People with ADHD love living life freely. Plans, routines, and structure feel too conforming. In our minds, we thrive off a free-wheeling lifestyle. It’s like taking a road trip each day without a map or destination in mind. When this is your day-to-day, you might enjoy the scenery and get to a few great places, but you also experience a lot of bumps in the road, deadends, and detours that waste a lot of your time. What if there’s a different way to plot your course? How would your life change if you learned how to create a roadmap to success?
Roadmap to Success
When you start your day out with a plan or destination in mind, you know the steps you need to take to get there. You have your map ready to go and the roads you will take are clearly marked. The benefits of starting your day this way are that you know what to expect, you’ve estimated the time it will take to get there and you even added some enjoyable pitstops along the way. When you do come to an interesting detour, you can decide if it is worth your time or if you should come back to it another time. You still have choice and flexibility but you also have structure and predictability.
Roadmaps of The Brain
Now, if you’ve never planned a road trip it probably sounds overwhelming. I know what you’re thinking. Too many decisions? Too many what-ifs! I might miss out on so many things if I stick to a plan! This is our brain’s way of sabotaging any possibility of change.
Similar to a roadmap, our brain has created a lot of negative neuropathways based on information and beliefs from our past. It’s easier for us to use these well-known but less effective roads. For example, you are driving down the road and see a new job opportunity. It looks like a great place to work, but instead of changing direction and trying a new route you say to yourself, “I’m not going to head that way because it’s too complicated, I’m too old, I don’t have enough experience or any number of other limiting beliefs that your brain comes up with.” You have no evidence that this is the case, but you talk yourself out of it because of the old baggage you keep carrying around. Not to mention, the road less traveled is a scary one and you prefer to know what to expect.
New Roads Ahead
The good news is that creating new roads in our brains is possible. This is called neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is when our brain creates different pathways when we do something new. If we keep using this new road, it will become stronger and part of our roadmap. Repeated and directed attention to using this road will lead you in new directions in life.
Plot Your Course
Planning out your day is similar to planning your route and key destinations on a road trip. When you make your plans in advance you will know where you are going and what to expect. As you begin planning your day, think about the important things you would like to get done and when you will do them.
Planning too much is overwhelming. Each day set small, attainable goals. Stick to 3-5 things that you plan to do each day. Make sure to break down each activity into smaller steps so you know exactly what path to take to complete each task.
Fill up your tank
Staying on course is hard without proper sleep, nutrition and exercise. These are essential to keeping your brain on track. As you develop your new roadmap, make sure to make pitstops throughout your day to refuel.
Learn What Detours To Take
We are constantly being steered off course by interruptions from the people in our life, notifications and alerts vying for our attention and the constant flooding of thoughts and worries that swirl around in our heads. The ADHD brain has a difficult time knowing what things to prioritize. When interruptions arise, it is important for us to learn what detours to take. Having clear boundaries for what we give our attention to at a given time is essential to getting us to our destination.
Expect Some Bumps and Dips in the Road
Taking the road less traveled is hard and oftentimes uncomfortable. But when we ride through the discomfort, that’s when real change happens. You will come to some dips in the road as well. You’ve been on an awesome ride and suddenly it gets hard and you don’t think you can go any further. You have to push through the dip or you will just circle back to where you began.