Imagine yourself at the end of the day, reviewing your to-do list, and every item is checked. Does it seem far-fetched to imagine that you could identify the things you need to do, budget time for each of them and, one by one, check them off your list? That may seem normal to most people, but not to those of us with ADHD. (Yes, I also have ADHD. And that’s me, in the picture.)
We know what it’s like to have our days derailed by the sight of a shiny object or a proverbial squirrel. We know what it’s like to hear repeatedly that we have “so much potential,” and “if only you would try harder”.
We know what it’s like to disappoint over and over the people we love the most.
Your Frustration is Real, Because ADHD is Real
ADHD involves the structure and function of the neurons in your brain. It’s not something that you can just overcome. You can’t simply “try harder” and make it go away.
You have tried plenty hard for years, and things just haven’t changed. And part of you may even be thinking they’re not going to change. But part of you thinks otherwise, which is why you’re here, reading about me and my clients, learning more about how I do what I do.
Seriously, that’s awesome. Even if, for whatever reason, we don’t end up working together, I’m delighted for you that you continue to root for yourself. (The right coach, you know, can help you get those neurons working to your advantage.)
So let me share a thought that you can put to use today:
Your ADHD may hinder your ability to see things through, but it also has a big upside.
Your ADHD fuels the strengths and creative energies that you may not even realize you have. Think about your ADHD in tension with itself. ADHD as yin-yang. In strength, vulnerability — and vice versa. Or whatever metaphor you choose. Know that your favorite metaphors really shape your story about you. And this story is the most important story you’ll ever tell.
If You Are Coachable, You Can Be Accountable
I came by this lesson of accountability with real difficulty, because I had to figure it out on my own.
I might have first learned this lesson at Case Western Reserve University, where I entered with an academic scholarship. Four years later, I left the stage at commencement with an empty envelope. I failed to complete two classes in my eighth semester and, only after summer school, did I receive my actual diploma.
In the just-after-college phase of my life, I worked as an accountant, in an era when ADHD was not well understood. Without proper strategies for time management, I regularly pulled all-nighters to complete my projects. When I decided on a career pivot to education, I returned to school and, for the most part, used a few strategies to manage my commitments and deadlines. These lessons came baptism-by-fire style, since the clinical folks were still working out who could be helped via the label of “ADHD.” For ages, it was just a fancy way for saying “hyperactive.”
Are You Tired of the Chaos? A Diagnosis Helps. So Can Mentors.
Luckily, I found a super-supportive environment at Marburn Academy, my first job in education. As part of my professional development, I learned more about ADHD. Shortly after that, I was diagnosed with ADHD. My struggles continued, but my division head was supportive, and sometimes generous to a fault.
“Christine, it’s okay not to have your grade reports done,” she once told me. “Nobody else has turned them in either.”
“No!” I replied, a little too forcefully. “I need you to give me a strict deadline, and please check in with me to make sure I’m on track.” I knew I needed to refuse “permission” to keep putting off key tasks. It’s just one strategy I still use to stay on track. I’ll explain below my method for finding the best strategies for my clients, who range in age from 7 to 77.
Another thing I believe: people thrive when they’re helping other people.
I learned plenty about my ADHD through trial and error. Fortunately, doctors, therapists and coaches have a better understanding today of the complexity of ADHD. And we’re able to share our collective knowledge of the field — and our own life lessons, of course — in order to help you succeed.
My understanding of my own key strengths came to me pretty late in life. With the help of a few dedicated mentors, I realized that my strongest self emerges when I’m channeling my creative energies into coaching. So I started using this strength to help other people with ADHD strengthen their beliefs in their own creative capacities. Today, I have my own business, and I am credentialed through the International Coach Federation. I’m also the Director of Training and Faculty at JST Coaching & Training, a leading organization in the training of personal and professional ADHD coaches. (You can find my resume here Resume.)
How I Empower You to Follow Through
Over the course of our first month together, I really get to know you. I get to know your story, the story you tell yourself about your ADHD, and how it affects your relationships with your family. When the people you love can’t count on you to do what you need to do, they trust you less and less. As that gap between who you are and who you want to be gets bigger and bigger, your sense of self gets smaller and smaller.
I also get to know what motivates you, and what gets you excited. I help you recognize and build upon the strengths you already possess. When a plan contains strategies and skills tailored to your unique and beautiful self, then you’re much more likely to start effectively, follow through, and deliver. To me, this is the key to coaching.
You can find the things we’re going to talk to you about — impulse control, procrastination, time management — in brilliantly reviewed books at Amazon for $17.95. A coach, though, can activate the part of your brain that allows you to stick to your plan. In getting to know you, I get to know what sticks with you (and what doesn’t). And in order for you to start living a different story, a story with stronger relationships, better time management, and self-satisfaction, let’s be clear:
If you want to stick the landing, you’ve got to stick with the plan.
With me as your coach, that’s what we’ll do. We will design your plan together, and I’ll tap into the adhesive part of your best self to boost your ability to follow through. Those small successes reinforce your faith in the game plan, and more success follows.
That’s how you move through the phases of dream, believe, achieve.
What are you ready to do differently?
Are you ready to begin?