Trouble Keeping New Year’s Resolutions When You Have Attention Deficit Disorder? This Advice Might Help.

January 14, 2020

It's no surprise. For just about everyone, making a New Year's resolution is undoubtedly more convenient than keeping it – and when you struggle with Attention Deficit Disorder, the battle to make a life change is even more challenging. 

With the new year in full swing, you may be concerned with maintaining your willpower, so we brought together a few simple tips you can use to stay on track.

Evaluate and adjust your goal

It is not uncommon for people to set high expectations for their new self in the new year, and one of the biggest mistakes people make is making resolutions that are too ambitious or unrealistic. This can be especially true if you struggle with attention, which can make it more challenging to stay on track as time goes on and/or the goal gets difficult or tedious.

Examine your goal and find a way you can break it down into a smaller goal first – ideally a goal you can build into a routine and form into a habit. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, instead of promising yourself you will hit the gym every day for an hour, begin by picking a couple of days a week and go for 30 minutes, so it is easier to make it a routine. As you establish your routine, you can add a day or stay for an extra 10 minutes. In any event, your goals should be specific, measurable, and set within a timeframe.

It also helps to change the focus of your goal. While losing weight is the end-game in the example above, your first focus could instead be living healthier. This gives you more latitude for success, which can help you feel successful, which leads to a higher chance you will continue. As you continue, you actually will start experiencing the benefits of your effort and further feel even more successful. 

Make sure you build your goals into your daily routine.

Creating change in ourselves is rarely instantaneous. It almost always requires some form of discipline, which is often much more convenient if it becomes a habit – and this can be especially helpful if you have Attention Deficit Disorder.

So how do you create the habit? Routine. 

Regardless of your resolution, there is likely some part of it you will need to build into your daily routine – either to break an existing habit, form a new one, or to achieve a specific goal. For example, if your goal is to travel more this year, you will want to make that goal part of your routine, such as putting aside a few dollars every day or once a week to save for it.

The most important part of setting up a routine is to understand it will take time. Resolutions can often fail because existing rituals already use the time we have (whether we think about it or not), and we forget to make time for our new ambitions. For most of us, that usually means we need to drop or shorten another routine task to make time or append our new activity to an existing activity. Find something you do and replace it with your resolution or add it to a current routine.

Find a partner or community.

Our resolutions are generally personal, so we do not always think about including others in our journey. However, involving another person in your mission can be extremely powerful for keeping you motivated, focused, and accountable. This becomes more important as time goes on, and the newness of your resolution fades and takes your willpower with it.

While our first thought is to reach out to a friend or spouse, your chances for success will improve if you find someone on the same journey as you. Ideally, this is a community of peers or a specialist – an online community, local club, class at a university, a personal trainer, or any individual, group, or organization with a shared interest in your desired goal. 

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