is – we’re all screwed up. Every. Single. Person.

So what’s there to feel proud of?

Feel proud of your efforts. Not of the outcome, but of your efforts. Feel proud that you showed up and did the work. That you tried, even when the trying got hard. That you pushed yourself past your own limits. That you learned when you messed up. That you learned some more when you messed up again. That you kept trying. Whether or not anyone noticed it. Whether or not you got that grade. That bonus. That promotion. That whatever.

Those things do not define your worth as a person. They are only minor benchmarks in the timeline of your life span. When you measure yourself – only against yourself – and focus only on the effort you make each step of the way… that’s when you get to feel the kind of pride in yourself that never goes away.

Tell me today: what are you proud of?

Growth

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.

Productivity

An Oath of Fulfilling Productivity (What Will You NOT Do Today?)

It’s been a busy summer. Like every summer, the days have slipped past me faster than the plummeting price of oil.

I love having the kids off from school. No lunches to pack, no early morning alarm bells (for them, anyway). No arguing over what to wear or when to go to bed. Just pure, blissful, organic, moment-to-moment living.

I treasure these stolen moments with the kids, to laze around and (yes, I’ll admit) watch Vat19.com videos on Youtube. It’s guilt-inducing that I allow them to pollute their minds with pointless tripe, but redeeming to find communion over a shared sense of humour.

Admittedly, there have not been enough “stolen moments” like these. (I count stolen moments as extra moments to do out-of-the-ordinary things that can’t be done within the confines of your normal schedule).There have been even fewer quality moments doing things of substance and value. Because, like I said, we’ve been busy.

Work, business, blogging and website building. Basement renovations, deck building, hardware shopping and garbage dump deliveries. New puppy, summer parties, sleepovers and play dates. Garage sales and grocery shopping. Carpet cleaning and yard clean up (like I said – NEW PUPPY!). Company from afar and from across the road…

All the things that occupy the stolen moments supposedly called “free time”.

And yet with all the busyness, it’s hard not to focus on what hasn’t been done. It’s easy to feel unfulfilled.

Yes, we have a new deck – but it’s overshadowed by the proliferating weed-monstrosities overtaking the garden. The neighbours must hate us.

Yes, the basement is now finished after twelve grueling months, but the spot-washed carpet is a mere homage to the cleaning that remains to be done. What the company must think!

Yes, the kids have had fun with so many of their friends and the puppies have been exercised and fed. But what none of them have had is enough of me. Because, you know – the new deck, the basement, the company and ++ more.

I started out the summer with a master list of everything I wanted to accomplish during these respite months. What I forgot to include was list of everything I didn’t want to do. Being happy and productive is as much about what you won’t do as it is about what you will do.

So with a month left to go, time is of the essence to make that list right now.

My Oath to Fulfilling Productivity

  1. I vow that however I spend my time, I will do so by being fully present and in the moment with that activity. When I am working in the yard, I will work in the yard. When I am with the kids, I will be with the kids. I am one person, with one my mind. I can’t split my body into two people, so why should I spilt my mind?
  1. I promise that I will give equal time to activities of substance and productivity. Guilt will not rob me of fulfillment in either. I need to spend quality time with my family and I need to get things done. These needs are not mutually exclusive and they both deserve my attention.
  1. I assert that I will let some things go. Busyness will only be allocated to activities I endorse as valuable, regardless of how others may perceive me. So yes, the garden will remain overgrown. I am busy with other things this summer, and that’s nobody’s business but mine.
  1. I commit to making productivity a by-product of fulfillment, rather than the other way around. Getting things done is not important activity in and of itself. On the other hand, fulfillment as a precursor to any activity lends itself to greater focus.
  1. No matter how busy I get, I will always make time for stolen moments. In fact, I will get myself busier by making more of them. Renovating or yard work can be interrupted to laugh and love more freely. Work and business can be punctuated with impromptu cuddles and smiles and silliness. Company can be stalled or sent home sooner than anticipated because nobody should get more of me than my family does, and nobody should get be more of my family than me.
  1. Before I engage in any activity of productiveness, I will start with a clear sense of a good-enough outcome for that moment. Aiming for a “finish” often means other important things (i.e. family) get relegated to second place in pursuit completion. Finishing is mot more valuable than balance.

You can make more money but you can never make more time, warns Randy Pausch. But you can make more of the time you have by choosing to spend it in fulfilling ways, even if that means learning to find your busyness more fulfilling.

I know that if I took more time to write this post, I would certainly think of at least a few more oaths I would like to make. But for now I am practicing “good-enough”.

I’m interested to hear what oaths you would make to create more fulfilling productivity in your life, and more specifically – what you would start “not doing” in order to achieve it. Let me know in the comments below 🙂

Mindset

What Does Acceptance Look Like?

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know I talk a lot about acceptance, especially the importance of accepting your ADD/ADHD. But what does acceptance look like? More importantly, why is it even important?

Acceptance is a vague word. Dictionary.com offers a couple of definitions of this word, but for the purpose of this post, the first definition is important.

“The act of taking or receiving something offered”.

The act of taking or receiving something offered? Taking or receiving ADD? How exactly does a person go about taking or receiving ADD?

Let’s face it, you don’t exactly have a choice. You have to take AND receive ADD because you can’t give it back. As much as you would like to…

Perhaps it is easier to explain what acceptance is not. It’s not self-deprecation. It’s not beating yourself up. It’s not making excuses and it’s certainly not trying to be something you’re not!

Acceptance does look a little something like this…

“I know by now that I need to plan my day in advance if I hope to get anything done. My ADHD makes me think I “wing it”, even though that seldom works out. Sometimes it does and those times are so good, I wish it could always be like that. But if I don’t plan, there’s a better chance my day won’t go as well as it could. Sometimes, I’m overly optimistic – which can be a good thing, in some situations. But I am learning to become more realistically-optimistic when it comes to planning my day!”

What did you notice there? An objective analysis, rather than negativity or unrealistic positivity. An examination of all angles. A focus on learning. An awareness of how the self operates in tandem with ADHD. An endorsement of both strengths and challenges. A spirit of acceptance with a commitment to ongoing work at positive change.

What you didn’t notice was criticism or judgement. Not of the self or the ADD that goes along with it.

Why is this important? Because ADD is a defiant bugger. The angrier you get at it, the more it will act out. Have you ever had an argument with a difficult person? The more you engage in the argument, the more difficult they become? That’s your ADD – acting out, because it feels misunderstood.

Sometimes, in order to manage life better, you first need to change the dynamic in your relationship with your ADHD.

Some of you out there are struggling with the realities of living with ADD. I’d like to ask the rest of you to share your stories of personal growth and self-acceptance, so that we can reach out and help our tribe members who are struggling! Please share in the comments below.

(P.S. I’ve heard from some readers that they’re often afraid of commenting, for fear that they won’t be able to express themselves the way they’d like to come across. Here at The Art of ADD we promote a spirit of acceptance that allows you to say whatever is in your heart, however you are able to say it – so go ahead and say it!)

Mindset

Resolutions: Making Change Easier

Happy New Year!

Sorry for being so cheery while you’re down in the trenches, recovering from the season’s excesses. But I wanted to catch you before you lingered there too long, trading in your excesses for excuses. You know, the kind that keep you from making good on your New Year’s resolutions?

Last New Year, I wrote about Mindfulness. Today, I would like to tackle a harder topic.

Change.

Specifically – how to make it easier.

Most of us fail (Do you hear me? FAIL!!!) to keep our resolutions longer than a few weeks. Nothing new there. There are many reasons why we find it hard to change. I don’t care about any of them. All I care about is making change easier.

Last month I read (and then re-read, which I seldom do) the best book I have ever come across on the topic of change. It is called Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, by Chip Heath & Dan Heath.

Today, I’m going to share with you what I’ve learned. My inclination is to explicate my learning in the form of a rather long book report. I love this book that much – I would be willing to revert to high school drudgery just to share my excitement.

But I know you don’t want to eat the whole cake, you just want to lick the icing off the top. So instead I will give you an ADD-digestible precis of the best bits – for those of you who haven’t read it, won’t read it, or don’t read period. If you want to eat the whole cake, go get it.

The Icing

Switch dissects change and blows it wide open. It unravels the mysteries of why it is hard to change and, more importantly, how we can make change easier.

Chip and Dan tell us that the biggest reason most of us find it hard to change is this:

“Your brain isn’t of one mind”.

Basically, there are two sides to our minds:

  • The Emotional Side – The Heath’s refer to the emotional side as “the elephant”. This is the side that is emotionally-driven, runs on instincts, wants immediate gratification and gives in to desires. The elephant likes to drink pina coladas in the rain.
  • The Rational Side – This is the logical-thinking, conscious and deliberate part of the brain, the side that plans, analyzes and exerts self-control. Switch refers to it as “the rider”. The rider likes to think about drinking pina coladas, count their calories and then reschedule them for a day with a fairer forecast.

The reason we don’t change is because our “elephants” and “riders” do not gel. When they disagree, the elephant always wins. Have you ever got in the way of an elephant and his chocolate bar?

If you want to get traction on making a change, you’ve got to get your elephant and rider in sync with each other. This is crucially important if you have ADHD.  Depleted dopamine means ADDers are hardwired to seek immediate gratification and pleasurable experiences. Malfunctioning prefrontal cortexes mean poor self-control and decision-making.

Compared to other people:

Our elephants are bigger and our riders have wandered off.

Riders know that short term sacrifices are necessary to achieve long-term goals. But self-control is a limited resource, especially with ADHD. When the rider fatigues, the elephant does what he wants. After 2 or 5 or 10 days of eating well and saying no to dessert, the rider gives up and the elephant eats the cake.

(Side note – my rider starts a new diet every Monday. Every Monday – for two years now. Seems my rider has a very obstinate elephant to contend with.)

Chip and Dan tell us:

“So when you hear people say that change is hard because people are lazy or resistant, that’s just flat wrong. In fact, the opposite is true: Change is hard because people wear themselves out.”

It would seem, then, that we need to train the rider to be stronger. Not so. It’s a common misconception to think that all we need is a better plan or to work harder.

You see, the elephant is the one with the power. If we get him on our side, change is inevitable.

When motivated, the elephant gets things done. Without the elephant on his side, the rider plans, over-analyzes and runs in circles, but doesn’t get anywhere. If we want lasting change, we have to break through to the elephant and guide the rider.

You’ve had the Icing. Now, Here’s Some Cake.

The Heath’s three-part “system” completely simplifies the process of change. If you want to know more about making change easier, I will condense the rest of the book into a sort of cake-pop for you. In order to change, you need to:

1. Direct The Rider

Change is hard because we overcomplicate it. ADDers can lack clarity by thinking too much instead of taking action. Finding the right course of action is helped by:

  • Looking for “bright spots” – imitate past successful efforts. Look for what is already working and do more of it.
  • Making positive choices easy. Create clear guidance and specific rules around your new behaviours. Take the ambiguity out of change.
  • Focussing on where, not why. Create a vivid picture of your destination in your mind.  Show the rider where he is going. If the destination is compelling enough, he will figure out how to get there.

 

2. Motivate the Elephant

People fail to change not because they don’t know what to do, but because they don’t feel the change’s importance. We need to feel passionate about the changes we are making. Here’s how to get our elephants passionate:

  • Focus on positive feelings. Positive feelings encourage us to broaden our interests and become open to new ideas and experiences. This is particularly important to someone with ADHD, whose brain only truly engages with concepts that interested it.
  • Don’t raise the bar, lower it. Notice the little ways in which you are already closer to achieving your goal than you think. Focusing on the progress you have made rather than how far you have to go helps you do this.
  • Aim for small improvements rather than big shifts. Just as a snowball gains girth and momentum rolling down the hill, small steps taken towards your goal will eventually spiral. Focus on small, visible goals and consistently take steps towards them – until you reach a tipping point.
  • Develop an identity around your goal. Think about the change as an important part of who you are becoming.
  • Expect failure along the way. Abilities are muscles that can be strengthened, even through set-backs. Focussing on how you are growing keeps you moving forward towards the change.

 

3. Shape the Path

People will usually take the easiest path. Even when your rider and elephant aren’t synchronized, changes are made possible by creating an easy path to follow.

  • Tweak your environment. Make your new behaviour easier and the ones you don’t want, harder.
  • Build Habits. Small tweaks can add up to a big difference.
  • “Rally the herd.” Behaviour is contagious, so hang out with people who are seeking the same changes you are.
  • Keep it going. Change is a process. Reinforce “good behaviours” with acceptable rewards.

 

So there you have the icing and the cake pop of what I have learned about change, in a condensed form. The writers of Switch don’t make false promises that their system makes change easy. But they do suggest it will make change easier. I think that’s an offer we can all be happy with.

Though I have kept my summary concise, I do suggest you go and get the book. There are so many valuable nuggets in this book, it really is worth the investment of your time. However, if you aren’t much of a reader, I suggest trying an audio book. I only really “discovered” them this year but because of them, my reading list has grown exponentially – I’m now tallying around 40 books this year alone. Thank you audio books!

Tell me what you think about this post in the comments below. What are you trying to change this year? Do you think this post will help you in any way or does it just suck? Please share!

 

Growth

25 Simple Ways to Transform Your Life This New Year

Christmas is the time of giving.

But New Year, for many, is the time for receiving – new opportunities anyway. It is the time for redesigning life and initiating changes that will make the coming year more successful, productive, enjoyable, healthy, happy and rewarding. If you want the coming year to bring with it more of these things, the following guide can help you bring them to fruition.

Remember this though: change is a process, not an event. Work on a couple of these things and positive changes will occur. Consider your efforts in life-transformation to be a “work-in-progress” rather than a one-time event, and this will go a long way to making sure changes actually take place.

For a quick reference, the following steps will be explored:

1. Celebrate the small successes.

2. Let go of negative thinking habits.

3. Change one small thing.

4. Practice pausing.

5. Deal with, once and for all, one major inconvenience.

6. Practice making eye contact.

7. Build your boredom muscle.

8. Practice square breathing.

9. Spend more time in nature.

10. Rewrite the story of your life.

11. Rewrite the story of your future.

12. Make a commitment to get some help.

13. Get an accountability partner.

14. Start every day as you mean to go on.

15. Determine what your values are.

16. Follow you passion.

17. Put more passion in to the mundane.

 

1. Celebrate small successes.

Who doesn’t want to get more done? When we have so much going on in our lives and our minds, life can feel a bit like forest fire-fighting with a water pistol.

One of the best ways to get more done is to acknowledge – and truly appreciate – all that you have already done. Finished projects are once-in-awhile phenomena. Every endeavor has a series of necessary steps taken that get it to the point of completion. Learn to acknowledge, celebrate and feel good about each of these steps and it will keep you motivated, focused and feeling that your efforts are worthwhile.

Gratitude journals help you find more joy in life. In the same token, keeping a list of daily accomplishments (no matter how small) can help you feel more productive and satisfied with how you spend your time.

 

2. Let go of negative thinking habits.

No matter where you go or who you are with, the one constant you take with you in life is – you!

Your thoughts determine how you experience life. They are what make you human as opposed to a fur-less mammal. Life is a lot better when you make your head a nicer place to experience it from.

Black and white thinking, jumping to conclusions, assuming the worst, and neglecting the positives are just a few examples of unhelpful thinking habits that stop us from getting the most out of life.

 

Change negative thinking patterns by:

– notice negative thoughts when they pop up

– determining what triggered them

– label them as negative (not pessimistic necessarily, just a thought that doesn’t work for you)

challenge them

– then let them go

 

3. Change one small thing.

Everyone knows that going to bed before midnight, eating right, and regular exercise are good for our bodies and our brains.  But when we have less-than ideal habits in all of these areas, it can feel like an onerous task to change.

Because we usually commit to changing too much, we give are destined to slip back in to old habits quickly. If this is the case for you, set your sights lower. Pick one small change you can easily achieve and go for it.

Instead of trying to get to bed early every night, try for 10 minutes earlier or aim for an early night once a week. Rather than eliminating all simple carbs and sugars from your diet, make a decision to simply add in more vegetables and water. Try jogging on the spot for ten minutes every day, rather than committing to a gym membership that won’t get used.

Positive habits can have a knock on effect and inspire you to make more changes later on. The most important thing about developing a new habit is not the size of the impact it will have on your life, but its degree of “stick-to-it-ness”.

 

 4. Practice pausing.

 Mindfulness practice has been shown to have a positive effect on … almost everything.

The art of mindfulness is often assumed to be complicated and difficult but it needn’t be. Even the busiest minds can be trained to incorporate more presence in each day.

Yongey Mingyur-Rinpoche, Buddhist master and author of The Joy of Living, suggests that the practice of mindfulness is best learned by beginning with short bursts of being present with yourself – even 5 minutes a day can help. Simply notice what you are thinking about or doing – observe it without judgment – and bring yourself back to the moment.

 

The best question you can ask yourself each day is:

 “How is what I am paying attention to serving me right now?”

Ask it several times a day. While you are building this muscle, you may need some reminders. Post reminders around the house or office, or schedule check-in periods into your daily planner.

 

5. Deal with, once and for all, one major inconvenience.

What are you putting up with?

Have you got a closet door that can’t be closed without a human bulldozer to ram it shut? Maybe it’s an un-filed tax claim being used to shield the corner of your desk from dust. Or have you put off returning that call from moaning Auntie Milly – since 1989?

We all have things we put up with it because it feels easier to “put up” than to deal with them. But these kinds of “tolerances” occupy space in the back of our minds and consciences. They are not out-of-sight, out-of-mind – they linger and beckon us with feelings of guilt, annoyance, or frustration. These spaces could be better used for more productive things if we simply faced up to the tasks and got ‘em done.

Free up some space in your mind and deal with one thing you have been putting off.

Then, as is number one, celebrate the success of having finally completed it.

 

6. Practicing making eye contact.

We talk to people all day long. But do we listen? Especially when we have ADD?

Busy minds do not shut up simply because someone else is talking. Sometimes, we need anchors to keep us in the present moment so that we can really hear what is being said.

When someone talks to you, make a habit of stopping what you are doing and looking them in the eye. It will give you an anchor to stay in the moment and listen. If eye contact is too uncomfortable for you, trying looking at the other person’s mouth as they speak.

 

7. Build up your tolerance to doing one thing at a time (aka build you boredom muscle).

If there is one thing most of us dread (or perhaps have an allergy to) – its boredom. So much so, that we often try to fill every minute of the day in an effort to avoid it.

This often shows up as multi-tasking. Once in awhile, practice paying attention to only the thing you are doing. Do it as if it were the most important thing you have ever done. Step outside of your body for a minute and observe what it feels like just to be alive and doing that one thing, and boredom will become an opportunity for inspiration.

Pay attention to the way that task serves a greater purpose than the obvious one. Washing dishes is no doubt mundane. But doing it means you don’t have to do them later when they’ve become casualties of an accidental science experiment (being responsible). It means that you are being productive (being useful). It means that you are looking after your belongings (being thoughtful), taking care of things that other people put a lot of effort into making (being respectful)….

Okay so maybe that’s a trite example, but you see what I mean.

We often assume that we can get more done by multitasking, but the truth is people are incapable of paying full attention to more than one thing at a time. Inevitably this means that we only give partial effort and attention to some of our tasks, which can actually make them take longer to complete.

Do one thing and do it well, before moving on to the next thing. Read Unclutterer’s post Single-tasking helps you get more done with less stress.

 

8. Practice square breathing.

 Zen Habits, read by millions worldwide, has this as its tagline –

“Breathe”

That’s it. Simple, eh?

But breathing is something most of us do pretty shoddily every day.

We spend so much time listening to the constant chatter in our heads telling us what to do, how to do it, when to do it and when to stop – that automatic but crucially important body functions such as breathing can become stiff and tense.

Take a few moments a day to listen to your heart and your lungs. Simply breathe to melt away the tension, stress and chaos.

Square breathing is a simple but effective way of reducing stress. Imagine following the lines of a square as you breathe in to a count of four, hold the breath for a count of four, then exhale for four seconds and again hold the breath for a count of four. Repeat – four times, four times a day (or more!).

 

9. Spend more time in nature.

Spending more time in the natural world brings most people calmness and a feeling of being grounded and centered. It also inspires creativity. You don’t need to live on the coast or in the mountains to find nature. A city park, botanical centre or even a communal garden can offer a much needed break from the concrete jungle.

Sometimes, a little bit of the outdoors can be a great natural remedy for our concentration woes.

10. Rewrite the story of your life.

Disappointment, failures, and mistakes are a part of life for everyone with a pulse.

The stories we tell ourselves about the mistakes we’ve made are fairy tales. Not the nice, touch-feely, warm Walt-Disney-kind. The harsh, brutal, scare-mongering kind that circulated pre-20th century, warning the poor children of those times to tow the line or they would face uncertain death by some horrible, mythical figure.

These days, that mythical figure is the voice of guilt and shame that lives in our heads.

We waste time feeling bad about something that is as innate to being human as breathing is. Mistakes are there to serve us, not to hold us back.

“You can only go forward by making mistakes”

                                                         Alexander McQueen

Let go of old shame and disappointment. Rewrite your life story by focusing on what was learned and how it will help you in the future.

 

11. Write the story of your future.

Every moment is a new start.

Write your success story of where you will be this time next year – what you are doing, how you feel, what your environment is like and what the people in your life notice is different about you.

Write it in the present tense, as if it is happening now. Sometimes, we work best when we start from the destination and work backwards. Start with the end in mind, as if what you really want from life has already happened, and make space in your heart for that end to become reality.

“Dreams are the seedlings of realities”

                                               James Allen

Visualize the end product and the series of steps that got you there. Then visualize yourself taking each one of those steps.

All great endeavors start with a powerful vision.

 

12. Make a commitment to get some help.

Pick one area of your life or task that is incomplete and holding y0u back from getting what you really want in life. Decide to get some help, whether that means enlisting a friend or family member, or even hiring someone.

We often tell ourselves that we should be able to do certain things and refuse to get help even when it could make life a lot easier.

Just because you could (technically) cut your own hair – doesn’t mean you should! Let the people who are good at cutting hair do it (or whatever it is you need help with!) and do what you are good at!

If your house is a disaster – hire a cleaner or a professional organizer. If your finances are in shambles – find a good financial adviser or budgeting expert. If you have dreams you haven’t quite reached or have ADHD challenges that continue to wreak havoc in your life – hire a professional coach.

There is no shame in getting help, only in letting pride get in the way of asking for help that would enable you to excel in that area of life that is holding you back.

13. Get an Accountability Partner.

This can be a professional life coach or even just a good friend who has your best interest at heart.

Accountability partnerships are designed to help you meet your goals and keep your commitments. Sometimes, we don’t make ourselves or our desires important enough to be accountable to them. We let other things get in the way because we don’t value our own intentions.

But when we have someone else checking in on us, those goals and desires become more important to us, simply because we are being held accountable for them. A bit like a weekly weigh-in ca help keep you on track with a diet, a weigh-in on your goals and commitments can be great motivators for keeping you on task.

Accountability partnerships are set up with complete collaboration and transparency. You decided what you want to be accountable for, and how you want your partner to respond when you don’t live up to your commitment. They can help productivity, and when done in a professional coaching context – inspire personal growth and development.

 

 

14. Start every day as you mean to go on.

No one wakes up hoping their going to have a bad day.

But the way most of us wake up and start each day is often good-mood-conducive. The way we start the day impact our moods from the get-go and set the pace for the rest of the day.

Make the first thing you do on getting out of bed be something that will put you in a positive mood. Smile, sing your favorite song to yourself or have a boogie in the shower. Make yourself laugh for no reason, say a prayer or meditate, or recite out loud your gratitude list.

It’s not guaranteed to make your whole day go swimmingly. But it will certainly help to get you in a happier mindset from the start. It certainly has a much better chance of lifting your spirits than hitting the snooze button eight times, grumbling as you role out of bed, and hitting the shower like a life-sentenced inmate of the Daily Grind Penitentiary.

Practicing positive wake-ups everyday will have an accumulative effect and become habitual over time.

 

15. Determine what your values are.

“I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want. So tell me what you want, what you really, really want”

The Spice Girls

(smiles to myself… yes, I did just put the Spice Girls in here!)

When we are acting inline with our values, life becomes much more fulfilling.

The only problem is, because life is so busy sometimes it becomes difficult to be sure of what it is we really value. Or what we really want from life.

Make the time to figure this out. Set aside a couple of hours to brainstorm and write out the things that you truly value in life.

Keep the list with you. When you are struggling with a task, take the list out and see if it fits in with one of your core values.

This can help keep you motivated by reminding you why it is you are doing it. It can give you permission to abandon a task altogether if it serves no purpose and does not align with your values. And it can help you choose new goals when your not sure what you are doing at all.

16. Follow your passion.

This seems to be one of the hottest topics out there in the blogosphere – following your passion.

But not everyone knows what they are passionate about.

If you have been longing for your life’s passion, but nothing in life (yet) has inspired you to this extent – don’t fret. Passion can grow. Pick something that interests you, even if your not passionate about it – and grow it.

“We must act out passion before we can feel it”

                                                        Jean-Paul Sartre

No one understand this dilemma better than my husband. He has searching for his passion the entire thirteen years I have known him.

This year, he decided to invest more of himself in his photography. A few months ago he deliberated whether or not he should continue pursing it. He enjoyed photography, but he didn’t feel passionate about it. But for whatever reason, he carried on.

Now, he has made a career out of it.

I’m not sure if he feels that illustrious “passion” for it or not. The fact that he spends several hours a day with his camera in hand or his head buried in Photoshop (even after the work is done), that his eyes automatically search for the perfect “photo opp” everywhere we go, and that he sees things in pictures that are invisible to me (maybe he’s woken up to the matrix and I haven’t?) – leads me to believe he might just be growing a passion.

 

17. Put more passion into the mundane.

Its good to follow your bliss if you can, but regardless of what the pop-prophets tell you, not everyone can make a living from their passion. Bills need to be paid and mouths need to be fed while you are trying to find your bliss.

But everyone can put more passion into what they are already doing.

Mindfulness, focusing on how your daily tasks feed your values, starting each task with the same joy you now start each day – are all easy ways to put more passion in to the ordinary tasks of daily living.

 

Try some of these things out in the next few weeks and take notice of the impact they have on your life. As stated before, transformation is a process, not an event. But the more that you work at it, the more solidified these changes in your life will become.

Have some ideas of your own? Share them in the comments below!

Mindset

5 Myths About Confidence with ADHD (Debunked!)

If you don’t feel confident in who you are as a person with ADHD, then mastering any ADHD challenges you face is pointless.

Who would you be trying to master them for? Other people? Why? So they can be happier with you, even if you’re not going to be happy with yourself?

What would that say to other people? That you aren’t worth the effort, but they are? Sell yourself out, basically?

Confidence is an elusive and abstract concept. I happen to have an affinity for making the abstract more transparent and accessible. You don’t have to agree with my conceptualizations. I am so confident in my beliefs that I welcome objections.

Confidence is something that many people struggle with, and even more so when you have ADD. When the way the world is built, structured and organized is almost directly oppositional to the way your brain works – finding your confidence in that world can be a bit like looking for Waldo wearing kaleidoscope glasses.

At the same time, how confident you are with you ADHD all depends on how you choose to view it.

If you want to get truly confident in yourself, you need to know what this thing is you are striving for. There are a lot of fallacies about confidence that need to be exposed. These false beliefs about confidence may be the very things stopping you from actually getting it.

 

1. Confidence is something you’re born with.

The only traits we know, beyond doubt, that people are born with is their natural propensity towards having skin, teeth, organs, bones and hair (until middle age, anyway). Even eye colour changes around six months of age.

There are many diagnosable conditions that experts surmise are present from birth. Self-esteem and confidence are not any of these conditions.

Plenty of attentive and well-meaning parents breed non-confident children. Many children are born more introspective and shy. These two things do not exclude one from being confidant. Yes, you can be quiet and confident. On the other hand, I have known exuberant and outgoing children who have been reared by introverted parents. Again, confidence is not tied to your personality or style of relating to people.

It is certainly not tied to genetics.

 

2. Confidence is the result of achievement.

Achievement certainly adds kindling to the fire of self-confidence. Several studies indicate that ultimately the best way to foster a child’s self-esteem is not to bolster it with floods of praise, but to give them ample opportunities to achieve a feeling of self-efficacy. That is – give them opportunities to challenge themselves and succeed. Acknowledge their effort and dedication rather than an innate ability(being naturally good at something) that they have no control over. This gives them a feeling of mastery and develops their internal-locus of control – a phenomena closely linked to resilience in life.

However, if that sense of self-efficacy is lacking in adulthood, we lose the courage to challenge ourselves. Our history tells us it’s pointless. Experience of “failures” and criticisms prevent us from exposing ourselves to further humiliation and we tell ourselves that it is better not to try at all.

The irony is that we will never feel better about ourselves unless we try.

Sometimes we need to start with a bit of self-confidence, a little seed that can be sprouted with gentle care and nurturing, and planted to grow on its own against the elements once it is heartier. Confidence won’t grow out of nothing. Plant the seedling safe in your heart first. When it is stronger and ready to bud, you will be readier to challenge yourself again.

Seedlings of confidence start sprouting when you look for the small successes. No success is too small to overlook. The smallest of achievements, when focused on a celebrate, will combine and grow together into much bigger accomplishments.

 

 3. Confidence is fixed.

Once you are confident, you will never doubt yourself again right?

No. This is one of the most damaging falsehoods commonly perceived about this topic.

The truth is, confident people frequently lack confidence.

Huh? Yes, that is exactly it – confidence waxes and wanes in different times and situations in life.

However, intrinsically confident people consciously accept the ebb and flow of it. They know there are times they will doubt themselves. The difference is – they don’t endorse feelings of un-sureness as a truth or statement about themselves. They accept the feeling will go away and that feeling down about yourself is not the same as loathing yourself.

They don’t attach confidence to their identity.

They don’t say “I knew I was crap! I will never amount to anything.” They say “I am feeling like crap right now. But I have plenty of reasons to believe that I won’t feel this way forever.”

Why is this idea so damaging?

If you believed that ultimate confidence is something to be achieved as an end result, like winning The X Factor or becoming UFC’s next victor, you wouldn’t bother trying very hard for it. That ideal would be so incomprehensible to your psyche it would seem impossible.

The climb to that ideal would feel too hard to even bother trying. And even if you did pursue it, any little event that challenged you along the way would send you sailing back down the pit.

But knowing that confidence is something you can build upon, step by step, makes it feel so much more achievable. The path to confidence is not an elevator ride straight to the top. It is a slow-escalator ride, that perhaps does a little reverse every once in a while.

Little bursts of confidence then tap into that self-efficacy thing we talked about a minute ago. A positive cycle emerges…

 

4. Confidence is global.

Truly confident people feel confident in all situations.

If you believe that, then you’ve got a case of mistaken identity, like when you confuse actors who resemble each other or mix up the plots of two similar stories.

As in the point made in #3, truly confident people do not feel confident in all situations. But they accept themselves in all situations. They have a worth that is not threatened by holding their hand up and saying “I’m out of my depth here”.Confidence doesn’t mean being the best. It means being okay with not being good at something at all – and still feeling good about yourself. Its about knowing what is important for you to care about, and what isn’t. 

 

4. Confidence is arrogant.

Wrong answer. Arrogance is arrogance. Conceit is conceit. Confidence is neither of these things.

Confidence is an acceptance of yourself, as you are. It is the willingness to try, even when you may fail. It is being okay with the fact that you are flawed but not letting those flaws stand in the way of your happiness. It means not letting your flaws dictate how you feel about yourself, and maybe even celebrating some of your failures as wonderful learning experiences.

Confidence is also accepting that other people are flawed too, and that their flaws do not determine their worth or abilities.

Confident people make other people feel good about themselves just being around them. Boastful, egoistic and narcissistic people who appear confident, but annoy and intimidate other people, actually exemplify non-confidence in its most complicated form. Those elaborate defense mechanisms merely masque a highly vulnerable and fragile sense of self-worth at the core. The most dangerous form of non-confidence, these people aren’t even aware of it.

Truly confident people have no need to belittle others because how they feel about themselves and their abilities has absolutely no dependence on the attributes of others.

 

5. I don’t deserve to feel confident.

I saved this one for last because it is one of the most influential beliefs that keep people down. It’s a huge issue and we really need to talk about it.

So I ‘m not going to.

Until next week!

In the mean time, you may want to prepare yourself for the road to confidence by what knowing what kind of fight you are in for and what kind of steps you can start taking now.