Rethinking the New Year’s Resolution

Every year, many of us go through the ritual of making New Year’s resolutions. These might include exercising more, losing weight or increasing our income.¬† It feels like the appropriate time to review the past year’s successes and disappointments, and make a fresh start, with a new set of goals. That is often easier said than done for most people, especially if you have ADHD.

The Problem with  Resolutions

Some of the pitfalls of making resolutions when you have ADHD can include:

  • Setting too many goals to work on
  • Setting unrealistic or overambitious goals
  • Failing to connect new goals to goals from previous years
  • Not focusing on the most important goals

As the year progresses, it is all too easy to get overwhelmed by your resolutions, fail to follow through on them, become discouraged and then wind up feeling like a failure.

So what do you do if this sounds like your experience with New Year’s resolutions?

Try Using a Theme Instead of Resolutions

The folks at CHADD suggest using themes instead of individual resolutions. A theme is just a simple idea or even a word – something that is easy to remember. It serves as a kind of guide for helping make daily decisions, evaluating choices or setting short-term mini-goals as needed. These all contribute to building and reinforcing your theme during the year.

The advantages of a theme (vs. a set of goals) are:

  • There are no tasks to fail at
  • You don’t have to keep measuring yourself
  • It’s an incremental process of improvement based on daily decisions and choices
  • You eliminate feelings of guilt and discouragement

Ask Questions that Help Move You Forward

Penny Williams, writing at Parenting ADHD and Autism, offers a free tool that can help you prepare for the coming year whether you choose to make resolutions or use a theme. It focuses you on asking questions to guide your activities. These include things like:

  • What do I really want or need in the coming year?
  • What would I like to share with others in the coming year?
  • What do I want to less of?
  • What do I want to do more of?
  • What worked for me and I should keep doing more of?

Make Sure it Works for You

In addition to the ideas above, there are a variety of software apps that can help you stay focused on improving on the things that are important to you. The key to the success of any of these approaches is understanding what works best for you.

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