It’s that time of the year once again: time to reflect on the past 12 months and set goals for what we hope to achieve in 2018. However, when ADHD is in the mix, setting goals and sticking to them is often easier said than done.
The actual process of envisioning your goals is the fun part—it gives us a surge of dopamine as we visualize the end result. However, after several months (or maybe only a few days or weeks!) of working toward our goals, we tend to reach a plateau and the excitement wears off— the goal is no longer “sparkly.”
Here are some “ADHD-friendly” tips to support you in setting- and reaching- your goals in 2018:
Identify 1 to 3 specific goals & write them down
- Less is more. Setting and achieving 1-3 goals is far more manageable and less overwhelming than trying to achieve 6-8 goals.
- Be specific. A goal to “exercise more” is too broad. What does “more” look like? Describe where you want to be at the end of the year.
- For example, “Exercise 3x/week for 30 minutes.”
- Write it down! This is the fun part—the brainstorm process where you can envision what you’d like to accomplish in the new year. Write it down in a fun way—be creative…whatever works for your brain!
Break down your first goal into micro-steps:
…For example, if your goal is to exercise in the morning 3x/week for 30 minutes…
Your 1st micro-step might be: to set out workout clothes the night before or begin by waking up 10 minutes earlier each morning.
Your 2nd micro-step might be to walk for 5 minutes each of those mornings.
Continue building upon each micro-step until you reach your ultimate goal.
Create a visual cue
- Choose a visual cue, like a wall calendar to support your brain to “see” your goal
- Hang it somewhere you will easily see it- such as in the kitchen or the wall by your bed
- Track the days you exercise (simply mark the day with a check or write down how many minutes you exercised). Keep it simple!
Reward your successes, big and small!
- To help keep your brain engaged in working towards your goal, build in rewards for completing each micro-step
- For example, if you set out exercise clothes for the first week- reward yourself with a new workout top or a colorful, new water bottle. Whatever the reward, celebrate a job well done and remind yourself that you’re a step closer to achieving your goal.
- Mark down the days you exercise on a calendar. This simple act can be a reward in and of itself. It provides visual reinforcement of our progress- which can help create the motivation and energy we need to continue!
Write it down! (Start a Personal Operations Manual)
- Your brain may not remember how you achieved your goal- especially if ADHD is in the picture
- Track your progress in a journal or begin your own “Personal Owner’s Manual” (POM)
- By jotting down notes about what worked (using a wall calendar) and what didn’t (trying to remember your plans without writing them down)- you will have a personalized template to guide you when it is time to set new goals!