I've been wrestling lately with the idea of creating habits when you have ADHD.
It sounds great in theory.
Just put in some work up front to build the habit, then enjoy your new life where everything gets done automagically with little effort!
I've read books like Atomic Habits that give really great advice on how to build habits, breaking it into an easy to understand and seemingly logical step-by-step process.
But inevitably, my efforts to build these habits often ends up failing.
One day, I forget to do The Thing, and then my brain forgets to do it ever again. It's gone, and in its place is the guilt and shame of my failure to accomplish what seemed so easy and logical in theory.
I think part of the problem is the expectation a habit will be automatic.
The only habits I have that are automatic seem to be the bad habits like biting my nails, checking social media every time I grab my phone, and impulsively spending money I don't really have.
In fact, when you read a list of "bad habits", it almost reads like a list of common ADHD symptoms.
I find the things that actually do work are mostly based on tricking myself into remembering to do a thing.
One trick I use at night is to tell myself "Bedtime, four" to remind myself that there are 4 things I need to do before I go to bed: lock doors, turn off lights, set alarm, and brush teeth.
But this trick only works sometimes. If I forget to say this out loud, I might remember to turn off the lights, but forget everything else.
If I find that it's stopped working altogether, I know the solution isn't to just feel bad about it and "try harder"—that will only bring on useless shame (which most of us have already experienced a lifetime's worth of shame) and not solve the problem.
No, instead it's time to lean into my creativity and come up with a new trick that might work for awhile. Maybe it's a whiteboard or reminder app, maybe it's a note left on the stairs by my wife, maybe it's something much more creative involving a Rube Goldberg machine or something of that nature.
But it most likely will be another temporary solution.
And I'm learning to be okay with that.
Stay focused, Jesse J. Anderson
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