"I know what needs to get done, but I can't get myself to do it."
I hear this nearly everyday from clients and others with ADHD posting online. It's awful to feel stuck, yet many with ADHD are accustomed to it.
Here are eight reasons you may be stalled out and questions I ask my clients to help them move forward. There are plenty more, but you've got to hit 'publish' at some point.
8 Reasons You're Stuck
It's not actually important or necessary, there’s no DEADLINE or PERSON besides you waiting on it. Important things are usually attached to a deadline - that’s a big part of what makes them important.
It’s just for you — tagging onto point #1, mothers struggle to do things for themselves. We often don’t see it as valuable to everyone, so we don’t prioritize it.
It won’t solve a current problem — life is complicated, so if something takes your time but doesn't solve a problem it gets devalued.
You are over scheduled and can’t make time — don’t tell me you don’t do this - if you’re on my page, there's a 98% chance you do this. It’s part of executive function and how you understand yourself in time.
You are exhausted from a recent hard push. Did you just reconfigured your dining room to accommodate virtual working and learning, get over the line with a project at work, or take a trip that required a ton of planning, packing, cleaning, and worry? Maybe you completed something else that felt taxing or complex to you. You might be stuck, because you're tired.
Something about it is hard, but you’re not sure what. Perhaps it requires your computer to be charged, passwords to be right, or info that must be accurate. What if you start and need to stop midway through or need help from someone else? All of these things can cause roadblocks.
You can't see the path, or steps, to get going. Jeff Copper talks a lot about the challenges individuals with ADHD have with ambiguity. I like to say we can see the Emerald City, but not the Yellow Brick Road. Everyone keeps singing, "Follow the Yellow Brink Road," but we are still looking for Toto.
It's boring or tedious. Have you ever wondered if you have narcolepsy because you can't keep your eyes open in meetings? The Attention System in the brain begins in the wakeup center - the Reticular Activity System. This means sometimes we literally need to wake up to get our brain alert and the Frontal Cortex ticking.
What's got you stuck this week?
I also break these down in my IGTV “Why you don’t finish what you start” — check that out if you’re an auditory learner.
Now we know why we're stuck, but what the heck do we do about it?
I'm so glad you asked.
My mentor, Nancy Ratey, is the guru of self coaching. I ascribe to her philosophy that the goal of coaching is for the client to self-initiate change. Over time my clients are learning to ask themselves coaching questions when they're stuck.
Questions I ask clients when they're stuck:
What is hard about it?
What do you need to overcome or solve it?
What is the REAL first step? (bonus: are there steps before that? imagine you're giving instructions to someone with zero experience or understanding of the task)
What will get in your way? (bonus: what can you do to plan for those disruptions?)
What’s your go-to question to ask yourself when you’re stuck?
Want to connect with other women with ADHD who can help you next time you hit a roadblock? Join us in the ADHD Enclave where we hold space for each other everyday.