With ADHD, sometimes we need to lower the bar.
“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?” Robert Browning
This is one of the guiding principles of American life, but like another, “You can be anything you want to be,” it’s false and harmful.
We may believe that setting high goals will challenge us and drive us forward. Maybe that works, sometimes. We do need to set goals. But repeated failures are demoralizing. We need successes. The solution? Lower the bar!
A strategy: Lower the bar!
(Note: All numbers are based on my memory. They may not be exact. Memory and ADHD?)
(Note: This is not about weight. Weight is only used as an example to illustrate the principle.)
(Note: Got that?)
I’ve been concerned with my weight since high school. I wanted to play football and no matter what I did the highest weight I could achieve was 168. I was too small, but I did the best I could. When football season was over, I was no longer working out and I was drinking more beer. I got to 185 by graduation. In college, I suffered the delusion that I was going to play football, and with heavy eating and heavy weightlifting, got to 208. Since college, it’s been a continual battle to keep my weight down.
For years my goal has been to get back to 168. I have set my psychic alarm clock at 179, trying desperately to avoid the dreaded 180. But now we are living in a place abounding in good food and especially good desserts. Multiple desserts. Oh my!
I have breached the 180 a few times but I generally manage to stay below that. I did get to 168 for one day.
If I work really really hard at it and strictly discipline myself, I can lose a pound in a week. That would be 52 pounds in a year. However, I can gain 5 pounds in one night, especially with Mexican food. And holidays are especially hard. Discipline is not one of the strong points with ADHD.
I need successes, not constant failures. Failure is already frequent enough with ADHD.
I plan to change my target goal from 168 to 172. I’ll set my psychic alarm at 176. I’m hoping to maintain between 172 and 176. I will no longer shoot for 168. It ain’t gonna happen.
Our need for success is one reason the strategy of “small steps” works. Instead of failing to complete a project, we complete a small step and the success gives us confidence, morale and energy to proceed to the next small step.