Sometimes changing course quickly is the best decision
We’ve always heard that we should stick to what we start, follow through, and strive to meet our goals. With ADD / ADHD traits, we may have heard that advice more often than most.
Because, honestly, “staying the course” is usually not what we tend to do.
We’re more likely to follow our dream… for a while… until that dream changes and then we start following a different dream.
And then at some point we might look back with regret, and think about how far we would have come if only we’d stuck with something. Our need for change and the chasing of bright shiny objects can feel like something shameful, and somehow wrong.
But just because switching gears often might fit your ADD tendencies, that doesn’t always make it wrong. And sticking too long with a wrong course of action doesn’t make it right.
When taking “impulsive” action is appropriate
How can you tell whether changing makes sense, or if you’re simply following that ADHD “squirrel?” You need to make the distinction between purely impulsive change, versus exercising the ability to act impulsively.
IMPULSIVENESS implies acting without conscious thought as to whether the action makes sense in the long run. It’s usually an action made on a moment’s whim, and might be one that you would not have done if you’d thought things through. This is a trait often associated with ADD / ADHD.
ABILITY to ACT IMPULSIVELY says you are capable of acting quickly, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the action was thoughtless. It means that your brain made a rapid calculation, weighed the pros and cons of the situation, and decided that an action made sense based on that calculation.
True Story: Making a critical decision overnight
I recently heard about a profound career-changing decision that had to be made very quickly.
Some years ago, I posted about my ADHD Coaching client, Gary, an international consultant who built a unique business starting from literally nothing, with only an idea of a need in the market and a conviction that his idea was sound. In an incredibly short time, once he learned how to focus and work with his ADHD mind, he succeeded beyond his dreams, picking up major clients all over the world.
I recently saw that he had ventured into an entirely new direction, and congratulated him on his expansion.
He said that the new venture was born of necessity. With the rapid changes brought about by the U.S. election, and worldwide concerns about terrorism, his previous business model was no longer viable. His lucrative international client contracts dried up overnight. He had to change what he was doing completely, or face bankruptcy.
So Gary started a brand new business. Within three weeks, he had an impressive website up, and I trust he will quickly build a reputation as THE expert in this new field.
Was this simply ADHD impulsiveness? Should he have stayed the course, ridden out the hard times, and tried to stick with the business that he had built his reputation on, that was his pride and joy?
No. Considering the harsh realities of the market, that would not have made sense.
Gary will certainly be some bumps in the road starting from scratch all over again. There’s no one to point the way, since he is the ground-breaker in his field. But he will succeed because he has ability plus confidence and conviction. He’ll learn from mistakes because he doesn’t consider mistakes failures, but as learning opportunities for how to do better.
How to nurture your secret asset
If you’ve ever acted impulsively, you’re capable of learning to use the capacity of impulsiveness to your benefit. Your own best way to develop that skill will depend on your personal tendencies.
READY, FIRE, AIM
If your style is to leap before you look, you’ll want to practice taking time to make more rational decisions. The more you do that, the more your brain will become accustomed to thinking things through quickly.
If you are highly risk-averse, use baby steps to practice taking small risks, with the goal of shifting your mindset away from a strong fear of failure. Embrace each mistake as a new learning.