Fortunately, there are several strategies you can use to help you stick to and reach your goals for the new year when you have ADHD. You can set the same types of resolutions for yourself as anyone else does, but you may need to go about achieving them in a different way. Learn more about the best tips for following through with your New Year’s goals.
Acknowledge Your Limitations—and Your Strengths
As someone with ADHD, there are a few challenges that stand in your way with setting and achieving goals. Most people with this disorder struggle with the executive functioning skills required to meet goals, like time management, planning, attention, self-control, memory, and organization.
However, your ADHD isn’t just about what’s holding you back. It can also provide you with some strengths that can help you bring your resolutions to fruition. Acknowledging what you excel at is just as important as recognizing what challenges you’re likely to face because of your ADHD.
Just because you may struggle with things like organization, focus, and self-discipline, it doesn’t mean you’re any less committed to your goals. You simply excel in different areas, like being creative, energetic, and adventurous. Think through ways to work around your limitations and play up your strengths to increase your changes of success in sticking to your resolutions.
Start with Smaller Goals
People with ADHD often struggle with setting long-term goals. Seeing the big picture might not be your forte, but you may be able to hyperfocus on minor tasks and perform much better with short-term goals.
With that in mind, set several smaller goals rather than one big one. Instead of simply resolving to get a new job this year, break down that goal into steps to help direct your focus on one thing at a time—update your resume, search for jobs, send out applications, etc.
Being able to check smaller goals off your list is a great way to tap into what makes your ADHD brain tick. Many people with this disorder have trouble delaying gratification. By setting your sights on smaller, more attainable goals, you can connect with your desire for a more immediate reward for your actions.
Automate Your Actions
Another challenge you may face as someone with ADHD is difficulty planning. That can serve as an obstacle when you’re trying to adopt a new habit into your routine. However, there are plenty of creative ways to work around this challenge by automating some of the steps involved.
The following are some examples of ways of how you can put this tip into practice with your New Year’s resolutions:
- Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to exercise, work on a new hobby, or read a chapter of a book.
- If your goal is to save more money, you can schedule automatic transfers from your checking account to a savings account or retirement fund.
- Disable your WiFi or temporarily block apps or websites if you find that you need to remove these distractions to get things done.
- Use a timer to keep yourself focused on a single task for a set amount of time.
Take advantage of automation tools like these to help you stay on task. Small adjustments to accommodate your ADHD limitations can turn out to be highly effective in moving you closer to your goals.
Don’t Expect Perfection
Most people experience some difficulties when trying to achieve their New Year’s resolutions. And while having ADHD may be part of the reason you have a few missteps along the way, it’s important to remember that no one is able to reach their goals without at least a few setbacks or disappointments.
Don’t beat yourself up when you don’t reach a goal you had set out to achieve. Practicing self-compassion allows you to go easy on yourself rather than getting frustrated with your lack of discipline. Research actually shows that having self-compassion is more effective at helping you stay motivated compared to being excessively hard on yourself.
Try to treat yourself with care and empathy, like you would a family member or friend. Make an effort to be encouraging rather than critical of yourself. If you make a mistake, forget to do something, or miss a deadline you’ve set, be kind to yourself. Learning to work through setbacks like these increases your resilience so you can keep striving for your goals instead of giving up completely when things get tough.
Once you’ve decided on your New Year’s resolutions, talk to a friend or family member about your goals and see if they’d be willing to act as a partner as you strive to achieve them. This partner can help to motivate you and hold you accountable along the way.
For example, you might ask a friend to attend a fitness class with you once a week. Because you know someone else is counting on you to attend, you’ll be more likely to stick to your commitment. If you struggle with forgetfulness due to your ADHD, that friend could help by sending you reminders the day before each class.
Your partner doesn’t need to participate in the same resolutions as you do, either. Maybe you are committed to learning how to knit, but you have trouble concentrating on it when your house is busy and loud. Perhaps your spouse could take the kids to the park for an hour or two each weekend to give you some quiet time to work on your hobby without distractions.
Utilize these tips and tricks as you plan your resolutions. While your ADHD may present a few extra challenges, you are still completely capable of achieving what you set out to do. With the right strategies and a solid ADHD treatment plan in place, you’ll be set up for greater success as you enter the new year inspired with specific personal goals in mind.