Mindset

The Purpose of the Curious but Unfocused Life  

curious

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.   

Mindset

Passion We Can All Access (Really!)

 

Life can feel pretty empty at times. Yet I hate all the stale maxims about passion out there.

Follow your passion and … what???

It’s fine advice for retirees with nothing else to do. When you have mouths to feed and heads to put a roof over, passion is the last thing to worry about.

Besides, most of us don’t know what we’re passionate about. They don’t teach passion in school, unless you count teenage experimentation as extracurricular instruction.

Even if we were lucky enough to feel rapturous about something, who’s got the time to do anything about it?

Just stop wasting time, they say. Productivity experts propose cutting out TV or social media as if they are soul-sucking, passion-decoys. Give up these time wasters and you’ll have at least a couple of extra hours a day. Great advice, but it neglects the reason we rely on these crutches in the first place.

After a long day, your brain is numb and you have no energy for anything else. That’s why you flake out in front of a screen every night. A fatigued and dazed mind isn’t apt to feeling passionate about anything. Screen time asks nothing of you. Which is good because, most nights, you have nothing left to give.

Get up early, they say. Successful people start their day while everyone else is still in bed.

I don’t see the logic… passion is an entity awoken by an alarm clock?

Day in and out, we go through the motions, exhausted by the sheer irrelevance of the “to do” lists we serve. The lists that are, by the way, fertilized by pen ink and grow larger each time we strike an item off. We make a bed, it gets unmade. We wash a dish, it gets dirty again. We pay a bill… whammo! It comes around again the next month.

Not exactly the ideal life we imagine we’d have when we find our passion, is it? Yet beds will still get unmade and dishes will get dirty, even when you’re living out your dream.

There is one quote I do like, really like, about passion.

Scott Adams (Dilbert creator) writes:

“Naturally successful people want you to believe that success is a by-product of their awesomeness, but they also want to retain some humility. You can say passion was the key to your success because everyone can be passionate about something or other. Passion sounds more accessible. If you’re dumb there’s not much you can do about it, but passion is something we think anyone can generate in the right circumstances. Passion is very democratic. It’s the people’s talent, available to all. It’s also mostly bullshit.” (How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big)

Thanks Scott, I couldn’t have said it any better myself.

Here’s the solution.

You were hoping I’d get to the part where I make you feel better about the problem by now, weren’t you?

Well, here goes.

I don’t think that the key to a happy life is to do what you’re passionate about. We do what we do to get by. And most of the time, what we do kind of sucks. But it pays the bills.

Some of us will be lucky enough to find passions that pay well. Others do what they’re passionate about only to find that making a career out of it actually kills their passion.

Most of us, however, will go through the daily grind feeling less than satiated. Perhaps we’ll even feel a bit numb. Or bored. Or empty.

What we can do, in these instances, is this:

We can learn to be more passionate about living.

Let me be clear: by this I don’t mean Nike-advert, just get out there and do it, carpe diem, seize-the-moment passionate.

I mean this kind of (real life, accessible to all) passion:

Holy crap, I’m alive! Of course, I’m dying every day (as each of us are) but for now, I am still alive. I get to work and live in a first world country, where I have access to food, clothing, shelter and health care. Every day I wake up, without fear of violence or violation, because my world is basically safe. So safe, in fact, that I actually have no bigger concerns than what might or might not happen in the future. I have responsibilities and people that need me, which culminate in endless to-do lists demonstrating how rich my life really is. And the fact that I feel empty, despite all the busy things I do in a day, means that I am the owner of a brain capable of higher level, self-analyzing and reflective thinking.

In essence, life is not about following your passion.

Being alive is something to be passionate about. You could very easily be dead, or at least – much, much worse off than you are now.

Look around. See the beauty in the world around you. Eat some chocolate. Listen to music. Talk to a friend. Hug a child. Dance with your partner. Take a long shower. Run down a beach. Wear fuzzy pajamas. Draw a picture. Try a new recipe. Drive a different route to work. Smile at a stranger. Pray to God. Meditate. Think. Cry. Laugh. Love.

If you feel empty, be passionate about finding meaning in the small things in life. That kind of passion is not bullshit.

Mindset

13 Interrogation Tactics for a Confidence Break-Through (and why you deserve it)

IF YOUR CONFIDENCE HAS EVER BEEN AT ROCK BOTTOM, THEN MAYBE IT IS TIME TO HOLD THAT SELF-DOUBT ACCOUNTABLE FOR WHAT IT DOES TO YOUR LIFE…

The room is dark and damp, the lights are bright and oppressive. Self-loathing is in the interrogation room, charged with the crime of ruining your life. It says:

I don’t deserve to feel good about myself.

I have had so many failures and made so many mistakes, there is nothing in my life to feel good about. No matter how hard I try, I let people down. I let myself down. There is nothing about me to feel confident about. I don’t deserve it. I’m not good enough. 

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, Who am i to be brilliant,

Gorgeous, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

 

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking

So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine, as children do.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

 

It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.

And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously

Give other people the permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,

Our presence automatically liberates others.” 

                                                                                                   

Says the good cop, quoting Marianne Williamson.

Nice try. Sweet, poetic, moving words but they didn’t break through to your self-loathing whose conviction in its righteousness is inpenetrable. It won’t budge, won’t confess its sins.

Enter the bad cop.

He has only one question for self-loathing and its kind of a rhetorical one at that.

 

“Who the hell do you think you are?”

 

You can tell by the tone he’s not looking for existential prose.

He’s stating a pivotal truth.

 

You don’t deserve to feel bad about yourself.

 

Your self-loathing doesn’t buy that. It has plenty of bonafide reasons to believe it has every right to be there. Failures from your past, experiences that shaped your lack of confidence and criticisms from important people whose opinions really mattered at the time.

But the bad cop doesn’t give up just yet. He’s got plenty of staying power, just like your self-defeat. He challenges you with these concepts:

 1. You are human.

We all make mistakes. Everyone knows that. Nowhere in the book of life does it indicate a cut off point which divides the worthy from the unworthy. Fifty mistakes and you’re a-okay, 75 and you’re a loser? Its not in the rule book – go ahead and check.

2. Your life is a miracle.

I don’t care what you believe about the origin of the universe and mankind, the fact that you are alive is a miracle. The plight that one single sperm goes through to force itself through the millions of others, through hazardous and hostile environmental conditions, to penetrate the egg and form the union that made you – is a miracle.

To loathe “that you” is pure irreverence to the majesty and miracle of life.

3. You’re not here for you. 

You weren’t born to serve only your own purpose. If that were the case, you would have manifested as a virus or a parasite. You are here to make a difference, no matter how small it may seem, to the world and the people in it. Confidence in your worth opens the door to making that difference in a bigger way. Self-doubt keeps you locked in the closet.

 

4. You’re wasting time.

I’ve got some terrible news for you – you’re dying.

Every day we live, we are all dying. Its not a reason to get depressed. Its a valid and paramount reason to not waste a single minute of this life. This life that we have already established is a complete miracle.

If being small and self-oppressive serves in any way to make the most of your life, then go ahead and keeping on despising yourself. But most of the time, self-reproach stops you from doing valid and important things with your life.

 5. Your critics are human too.

The voices who have influenced your low opinion of yourself belong to people who have a multitude of their own sins. Casting stones may be one way of protecting themselves but it doesn’t mean that they have chosen the best self-defense strategy. Psychological offence is not the best defense, its the best demise of everyone involved.

6. Your inner critic doesn’t know everything.

If you are so wrong about everything, if you are such a failure and incompetent – why would that inner voice who tells you so be given so much undoubted authority? If you are incompetent, then isn’t it possible that inner critic is also incompetent?

7. You don’t know what you don’t know.

Lack of self-worth is usually a rigid, over-generalized belief that serves to feed itself by focusing on all the mistakes you have made in your life and your perceived inadequacies. No one with a strong conviction sets out to prove themselves wrong. How this translates in real life is that you never notice, or very frequently overlook or discount anything you have done that proves your worth and capability.

Self-doubt is a bias, a prejudice.

8. You aren’t omnipresent.

There is nothing about you that is always the same, all of the time. Its human nature to define the present and predict the future based on past experiences. But you are never exactly the same as you were the moment before. You are always capable of being different.

9. You aren’t omnipotent either.

You were designed to be flawed and make mistakes. Perfection is reserved for God, the Higher Power or Universe – however you choose to see it. Our flaws and mistakes are what challenge us to grow in spirit and determination. Which leads to the next point…

10. You’re stagnating.

You were made for growth and development. Hating yourself doesn’t help you grow. It keeps you oppressed.

11. You are in grave danger.

The voice of self-doubt usually grows as a protective mechanism to keep you from risking vulnerability and potential humiliation. What it also does is it exposes you to the risk of terminal disappointment. When you make it to 80+ years of age (God-willing) and you review the movie that was your life, you will rue all the things you never did or gave of yourself because you were filled with doubt.

You may also regret some lengths you went to in order to protect your fragile ego.

12. You’re setting a bad example.

If you are a member of any society (my apologies to cave-dwelling hermits who probably wouldn’t be reading this anyway), you are always influencing and affecting other people. Whether you mean to or not, feeling bad about yourself – to the extent that you don’t value who you are as being – says to others that there are particular standards that define worth. If those standards define you, they must define them.

Your self-reproach could inadvertently teach someone else to dislike themselves as well.

13. Your incapacitating humility is conceited and selfish.

Whoa, I can’t believe I really said that out loud.

Low blow, eh? I’m a bit nervous now, but let me explain. I have been locked in mental closet of rumination and self-reproach for many years, and now I am free I can say with experience I recognize its narcissism.

Worthlessness always has some roots in comparison. Its pretty conceited to think that your faults are so much worse than anyone else’s. Its arrogant to believe that the voice of self-doubt has more validity than any other possible opinion. Its selfish to hold yourself back from being your true self because of greed.

Greed? Yes, greed – indulging your own need for self-preservation while denying the world its right to benefit from the miracle of your unique contribution to it.

 

At the start of this series of gaining confidence as an ADDer, I told you I want to do everything I can to help you grow that confidence.

I didn’t say I was going to be nice about it.

If my hypothetical “bad cop” seemed a bit harsh, I can assure you that it wasn’t done sensationally or without good reason.

I know, intimately, what it is like to feel worthless and incompetent. I also know a lot about human psychology. Enough to know that the voice that feeds self-doubt is not kind or soothing. That voice is harsh, mean and just plain cruel.

That kind of voice does not respond to sweet and supportive words of encouragement like the beautiful sonnet from Marianne Williamson. It responds to a voice that lambastes it.

Fight fire with fire. So I have been cruel to be kind.

Please know this, as you finish reading this installment…

My “bad cop” was not talking to you. He was talking to the self-doubt that is interloping your psyche. If you want to start feeling more confident in yourself from this moment, the one thing you can do is make this differentiation.

That voice is not you. It’s just an opinion.

And opinions can be changed.

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. 

Productivity

Two Life Changing Tips To Manage Your Time Better

Everybody’s busy. Everyone needs more time. But apart from Dr. Who, none of us can control how fast it passes.

We do control how we spend the time we have. But even when we ADDers have time – we often fail to use it effectively. For several reasons: we don’t have a firm concept of how it passes, we aren’t realistic about what we can do with it, and we struggle to make the most of it.

There are plenty of great Internet resources that will teach you some techniques to manage these challenges. But I am more interested in experience than how-to’s. It makes no difference how well you spend your time if you don’t enjoy it while you are spending it.

Most people have too much on their plate. In yesteryears, families resorted to two incomes as a way to make ends meet. As wealth increased, we used the superfluous earnings we had improving our quality of life. But as a society seduced by consumerism, we’ve lost track of the difference between needs and wants. Often, we work for our things rather than our needs, sacrificing time for money.

No one needs an extra bedroom or a cottage at the lake. Granted, they are nice to have. A room for company to sleep in and a cottage for respite certainly improve quality of life. But only if you’ve made the conscious decision that they are worth the time and money they require. The point isn’t whether or not you should have these things, it is whether or not you value them enough to sacrifice your time.

The challenge for everyday tasks is no different. In order to get a firm grip on how you spend your time, it is important to clarify between your needs and your wants. More importantly, you need to clarify your values. Knowing why you are doing what you are doing, and whether the thing you are doing is something you value, helps you make more conscious choices over how you spend your time.

Which brings me to the next challenge we so often face: competing values. I value being a good mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, employee, coach, housekeeper, philanthropist… but I can’t be all of those things, all of the time. The sad truth is that when we spend time doing one thing we value, we unavoidably fail to spend time doing something else we value.

In Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness, Tal Ben-Shahar shares an anecdotal study that was done on women and happiness. He explains that women frequently report their least satisfying part of the day was the time that they were spending with their children. Not because they didn’t love their children or enjoy their company, but because the time they spent with them was often punctuated by multitasking and doing other things like chores, emailing, or talking on the phone. Quite simply, they were with their children in body but not in mind. Being with their kids simply highlighted the nagging sense that they weren’t really giving themselves over to their kids, but coping the best they could stretched out on life’s wooden horse.

Multitasking rarely makes life more enjoyable. But we do it, because it seems we have to. When was the last time you ate a meal and did nothing else? I mean – nothing else. No talking, driving, texting, opening emails, watching TV – only eating? Few of us sit down and just eat. Interestingly, unconscious eating is partially responsible for today’s obesity problem.  In his hugely successful series “I Can Make You Thin”, British hypnotist and neurolingistic programmer Paul McKenna advises that slow and deliberate eating, done in isolation of any other activity, is one key way to eat less and lose weight.

We don’t just need more time or less to do. We need to experience the time we have more fully, no matter how we are spending it. Stress doesn’t come from infinite to-do lists so much as it comes from the loss of seconds, minutes, hours or even days of your life. Doing five things at once is not time well spent. It’s the passing of a moment without ever really experiencing it.

This is one of the biggest challenges ADDers have with time. We are never really here, but a millions places at once. It’s hard to feel like you have any time when you’re never fully there to experience it.

If you want to make the most of your precious hours on this earth, you only need to focus on two things.

1. Quality

Increase the quality of the time you are spending (no matter what you are doing) by being as present as possible, whether it is through use of medication, mindfulness, single-tasking, or any other means. It may seem counterintuitive, but most people enjoy things more when they are present.

There is a way to slow time down. It’s called Mindfulness. Mindfulness can be extraordinarily hard to achieve at the best of times, let alone when you have ADD. Yet, it can be very simple at the same time. In the Joy of Living, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche makes it very accessible for amateurs. In its simplest form, it only requires you to notice and observe all that you are experiencing and doing in the present moment. And when you notice your mind slip out the back door and on to other things, you gently bring it back to the moment. You don’t even have to give up daydreaming (which I secretly love, when it is not interfering with other things in my life). You simply notice yourself daydreaming. And by doing so, you are present.

Slowing down and doing one thing at a time is another way to capture the moment, especially if you practice mindfulness at the same time. The idea of it may sound like nails on a chalkboard to us ADDers who thrive on momentum, velocity and multiple sources of stimulation. But a bit of slowing down once in awhile can actually make us more efficient, and even more fulfilled. I feel like a better mother when I am fully present during playtime with the kids, as hard as it is to do when Barbie vs Batman has had its third spontaneous plot change, directed by a 5 year old who demands perfection from the performance.

But feeling like a better mom lets me focus more clearly by removing any source of guilt when I shift my attention to other things later on. Sometimes, you have to pay attention in “installments” by bringing your mind back, over and over and over again.

You won’t be able to slow down and be mindful all of the time, but any time you do will add a great deal of quality to your life.

2. Quantity:

Increase the quantity of time you spend doing things you value by clarifying your values and differentiating your needs from wants. Some things need to be done, but not nearly as many things as we think. Thinking about the “why” behind your activity can make it more rewarding for you, if it is in line with your values. I don’t value cooking and would happily eat out everyday – but I do value providing a nutritious meal for the family and reserving our finances for other things. Being conscious of the “why” can make certain tasks less frustrating, even if they aren’t that enjoyable.

You may be irritated right now that I haven’t highlight ways for you to get more done. But I can almost guarantee that when you spend more time on things you truly value or conversely, find value in the things you are already doing, your time will be better spent. And when you stop and pay attention to those things, the roller coaster slows down.

Productivity

Time Is On My Side (No It’s Not)

hi

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

No, not the sound of a clock, but my head banging on the counter top. It’s a little hollow right now (my head) – hence the tick-tock rather than a bang-bang or thud-thud.

The elusive concept of time …. eludes me. I have always maintained that if days had more hours, my ADD would have half the challenges. You see, while I am a terrible organizer, haphazardly inattentive, and slow to get started on most things – I’m convinced that I would be none of these things if time simply waited for me. I can pay attention – but only after I get around to doing everything else on my list, so that a million things aren’t competing for my head space like an under-priced house in a seller’s market. I could also be more organized – if someone else’s deadlines didn’t dictate the time frame within which I must work. If this were the case, getting started would be a non-issue, because when I got started and how long it took – would be irrelevant.

The biggest problem with time is that it seems to be moving faster and faster. It could be a sign of the ages – too much to do and too little time. Or it could be a sign of my age. My dad always warned me that life is like a roll of toilet paper – the closer you get to the end, the faster it goes. Funny guy my dad, he’s the Cliff Claven of sayings involving bodily functions.

But I don’t think it’s really going faster (quantum physicist’s post your arguments below). We are  going faster and time simply matches our pace. Every night before I go to bed, I review the day’s events in comparison to the next day’s itinerary and think:

“It’s too much”.

See, twenty-four hours in a day really isn’t enough, but since it is all we get, we need to pace ourselves accordingly rather than cramming more into each second. But with ADD, there are two huge barriers to doing this.

1. We have no concept of time.

We don’t know how long something should take or how much time we need to complete it. We have no idea how we spend most of our time, simply because we often aren’t “there” while we are spending it. But most of all – our biggest challenge with time is that we are overly optimistic. Most authorities on managing ADD will advise you to project how much time you think a task will take and double it, in order to get a more accurate figure of the time it will actually take. I am fully aware of that fact. However, when I look at how much I can get done in a day (realistically) and compare it to what I want to get done, there is a gross mismatch between the figures. Deep down I really believe I should and could get those things done, if I only I could find the focus.

2. We frequently take on too much.

Everybody takes on too much these days; busy-ness is not segregated to ADDers but seems to be a global dilemma. Next time you see a friend and ask her how she is doing, I will bet you a million bucks (the ones roaming the Boreal Forest, not the ones sitting in Bill Gates’ bank account) that she says “Oh, I am soooooo busy!” We ADDers don’t necessarily take on more than any other group of people, but we certainly do take on more than is good for us. Again, because of our optimism (I should and could) and because of this simple phenomenon:

When the going gets tough, ADDers … up the ante. (Click to tweet)

 

Yep. That’s what we do. For example, I started coaching last year and have been busily growing my business. Apart from my family, coaching is my priority numero uno because – it’s the thing I really love to do. Then, I started this blog, which has become priority numero dos because (as it turns out) – it’s the other thing I really love to do. So I do these two things joyfully, while coasting along with the “day job” and making time for my family and  friends. I could also pretend that I make time for housework to try and look good, but the amount of time I spend doing that is an inconsequential drop in the bucket.

The week that this blog went live was a crazy-busy, but totally exciting time. It seems a long time ago now but was less than a month (thanks to you again, elusive Father Time). The day after the blog was first published, I did the only rational and normal thing a woman in my position would do – I decided to relocate. Not next door or across town, but 840 km (522 miles) west of here. Wrapped up in the excitement and enthralled with the sense of completion the blog gave me, I was inspired to finally make the decision I had been postponing for nearly a year. Because that’s how my brain works.

When ADDers get busy, we have a tendency to take on even more. Being busy, harried, and hanging on by the skin of our teeth activates our adrenaline, aka mother nature’s Ritalin. However, adrenaline has serious side effects if we rely on it long-term, and while it gives us a boost in the short-term, it doesn’t really increase productivity. But its not just the adrenaline we crave. While other people can get their noses to the grind when they really need to, ADDers need to get into the right mental state to get focused and productively active. When that state hits us, we don’t want to lose our momentum. So we decide to take it all on. And that’s the reason we believe we should and could do it all : because when we’re in hyper-focus, we can and do. At times, we “can” and “do” do more than anyone else “could” or “would”. The problem is, the momentum doesn’t last forever. Yet we seem to think that because we can get a lot done in hyperfocus, we can get that much done at other times. It’s a faulty principle. Hyper-focus is the exception, not the norm. If it was, your life would be very one-dimensional and devoid of enjoyment and rest. In short, you’d burn out.

So yes, we need to project a realistic view of how long things will actually take. And yes, we should learn to take on only what we can feasibly do in normal times, not hyper-focus times. But more importantly – we need to learn to appreciate what we are doing, when we are doing it. And we need to appreciate why we are doing all that we are. Because without meaning and purpose, all busy-ness is wasted effort. Thinking about the purpose behind our actions can put more joy into the time we do have. It can even slow time down.  Being fulfilled and full of joy transcends the ticking of the clock and nullifies the relevance of the passing seconds. It is time well-spent, not time maxed out.

Being busy or pushed for time doesn’t matter when you make each minute an important part of your day.

In the next post, we will explore time more and try to harness it like a cowboy halts a bucking bronco. But for now, please leave me your comments and share your experience of time and its challenges. I want to know that I am not the only one who can’t get a firm grip on the clock!