Why is Decision-Making Hard with ADD/ADHD?
Effective and timely decision-making is still a dream for some and a curse for others with ADD/ADHD.
Dread making decisions?
Second guess your decisions and let them gnaw at you?
Make decisions on the spot and then regret them later?
Put off making decisions until the decision is made by default?
Effective decision-making with adult ADD/ADHD poses a huge challenge for many.
Hesitancy to act is based on fear, while pulling the trigger too soon is based on impulsivity.
You could be dealing with both, depending on the situation.
Fear is based on the projection of failure. With ADD/ADHD, you’ve probably had your behaviors and thoughts challenged repeatedly as a youngster and you’re programmed now to believe it. Everyone can do it better than you.
Procrastination sets in because if you wait, the perfect answer/decision with magically appear.
Putting off making the decision eventually takes it out of your hands. An external force (time?) has taken over and you’re helpless to do anything to change it.
Conversely, making a snap decision can lead to regrets, remorse and shame.
However, the impulsivity driving the decision generates a tremendous feeling of stimulation and aliveness in the moment. Two feelings that people with ADD/ADHD are constantly seeking.
How can you recognize the situation and take steps to make effective and timely decisions
- List the possible options.
- Score them from least to most important: 0-5 (low to most important)
- Use these filters to score them:
- What will happen if I wait?
- Is that the worst thing?
- If you choose this option, what will you gain?
- If you choose this option, what might you lose?
- Add up the scores. Do one or two options bubble to the top?
- Eliminate the low scoring options and reassess the top three (3) using the scoring process until you reach your decision.
- Try to avoid situations that provoke serial impulsive decisions. Don’t sit in the parking lot of McDonald’s pretending that you’re making a decision if avoiding fast food is your priority. Don’t cruise your favorite online shopping links for “just window shopping” if you want to stop spending.
- If/when you find yourself in a “in-the-moment” decision situation, ask yourself:
- If I don’t ____, will I ever have this opportunity again?
- Can I live without _____?
- If I wait until tomorrow, will I still want _____?
- Allow yourself to feel the rush of stimulation that made be coursing through you: “This is fantastic!” I can see so many uses for it!” “I’ve never seen anything so perfect for ___!” “I just know I’ll use this again and again!”
In either case, you’ll need plenty of practice to get comfortable with the feelings that come with decision-making. Trying these strategies once is not enough.
But over time, your decision-making muscles will strengthen and become your ally.