Bonnie

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Bonnie Mincu

Senior Certified ADHD Coach

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ADHD and changing jobs

How do you know if leaving a job is the right decision… or just ADD restlessness? 

Justin, a manager in a large financial corporation, hired me as an ADHD Coach to help him salvage his job. He had done quite well over the years, gaining increasing responsibility in managing retail offices where he dealt with the public and oversaw an entire operation of various types and levels of employees.  Although he loved his work, Justin felt he had reached the top of where he could go in the retail area of the organization. Therefore, one year ago, he had allowed himself to be seduced away by a rival firm to take a higher-paying position involving complex transactions.

ADHD, restless on the job?Now, rather than using his relationship-building and people skills, Justin’s success was dependent on his ability to juggle enormous amounts of detailed paperwork and to conduct quantitative analysis. In fact, these were areas that he did not have particular strengths, and did not enjoy. His ADHD-overwhelm kicked in and he found himself increasingly paralyzed, day after day. In addition to being depressed at facing the workday, he lived in fear that his shortcomings would be discovered. The fact that his boss showed great patience and continued to have faith in him made Justin feel even worse.

The job was a wrong fit

It became clear in talking with Justin that the job was a completely wrong fit for him.  In addition to disliking the work, his self-esteem was taking a beating every day. He had hired an ADHD Coach to help him get into the flow of doing the work, but he felt trapped. As we know, with ADD / ADHD, when we dislike something we’re doing, we have a hard time focusing on it.

When Justin realized he didn’t have to blame himself or the job, a great weight was lifted off his shoulders. Realizing it was not in his best interest to try to force himself to remain long-term,  Justin was able to attend industry events and network without feeling like a failure. He heard about an opening in his previous line of work, presented himself confidently as a candidate and was hired to manage a new retail office.

Once Justin gave notice to his boss, two funny things happened.

First, Justin was suddenly able to perform well. For the first time in this job, he found himself productively conducting complex transactions and putting through sales without feeling overwhelmed.

Second, his boss, rather than being relieved at getting rid of a poor performer, expressed great dismay that Justin was leaving! He brought pressure to bear on Justin to the point where Justin began to question his decision to leave.

Was he really doing the right thing, to leave this job after only a year?

Justin was anguished. Was it just his ADD that made him need to enjoy his work?   Shouldn’t he take responsibility and stick with the job longer? Was he giving up too soon?

The boss ultimately accused Justin of “copping out,” implying that he was showing a weakness of character by not staying longer, even providing a poor role model for his children. This personal attack strengthened Justin’s resolve that he was doing the right thing to leave.

With ADD / ADHD, we do tend to change jobs more often. Although sometimes the change is forced on us, our restlessness comes from a desire to do something different, our attraction to the newness of a new place with new responsibilities. Our interests tend to be broader, less likely to be fulfilled for long in the same job. Or we may have taken a job impulsively and then discovered it wasn’t a good fit for our strengths. But if we leave every time we’re frustrated, we could end up with so many jobs that an employer would be afraid to hire us.

Have you ever struggled with the decision to leave a job or career that you hated? Did you feel that you should “stay the course?” What did you do? Was it the right decision?  Please comment below!

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Author: Bonnie Mincu
Senior Certified ADHD Coach, Founder of "Thrive with ADD," Bonnie has been coaching adults with ADD / ADHD traits since 2001. She has developed numerous training programs to help with the challenges of Adult Attention Deficit Disorder.

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Categories: Blog, On the Job, Work and Career

Comments

    Absolutely true for me! Before starting my own business (and that is another ADD emotional cliffhanger), I changed jobs frequently, typically lasting a year to two years at each. Being self-employed and doing what I love to do I am going on 8 years of staying with one job! However, I am painfully aware that if I were employed by someone else, I would be fired for the challenges the ADD has cost me professionally!

    Bonnie Mincu

    I’ve been running “Thrive with ADD” for 11 years now. The best thing about having my own business is that if I get bored running a particular program, I can stop doing it and create new materials or a new class.

    I think what keeps me from wanting to change my work is the great variety of people I coach with ADD. Although the challenges are similar, the type of person and personality varies enormously from one client to another.

    Barbara

    I have a similar experience, but a different reaction. I have been in a series of mostly unsuitable jobs. In most cases, I either fell into a job offered me when I wasn’t looking — job hunting is an overwhelming task for me — or if I was looking, I took the first thing I was offered, knowing there was probably a lot about it I wouldn’t enjoy. And I’ve stayed in those jobs 8 to 10 years, mostly because looking for something better is too daunting for me. I know the jobs I’ve had require skills and qualities that are my weakest, I just can’t figure out what kind of job uses my strengths, so I tell myself that the camaraderie or some vague relation to my real interests compensate for the unsuitability of the work.

    Bonnie Mincu

    Actually, enjoying the camaraderie of work is a fine motivation. And it’s kept you from falling into an ADD-type career history. Not bad, as long as you’re not unhappy going to work.

    I have had SO many different jobs I can’t even remember them all! As I grew older, I found my maximum length of time in one job that allowed me a lot of variety with working on different projects can last 5 years at most. Since I always work in offices or call centres, it’s really not surprising that even though I get the different projects, they are still all just “boring” projects that require organization and follow through.
    And the thought of running my own business scares the jell-o out of me! So much to do, so much responsibility for organizing and following through…makes me exhausted just thinking about it.
    But, it sounds like it would be ideal for me in a broad sense…

    Bonnie Mincu

    The qualities required to work independently are actually learnable skills and strategies. But it does require a basic desire to be independent that’s stronger than the desire for security of a steady paycheck (even if the concept of “job security” is no longer very secure!)

    SGT Rock

    For myself, job hunting is an overwhelming. I too took the first thing offered. I knew I wouldnt like it but did it anyway. I’ve stayed unemployed for almost a year because focusing on what I want to do, constructing a “strong resume”, looking a job and interviewing are extremely stressful for me. Plus I dont want to feel the sting of disappointment if I get “let go” from another temporary position. Its extremely demoralizing especially when you do everything you are supposed to and more. Some jobs I know I have the skills but I am not good at presenting myself. I also don’t know where my strengths are and how to utilize them. Then while working I ruminate on what could have been. I want to change but I dont know how to.

    Bonnie Mincu

    You sound like an excellent candidate for coaching, which could help you a great deal. A job or career coach would be able to help you in presenting yourself, leading with your strengths, and helping you change in the direction you want. An investment in a few sessions of the coaching would be more than paid back in putting you on track in a career… plus it would be tax deductible.

    Anne2

    All these years I have worked for a corporation, and some people had on occasion asked my why I work so hard to make things happen. Now with this economy I can’t find a full time job. I get interviews, but things have changed through all the years that I didn’t need to look for work.

    When I think about starting a business, I think about what would be fun to offer and I get energized. Then I find my brain thinking of creating business models, etc. and I feel my enthusiasm getting a bit squashed.

    I would like to work in the corporate world for 10 more years, but I would love to create a job that I could work for 20 years and then some. We live in a time where this is now possible. Scary and fun at the same time.

    Honestly since I have found Bonnie’s materials, I have been able to pull more courage from within and try things that I did not think I was able to have patience with.

    Who knows where my next answers for work and opportunity will come from. I think I will download the course and get just a little more courage. Like the cowardly lion in the Wizard of Oz… I just need more courage!

    Bonnie Mincu

    It is an amazing time of opportunity, that via the internet, we can actually create our own jobs and run a business, in many cases without having to maintain employees. It takes some courage, but the key is knowing what to learn and becoming aware of who to learn from. The sheer amount of information is staggering, and can be overwhelming for sure.

    Cindy Callaghan

    I can identify with Justin and with everything you have said. I am currently faced with a similar decision, but at age 56, will stay the course. Each day there are things that I love about my work as a program administrator, and things I dislike. Over the years I have come to know my strengths and weaknesses. I try to do those things which are more in the weakness category early in the day or first. The other option I use is to delegate them out to a person whose strengths they match. I hen follow up with progress meetings until the project is completed.
    This tends to work well for me!

    Bonnie Mincu

    Congratulations Cindy, it sounds like you’ve mastered the art of delegation. Also important that you know there are things you love in your job, and presumably the “loves” (or at least “likes”) outweigh the “dislikes.” One thing we ADHDers have to watch out for is a tendency to focus too much on what we don’t like, to the point where it gets exaggerated in our minds. It sounds like you’ve successfully struck the right balance.

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