ADHD & New Year’s Resolutions

Today is January 4, 2012, and I sent an email today to my email subscribers asking them two simple questions:

  1. What is your #1 New Years Resolution this year?
  2. Have you achieved your New Years Resolutions in the past?

I asked people to just hit ‘reply’ and send in an email to let me know the short answers to these questions. On other occasions, I have used ‘survey software’, which makes it easy to tabulate and summarize responses, but this time, I thought if people just had to hit ‘reply’ in their email, then they’d be more likely to respond.
And did you ever respond!
In the first 8 hours after the email was sent – I received 153 email responses!
I am appreciative, honored, and touched by the emails sent. I wanted to summarize some of the comments and issues which came forward.
First, I’d like to give you some background.

The Issue With New Year’s Resolutions:
Every January 1st, many people ‘resolve’ to improve things in their lives. The gyms are full, the diet clinics are doing brisk business, and people plan to change their lives.
And by Valentine’s day (or maybe even by January 7th?), the resolutions are gone, forgotten, and things are back to ‘normal’.

And when it comes to people with ADD/ADHD, it can be very hard to make and keep resolutions. The symptoms of ADD/ADHD include poor focus, distractibility, impulsivity, etc. And, many people with ADD/ADHD have executive functioning difficulties. One executive function is: goal directed persistence! If everyone in society has trouble with keeping resolutions, how easy is it going to be for people who have trouble with ‘goal directed persistence’?!

And when it comes to family members who care for their loved ones with ADD/ADHD, they often get so burned out by their daily support and advocacy that it can be hard to focus on themselves…

So, with all of the odds against us here, why did I want to talk about New Year’s Resolutions?

It is my personal belief that we need to continuously strive for improvement. We need to evaluate where we are, and continuously set goals to reach the next step.
And not everyone agrees with me… BUT on New Year’s – this is a chance when everyone is considering New Year’s Resolutions. Many people are thinking about setting goals, and they want to achieve them.
I view this as a chance to help you – if you want it.

Your Responses To My Email Questions:

154 emails in the first 8 hours!
The first 80 or so got personal responses, and then I had to just read the emails, because I was running out of time.
I did read every email, and let me say this:
I am very touched and appreciative to each and every one of you who wrote in (and if you respond after this post goes live, I will happily read your email as well!)
As I was reading your emails, I realized that when you wrote in, you were letting me in to your hopes, dreams, and sometimes wounds (from previous hopes and dreams which didn’t go well). I was touched and honored that you were kind enough to share this very personal information with me. And I don’t take it lightly.

In my email to you, I wrote the list of the top 10 New Year’s Resolutions according to About.com. They are:
1. Spend More Time with Family & Friends
2. Fit in Fitness
3. Tame the Bulge
4. Quit Smoking
5. Enjoy Life More
6. Quit Drinking
7. Get Out of Debt
8. Learn Something New
9. Help Others
10. Get Organized

But I wanted to know what your top resolutions were.
While this isn’t an official ‘tally’, here are some of the top themes which came up over and over again when you wrote in your #1 New Year’s Resolution:

  1. Have more patience (with my ADHD child, spouse, or with myself)
  2. Declutter, and get organized
  3. Lose weight/gain health
  4. Spend more time with friends/better connection with family
  5. Save more money/spend less/earn more
  6. (I resolve to) Not make any more resolutions because I always let myself down
  7. I don’t make resolutions, I work on year round improvement

When it came to the question of “have you been successful with resolutions in the past?”, the answer was a resounding “No”. Though there was a (powerful) minority who have been partially or fully successful in the past with resolutions.

There were several emails which I’d like to quote:

Regarding question 1: What is your #1 New Years Resolution this year?

John said: For the first time, to set goals for myself.

N. said: This year number one is : Take care of myself FIRST.

A humorous response: Marvin wrote: I’m a 70 year old who was diagnosed with ADHD almost 20 years ago. I have had the same resolution for several years and am one of the few people I know who has consistently been successful in keeping theirs: No new tattoos. (Of course I don’t have any old tattoos).

Regarding Question #2: Have you achieved your new years resolutions in the past?

Suzy said: (I don’t achieve my resolutions because) Like you said…..I don’t persevere. Top resolution should be to be more self disciplined…..that would take care of a lot!!

Kay wrote: No it is the same each year, the list is the same…. same goals, same ending.

Psalm says: Resolutions are rather intimidating to me. I prefer to think of goals, such as small, incremental, attainable goals.

Jennifer: I have not always achieved my resolutions but I have when I am very specific with the goal.

N. wrote: Yes, I achieve them because I type them up and paste them inside my wallet, checkbook, reading material etc and post them where I will see and be reminded of them every day plus I announce them to my inner circle for support.

Of course, as you can see – your wisdom came through in the emails. As you were sharing your comments, many of you revealed the answers to success with setting and achieving goals and New Year’s Resolutions.

And remembering the importance of the fact that we are in the area of mental health, there were some emails which were very personal, and acknowledged how hard things can be for people. Here is one example:

As J. wrote: My New Years resolution is to learn to live with ADD and all it brings, to fight the bully at work who constantly yells at me and to not commit suicide because of my poor self-image. Have I achieved my past new year’s goals? No, of course not.

Of course, I personally emailed J., and encouraged a visit to the doctor and/or therapist to work on J’s issues and challenges. (Our thoughts and prayers are with you, J!)

After reading 154 emails with people’s hopes, dreams, wounds and fears, I reiterate that I was personally touched and honored that you shared all that you did.

In the next few days, I’ll be sharing some thoughts and ideas for your on how to do well with your New Year’s Resolutions this year. Your emails have motivated me a lot to make sure to give you some helpful tips and strategies.

I’ll wrap up with this:

Jamie wrote: “Thanks…just curious…what were yours?”

When it comes to resolutions, I do take the time to review the past year, take stock, and look forward to the new year, and I do set goals. I set specific, measurable goals, with deadlines on them (3 month, 6 month, 9 month, 12 month) – and my goals are written down.

My three main goals (or goal categories) this year are:

  1. Family: Support my family more and increase my connection with them
  2. Health: Improve my health and well-being
  3. Finances: Improve my business and financial well-being

Thanks again, and watch for more updates in the coming days.

Best,

Dr. Kenny

p.s. please share your thoughts and comments below in the comments section…


Technorati Tags: , , ,

Comments

  1. The only way that has worked for me is to focus on one specific goal at a time. Resolutions like “Spend more time with my family” just don’t work for me. Deciding with my wife that we will go to the gym together one evening a week and once each weekend is a resolution I have some hope of achieving, because it is limited, specific and allows for mutual support.

    When going to the gym has become a habit rather than a resolution, I’ll decide on the next top priority.

  2. New Year resolutions….and philosophy…philosophically I would love to see myself choose one, detail it so that I can actually follow the steps and follow through. Over the past year I have learned that if I do that I will likely succeed. Paring it down to one is most achievable.
    Here it is: follow the “SOS Cuisine” online food plan for me, which is ready made step by step [heart healthy], right down to grocery list being done for me, stores being suggested, where I can buy what is on the list, where the specials are and how to save $ with them, what to do when I bring groceries home [freezer, frig, cook, etc], and recipes to cook and eat daily, all sent to me every week online…an ADHD person’s dream……..
    I have the opportunity to have an exercise plan built for me in the building where I live, and use of the workout room….this is a hope but not a resolution.

  3. Kenny,
    Thanks for all you do. I love your emails, videos, etc.. they have been very helpful and insightful. I would recommend them to anyone affected by this disease. Hope you have a great, successful 2012!

  4. I wanted to retrieve & review my New Year Resolution from the Forum (with editing) : Getting ORGANIZED. Getting organized in my”space” [home/office area reduced in size, but still cluttered] Getting organized with “financial records” by staying up-to-date in finance record book[6 column] a page for @ month & list expenses/payments also Receipt Book & tape receipts that have significance & are saved ie, large purchaces, restuarants, cash, rebates pending, etc. (this is good for an annual review system & cash receipts). Getting Organized in my ADHD Brain. This is definitely in flux, but new medications & Professional support will help keep me moving upward [instead of my head being under-water?]. Organizing Projects books like 3-sect binders for small to med size and individual 3-hole notebooks for large projects and place for supporting documentation, written out tasks/mind maps as needed for Organized Projects. Last for now is being Organized in Time [using FranklinCovey {paper} organizer for several years with inc efficiency now 81/2 by 11" size, but may initiate combined with electronic syst in "Smart Phone" & Computer?] My committment is to fully utilize [and be "Organized" with] my paper system first.

    If I can continue to be “Organized” in my 1) Space 2) Finances 3) ADHD Brain {Medication & Professional/Coaching Support} 4) Projects/Tasks {Binders & Notebook} and 5) Time {Organizer}..all under the umbrella of Being Organized for 2012 , I will have the tools in place for a successful New Year.

  5. I posted this to my blog on December 31, 2011.

    I usually try to start the new year with a couple of resolutions. This year I have decided to go with just one. Each day his year I will endeavour to have one exchange with my son, K, as though that exchange was going to be our last. I will endeavour to leave him with a memory of me that I would want him to have for the rest of his life.

Leave a Reply