Your best defense is a good strong Ritual
People with ADD / ADHD often believe that many of the problems they experience come from not having developed internal structure and habits.
Actually, I’ve found that most of us DO have very strong habits. Unfortunately, many of our habits do more to mess us up than to contribute to a smooth life.
How Jamie learned to deal with her mail… and saved her credit rating
Jamie often racked up late payments on her credit card bills because she forgot (or didn’t bother) to pay them on time. It was obvious that she didn’t have a solid habit of regularly dealing with the bills. She tried several times to create the habit, but couldn’t get it to stick.
Simply trying to develop a regular habit of paying her bills wasn’t enough. Jamie had to first deal with the negative habit that she DID have.
Jamie’s habit was to toss all her mail onto a big pile on the kitchen counter without looking at it. So when it came to paying the bills, she was not always able to find them. When the pile of mail got very large, she felt too overwhelmed to even search through the pile!
When you have an ADD-type habit like Jamie’s, how do you go about making a successful habit change? You deliberately create a RITUAL to replace your bad habit.
Create a RITUAL to form a new habit
A ritual is a systematic set of behaviors that you deliberately perform in the same way on a regular basis, in order to create a positive habit. The desired behavior that you want to develop into a habit should tie to something you already do, or to a particular stimulus or trigger.
Jamie’s existing behavior was to automatically take in the mail when she entered her front door. The goal of a new ritual would be to automatically take specific actions steps with the mail — to replace the negative default habit of dumping it on the counter.
This is the new ritual we created for Jamie in her ADHD Coaching:
- Remove mail from mailbox and enter house.
- Immediately look at each piece of mail and separate them into different compartments in a box on the counter:
- Bills or urgent action required
- Items of possible interest to be opened later
- Coupons or promotions to keep
- Garbage to be immediately tossed in the trash
An important component of the ritual was the idea that this should be done as the very first thing walking in, before even hanging up her coat or sitting down. Entering the house with mail in her hand was the “trigger;” the action that triggered the subsequent steps.
The key to this ritual actually becoming a habit depended on it being repeated, and done in such a way that it would enter Jamie’s consciousness. Jamie had to decide to be willing to take the ritual action, no matter what. That meant that if she sat down and then realized that she had not sorted the mail, she had to immediately get up and do it — no matter what! She could NOT give herself permission to let it slide, or to tell herself she would do it later.
The act of getting up and doing the sorting, even when it was annoying or inconvenient, is what made this new behavior enter Jamie’s automatic repertoire and eventually become a habit.
Rituals can help you create all kinds of habits:
- Planning ritual – to go over your planner and get the most out of your workday
- Evening ritual – Make preparations at night to help you get you out quickly in the morning
- Bedtime ritual – Wind down to get yourself to bed by a particular time
- Take-out-the-garbage ritual – Set up a trigger to automatically perform chores that you never feel like doing
Creating an effective ritual is a bit of an art and a science. It may take some trial and error before it really works for you. Once it does, you will find that your rituals provide the most important breakthrough solutions in overcoming ADHD challenges.
New Webinar: “Rituals to Change Habits“
Thursday, August 15, 2013 – 9:00 PM Eastern
Join me for this new webinar training event from Thrive with ADD. Learn how to create your most effective rituals, how to avoid missteps and wrong assumptions, and to bring about the change that you desire most.
- CLICK HERE for Details and Registration at LOW August SALES PRICE!