As an ADHD Coach, I am frequently asked about a natural treatment for ADHD. The most natural treatment options are strategies that allow you to eliminate obstacles and better control your life.
Better decision making can occur when you better understand what gets in your way and how to push through the challenges.
Trying to make effective and timely decisions with AD/HD can present a major hurdle in successfully managing day to day situations. Sometimes a simple yes or no question can become so complicated and fraught with anxiety that the opportunity to decide (and take control over the issue) is lost.
What are the four landmines that can influence your ability to control your decision-making process, and how do you manage them?
Perfectionism. Based on a belief system that it is unacceptable to make a mistake, perfectionists are ruled by lots of “shoulds” and “what if” thinking. It is the all or nothing choice for many with AD/HD. The ultimate in self-defeating behavior, perfectionism is based on unrealistic standards by which these individuals measure their ability to make the “right” choice.
If perfectionism gets in your way, what can you do to minimize the impact?
- Set realistic goals: what is doable right now? If you are trying to decide how many books to take on vacation, how many can you reasonably read in 7 days?
- Eliminate the “shoulds”: this is the voice of others; what do you enjoy reading?
- Minimize the “what ifs”: what if you bring the “wrong” books? What’s the worst that can happen? You go to the store and buy something else.
Procrastination. While this can also be linked to perfectionism, we’ll talk about it in relation to time management. “Why make the decision now, when I can do it later?” The concept of time passing can be so intangible to someone with AD/HD that the idea of forever takes precedent. It’s not until you run up against a deadline that you are able to act. Frequently that results in chaos, tension and a feeling of failure.
How can you begin to get hold of procrastination?
- Practice taking action at the time. Any time you find yourself saying, “I’ll think about it later,” stop and think about it right then and there. Even if you don’t make a final decision, move on to step 2.
- Create a daily list of decisions you need to make before the end of the day. Cross them off as you complete them. Check the list at the end of the day and finalize any open decisions.
Too Many Choices. People with AD/HD often find themselves facing what seems to be a sea of endless choices, leading to the internal struggle of how can they possibly narrow down the field. In actuality, they really don’t have that many options, it just seems that they do because again, the phrase “what if” is used too frequently, without boundaries.
If you are overwhelmed by all the choices that you think you have, consider your options.
- If you could select only 3 choices today, what would they be and why?
- What would you lose if you limited yourself to those 3; what would you lose if you postponed making the decision?
- On a scale of 1-10, rank your 3 choices and pick one that has the best score (10 being best)
Distraction. Finally, don’t underestimate one of the basic forms AD/HD takes in pulling your attention away from the decision at hand. You may find that distractibility causes you to forget that you have a decision to make, or when you need to make it.
- Use your agenda or organizer to post the decision opportunity as soon as you know about it.
- Monitor the list daily and check off the decisions as you make them.
- If you need to take some action as a result of your decision, make a note to do it by a certain time (agenda/organizer).
Getting comfortable with the idea that you can make decisions that you can live with takes time and practice. Just like any change, it won’t happen overnight. In time, however, you’ll be able to add effective decision-making to your list of strengths.