Joe was stuck. He was overwhelmed. He was worried about keeping his job. And he was tired. He worked hard all day, barely taking time for lunch at his desk, and got to the end of the day with only a fraction of his work completed. He thought he had a handle on his ADHD with the structures he tried to put into place, but he felt like he was fighting a losing battle. The creative solutions that he devised only worked for a little while and then he was back to the consistent inconsistency that frustrated him so much. The backlog of work increased as his confidence plummeted.
Someone suggested working with an ADHD coach to help him with the difficulties he had with time management, procrastination of boring tasks, general organization, and staying focused, but he would always say, “But I don’t have time for ADHD Coaching!”
It’s not uncommon that someone might feel they would like the assistance from an ADHD coach, but can’t imagine being able to find the time for it. They are always running to catch up, working really hard, doing their best, and trying not to give up. It seems that although coaching might help, there’s just no time.
However, ADHD coaching is often most useful precisely when you feel you can’t possibly add one more thing to the day’s TO DO list. Why? Coaching can help you prioritize the things you want to do and figure out when, where and how you want to accomplish your goals. It can help you determine the next steps to take so you can move forward. Coaching allows you to identify your intentions or how you might want to handle a specific situation. It helps you to figure out the specific-to-you strategies that utilize your strengths to bypass those things that typically trip you up. Coaching, in other words, allows you to be more efficient, more effective and less overwhelmed because what had seemed insurmountable now feels doable. And who doesn’t have time for that?
Those who participate in coaching say the time spent in the coaching session saves them valuable time because they are not frozen with indecision, or reinventing the proverbial wheel, or keeping busy while not accomplishing what they need to. They say coaching allows them to see possibility – not only the barriers. They say coaching allows them to be more efficient and more effective. Instead of feeling overwhelmed or frozen, those who engage in ADHD coaching leave the coaching session with a plan for effectiveness and the coach’s support to realize that plan, moving forward toward a balance of efficient work and well-deserved play.
Coaching is a gift you give yourself to help you flourish with ADHD. We are here to help.
Roxanne Fouché specializes in strengths-based coaching of bright students and adults with ADHD, weaknesses in executive functioning, and/or learning differences. She also provides consulting for students, families, and schools/universities. She has graduate training in special education and holds both a professional Certificate in Educational Therapy and a Certificate in Positive Psychology. She serves as the San Diego Coordinator of CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder). As a founding member of the San Diego-based coaching and consulting company, Focus For Effectiveness, LLC, Roxanne provides ADHD coaching in person, over the phone or via Skype. Contact Roxanne at 858-484-4749 or to find out more.
“I don’t want to be perfect, I just want to be really good at something”.
D.T., 13 year old teenage male
We are conditioned to lean toward perfection. There’s the old adage “if you are going to do it, then do it right”. It’s not that big a leap to go from “do it right” to do it perfectly. We are expected to achieve and improve. We are told to get better grades all through school, by our teachers and our parents. We are compared either favourably or unfavourably to those around us and determinations are made as to our success or failure. This improvement must be brought about even if the so stated improvement has no personal meaning or payback for us.
Many of us are encumbered by the ideology of perfection. If you have experience with the pursuit of perfection, you may already know that striving for perfection may result in unhappiness, confusion, burnout and possibly a diminished sense of self-esteem. For those of us that routinely chase perfection, it is almost always a disappointing goal. What is perfection, anyway?
According to Dictionary.com, the definition of perfection is: “conforming absolutely to the description or definition of an ideal type”, and “excellent or complete beyond practical or theoretical improvement”. Broadly speaking, perfection is defined as a state of completeness and flawlessness.
Checking in with some folks, here is what I heard:
“Perfection is something that is unable to be improved upon”.
“Someone who never fails, does everything easily and perfectly, the first time”.
“I know I struggle with perfectionism…”
“I also realize the human race is quite un-perfect.”
“It physically makes me very unsettled, being a perfectionist… “
Four out of five of the comments mentioned above came from people who have ADHD, which I understand. We try harder.
Perfection is definitely getting in the way of reaching my goals. As a person with ADHD, there have been many who are critical of my ways of doing things. All manner of things. The desire to be perfect often results in my doing nothing. Even when I want more than anything to do something.
For example, I really wanted to write this article about perfection. I mean genuinely wanted to express my thoughts on the issue. The internal conversation that has gone on while writing it is oppressive and exhausting. As every word hits the page, it is scrutinized to be sure it’s the “perfect” word for the statement.
I am literally forcing myself to write this and not be concerned with what I think of what I write. Forcing myself to focus on what perfection has meant to me. In the name of the pursuit of perfection, I have done a great deal of procrastinating. Worrying over whether anything I do is good enough and then spending hours massaging the damn thing, editing it, and so it goes, just to be “the best it can be”, I hope. Moreover, there is a constant internal dialogue of “who cares anyhow?” Repeat that about four thousand times. That is my conversation internally as I write. Crazy town, right? How exactly, did I get here?
More importantly, how can I lose the need to be perfect and get on with living a life worth living? Sure, intellectually one can say, “Be yourself”, “Who cares what others think” and all that “rah rah” good stuff! Yeah right!
Well I lucked into something that has provided a springboard for me to revise everything I ever thought about having to have “A”s in every subject. If you haven’t had the opportunity to see Carol Dweck’s; “The Power of Believing that You Can Improve”, you are missing a great presentation on the Power of Yet. Putting our intelligence up for judgement sparks all kinds of peril. Whereas if we think in terms of not failure, but put learning on a path of growth mindset, it changes and illuminates the idea of perfection. Carol Dweck asks important questions about how we are raising our children. “Are we raising kids who are obsessed with getting A’s? Are we raising kids who don’t know how to dream big dreams? Their biggest goal is getting the next A or the next test score? And are they carrying this need for constant validation with them into their future lives?” Dweck goes on to say that one thing we can do is praise our children wisely, not praise intelligence or talent. She says praising intelligence and talent has failed and we ought not to do that anymore. However, praising the process that kids engage in: their effort, their strategies, their focus, their perseverance and their improvement creates kids who are hardy and resilient, and they have a growth mindset, knowing that they are not there “yet” and they can improve.
Professor Dweck’s TED Talks presentation resonated with me, allowing me to reconsider the whole concept of perfection and A’s. The concept of “Yet” was enough that I could exchange my long held beliefs about being perfect to a belief that improvement in areas that are important to me is all I need concern myself with. And bonus: how I measure that improvement is up to me.
I invite you to view Professor Dweck’s enlightening 10 minute talk by clicking here:
Carol Dweck researches “growth mindset” — the idea that we can grow our brain’s capacity to learn and to solve problems. In this talk, she describes two ways to think about a problem that’s slightly too hard for you to solve. Are you not smart enough to solve it … or have you just not solved it yet? A great introduction to this influential field.
Rachel Dale Howard wrestles with ADHD every day. It’s Rachel’s personal mission to eradicate perfectionism one person at a time, while assisting others to be their best self. You can learn more about Rachel and the services she offers by visiting http://www.rachel-howard.com.
Did you know that taking a full break from academics in the summer can result in two to three months of learning loss? This is especially true for students with learning disabilities and ADHD. Therefore, while students certainly need and deserve a break from school in the summer, they must also try to keep up their skills so as not to fall too far behind. Here are a few suggestions on how to keep your child learning during the break.
Provide Structure: Students are used to the structure of school, which stimulates learning with minimal distractions. Unstructured time at home is not as conducive to learning. It is difficult for many families to fit academics into their carefree summer days. Even children who attend day camp generally return home to many hours of free time afterwards. Sleep-away camps usually provide a round-the-clock schedule, but these rarely take up the whole summer. The best way to provide structure during idle hours is with a schedule. I recommend scheduling time for pool and play, reading for pleasure, hands-on educational activities, and even academics with a tutor.
Reading for Pleasure: This is the best way for students to keep up their reading, writing, grammar, vocabulary, and spelling skills. Nonfiction will teach them about a topic of interest, historical fiction will teach them about a period of time, and fiction will open their eyes to other types of lifestyles and introduce them to characters that they can relate to. I emphasize that pleasure reading has to be enjoyable and therefore must be picked out by the student. It can be books, magazines, newspapers, graphic novels, etc. E-readers are great because they enable readers to quickly look up vocabulary words while reading. For children who do not read on their own, you can encourage them by taking them to the library and bookstore, and having a daily reading hour at home for all family members. You can also read the same book as your child and discuss it together in a mini book group.
Neighborhood Book Group: When my child was in fourth grade, we started a neighborhood book group for fourth grade girls, led by a creative teacher, in an effort to keep our kids reading. They had so much fun and eagerly continued the book club weekly or biweekly for four years.
Hands-on Educational Activities: These can range from gardening and cooking, to traveling to museums and historic sites. Many of us wish school could be more hands-on, so let’s make up for this deficit in the summer. This is also a great way to bond with your children.
Academics with a Tutor: I know from experience that it is very difficult for parents to get their kids to do math and grammar worksheets in the summer. It is even more difficult to get them to write. This is why a third party, a professional tutor, can come to your house a couple of times a week to work on math, reading, and writing. These are truly “use it or lose it” skills, so your money will be well invested. A tutor can steer students towards topics that pique their interest for reading and writing, and help them find interesting ways to apply math concepts. Ideally, these tutoring sessions should be engaging, stimulating, and fun.
Hopefully, you and your children are enjoying your summer and looking forward to vacations, the beach, and carefree summer days. Learning can be fun, too, so be sure to incorporate it into your summer schedule.
Cheryl Gedzelman is President of Tutoring For Success, which offers home based tutoring, test prep, and academic coaching in the Washington, DC area, www.TutoringForSuccess.com; (703)390-9220