Breakthrough Solutions

for Attention Deficit Disorder Adults

Bonnie Mincu

Senior Certified ADHD Coach

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ADHD need to commit before confidence

With ADD, waiting for confidence is the best way to stay stuck.

People with Adult ADD / ADHD tend to be quite impatient about many things.  So isn't it ironic that so many of us are held back most by our habit of …  waiting?

We wait for motivation, for more time, or until we get around to it.  We wait for a sign from the universe.

We wait until we feel “ready.”

The fact is, we're just waiting until we feel COMFORTABLE.  And, if the action involves doing something new or risky, that means we're waiting for CONFIDENCE.

The wait for confidence is particularly paralyzing for those with ADD and perfectionism.

When you're a perfectionist, you're uncomfortable putting anything out into the world unless it's flawless, 100% correct. So by waiting for confidence, you're most likely to hold back and stay stuck.

I see this in my ADHD Coaching clients all the time. It shows up as avoidance and procrastination, but it's really more to do with anxiety over something not being perfect. Think about that the next time:

  • you have some questions about a project and put off starting
  • you've finished your project but are reluctant to hit the SEND button
  • you're not sure what to say so you avoid communicating.

Do you envy those self-confident people who can dive right into action?

You imagine that — if only you were that confident — you would be able to take that step as well.  Actually, most people who succeed use the opposite approach.

Successful people start with the ACTION, whether or not they are confident.

People who take action are not necessarily confident the first time.   They're simply willing to DO it, knowing that they might not do it perfectly.  They know that any action that moves them forward is better than not doing anything at all.

They're willing to ask the “wrong” question, put up an imperfect website, turn in an incomplete report.  And they take any feedback as an opportunity to get better.

It is only after you COMMIT to taking action, and begin doing it imperfectly, that you can improve. By taking risks, making mistakes and learning from them, you begin to gain competence and mastery over what you're doing. As you move forward, little by little, you will naturally become more comfortable.

That feeling of CONFIDENCE actually comes last.

So what do you do?   DO IT SCARED.

Anything you've ever succeeded at means that at some point, you took a scary first step and tried something for the first time.  It probably felt risky, not knowing exactly how it would work out.  Perhaps you were forced into it.

Forced out of my comfort zone:
In the first week of my marketing job, I had to present to a roomful of cynical sales managers.  It was agony.  My voice shook the whole time.

I was so awful that the company signed me up for intensive Dale Carnegie training in public speaking.  That was a blessing; I had to give a talk two evenings a week and get critiqued.  I couldn't help but improve quickly and became more confident each time.  Over the course of my coaching and consulting career, I went on to give leadership training, live radio interviews, presentations, workshops, and feel completely comfortable onstage.

I invite you to stop waiting and make the darn commitment, knowing you will NOT be perfect. When you're willing to embrace mistakes as part of your learning and growth, you can move to a higher level.

That feeling of confidence you'll get after taking action, time after time, is a whole lot better than feeling “comfortable” and stuck!

What are you holding back on doing, because you don't feel “ready?”

Please comment and share!

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.


    Nick Rodites

    Bonnie – I think I’ve been WAITING my whole life for someone to tell me what you just told me! Thanks 🙂 In fact, what you’ve described is exactly what I’m experiencing with updating my LinkedIn profile. You’ve reminded me of how I seem to be able to get myself to take imperfect action when I’m reminded that even the best products are released in versions. Version 1 doesn’t need to be perfect, because you can always release version 2 at a future date, and so on. Thanks again, Nick

    Nick, thank YOU for reminding me about the versions. I’m in the graphic design stages of a massive website redesign, and have to keep in mind that each page does not have to be perfect. I can always go back in and tweak later. (That’s a big weakness for me: persistent tweaking!)

    This really hit me. Thank you so much for posting this article. I never have been able to explain why I do certain things the way I do them. . . and why sometimes I must wait for the “perfect” time to do something. That “perfect” time seems to never arrive, so I usually complete work tasks during a last-minute scramble to meet a deadline. I’m never happy with the results when I rush, but it is like I have to coach myself to get up the nerve to do certain things.

    The most difficult tasks for me to begin are ones that confuse me or involve multiple steps. I’ve also noticed that reports that involve numbers that are guessed or not possible to know the exact number, oh those are the worst for procrastinating on! I appreciate this article, it makes it make sense to me and maybe I will be able to improve with this knowledge.

    Jules, regarding getting stuck on tasks that are CONFUSING: Check out my blog post “ADHD, Ambiguity and Anxiety”. The key when you find yourself thinking “How do I do this?” or “What do I do?” is to turn it into a HOW QUESTION: “How do I find the answers I need?” That lets you identify an ACTION step to take next to get the answers.

    Your example about the numbers is similar to questions a current ADHD Coaching client of mine faces in her job everyday: creating recommendations based on imperfect data. (She’s a bit of a perfectionist, so the ambiguity is frustrating!) The questions she needs to start with each time are HOW do I decide which information to base assumptions on, and HOW can I do some sort of validity check on my assumptions. She then needs to determine how she’ll state her assumptions in her report, so it’s clear to the reader that the numbers aren’t going to be 100% accurate.

    rl reid

    I get it. Even non-ADD folks run into this too. It’s OK to be embarrassed (not ashamed) of less than perfect. For example anyone learning EFL/ESL must be willing to risk looking dumb to learn, if you aren’t making mistakes in that context you will not learn. Similarly coming out as trans. I could not do so without being willing to do it imperfectly – because there simply is no way to do it elegantly. Do it, make the start and grow into it.

    Now here’s the tricky part: FINDING the commitment you need and actualizing it. But what you’ve pointed out is to not let lack of confidence be the block. Something to keep reminding myself. Thanks.

    RL, those examples are spot-on. No one could learn a second language without being willing to make mistakes. And coming out as transgender is probably the biggest commitment any human being can make. There’s no “How-To” book on that. Confidence there will probably not be about doing it “right” as much as trusting that it was the right choice, and knowing that you’ll learn as you go.

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts here!

    Tova Abel

    Thanks so much for your insight on this topic Ms.Mincu. I struggle with starting and finishing projects because they have to be perfect. As a teacher getting my classroom ready is a huge task. The expectations I place on myself are not necessary. This summer my husband has been helping me stay on task and get projects completed in a timely fashion. Now with a diagnosis, meds, and learning new techniques to deal with life, I think I’ll have a successful school year. Thanks again!

    Tova, excellent insight just in time for the school year. And it sounds like you have a great resource in your husband. (When he’s not around, you can set a timer to stay on task.) Good luck!

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Bonnie, there are no words to express how deeply I’ve been affected by your blog! I’ve only read a few things, but they have created such a complete mind shift that the tears shed have washed away my struggles forever!

For the first time in my life I feel understood and hopeful that I can put some tools and systems in place to help me overcome!”

—Michelle near Seattle

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Find out what's REALLY stopping you with free "Procrastination Tree" Tool for Adult ADD / ADHD.