Developing Habit Awareness

I need to …

Start exercising!

Finish projects!

 

I want to …

Start meditating!

Spend more time with my kids!

 

We all know the value of good habits. Research points to the benefits of developing consistent habits, that successful individuals are more likely to practice specific habits daily.

So why are habits so challenging when it comes to ADHD?

There are many reasons but suffice it to say ADHD provides the perfect proverbial wrench when it comes to developing positive habits.

Start with the nature of both:

  • Habits provide small incremental payoffs over an extremely long timeline especially during the early habit-developing period.
  • The ADHD experience is often manifested by searching (focus) for the highest payoff (stimulation) in the immediate moment (gratification).

The immediate “chemistry want” of the ADHD brain seeking ample dopamine is a powerful disruptor to the nuanced and subtle process that characterizes habit development.  Given this, it is also possible to develop habits as an individual with ADHD. Over the next few weeks I’ll share a few habits that some of my Global Creative clients have developed and reinforced over the years.

Where to Begin.

ADHD has us often focus on what is missing. This is the ‘unaware’ phenomenon of living with ADHD; being the last to ‘get the memo’. We find ourselves focusing on the habits that we need or want and are frustrated and flummoxed by habits not taking hold.

Start with focusing on the habits already in play especially the habits that tend to disrupt the habits you want to develop.

Want to engage in a morning routine of mindfulness, exercise and a good breakfast?

Excellent choice! Notice the habits that consistently throw up roadblocks to this practice.

Are you challenged by getting a good night sleep?

Do you have a habit of relishing the quiet hours of the late evening after everyone has gone asleep?

Do you have the habit of watching more than one Netflix show at a time?

We watch a show that baits us with a cliff hanger at the end, enticing us to keep watching. You can see how this habit can negatively impact the habit of a consistent bedtime that will in turn boost the chances of hitting the snooze button – another not-so-useful habit. We can quickly see how all of these habits can have a negative impact on developing a successful AM routine practice.

When you start to pay attention to the not so helpful habits, they start to add up. There is value in building an archive of accurate information so long as you don’t bring swift judgment or criticism to the new awareness. Remember, awareness is the starting place.

As a part of ADHD Awareness Month I will be sharing my thoughts on developing habits with Tara McGillicudy and her ADHD Expo audience. More here.