A month from now, you will be powering through your New Year’s Resolutions, well on your way towards achieving feng shui in your living room, or better upper body strength, or all-around inner peace.
But for now, take a victory lap in honor of 2012 (whether or not last year’s resolutions all got checked off). Even if the last twelve months chewed you up and spit you out, there is plenty to cheer about.

The Vicious Circle of Self-Help

In a field so oriented towards self-improvement, it can feel like running a marathon that never ends. You can begin to wonder, ‘Am I done yet? Am I my perfect self yet?’ But that attitude misses the point. Learning to live with ADD/ADHD, just like any other self-improvement endeavor, means making a commitment to keep evolving without losing self-awareness. The world keeps changing; the circumstances of daily life shift around outside of your control. Your goal is not to perfect an external system, but rather to know yourself inside and out, and to adapt to any situation.
Take a real-world example. Think of someone who had “perfected” managing his ADHD at work twenty years ago: minimal distraction episodes, good time management, and so on. Cured! But wait – then the Internet came around. The circumstances changed drastically, meaning it was time for this guy to adapt or to fail.
So real self-improvement is about learning your own unique strengths and weaknesses, figuring out the types of organizational or behavioral techniques that work for you and the ones that don’t, and keeping on your toes to apply them to any new situation that you find yourself in. How can someone handle that constant search for balance and self-awareness without getting completely burned out? The key is to have small, realistic goals, including big rewards when each goal is met.

Why 2012 Was Tops

If nothing else, 2012 was great because it’s over. For some people, this year was full of beautiful milestones like promotions, marriages, births, great vacations, and so on. Congratulations to you! For others, this year might have been sourer. The economy was still rough, especially in certain regions of the country. The future may have seemed a little more uncertain. The election got tensions high (and bored everyone to death of campaign ads.) Even for those people who can’t wait to throw the 2012 calendar in the trash can, this year was worth something. You learned. You changed. You grew. You probably failed some of the time, just like you probably won some of the time.
While moments of failure likely resulted in disappointment, self-doubt, maybe even punishment, did your accomplishments get their fair share of celebration? Sometimes it seems like bad news is worth ten times as much as good news in our culture. Mistakes blow up to be the end of the world, while small victories just become milestones in the rearview mirror as we push ourselves forward. The pretty good days of ADHD life get forgotten when compared to the meltdown days. Way too often the little successes just become a jumping-off-point for the next challenge.

Reward Yourself

Make it up to yourself now. Choose something you really want – an experience, a purchase, a meal, whatever your heart desires. And do it. It represents a ticker-tape parade in honor of every normal day where nothing went horribly wrong. Every appointment that you made it to on time. Every awkward or frustrating social situation that you navigated without losing your cool. Every time you found your keys exactly where you left them.
One important note: your “Yay Me” reward should not be something detrimental. This is not a one-step-forward, two-steps-back exercise. Pick something positive, healthy, and engaging. If you love sports, go see a game or set aside time to watch one with your favorite people. If you’re an adrenaline junkie, try a new thrill-seeking activity you’ve been mulling over. If your big project this year was to find calmer in your life, push that goal even further by spending a day hiking or at a spa. This experience should be constructive, and in keeping with the theme of appreciating your personal growth.

A Foundation for a Better Tomorrow

Whether you’re sad to see 2012 go or you’ve got all of your high hopes pinned to 2013, a little self-reflection can go a long way. In these cozy December days, remind yourself of what went right and what went wrong this year. As the famous quote says, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Ask yourself where you want to be this time next year, and how you plan to get there – complete with a lot more self-congratulations for the little successes along the way.

Author's Bio: 

As the founder and CEO of ADD Insights, LLC, Carol Gignoux's passion is to provide services that transform the lives of people with ADHD. Carol is well established as an expert within the ADHD coaching profession with over 35 years experience working with ADHD and over 16 years coaching.

Carol is a national speaker on ADHD topics and a motivational speaker on living authentically. In addition to coaching her clients with ADHD, she trains and supervises new ADHD coaches, and creates seminars and workshops that show people how to achieve their full potential.

You can reach Carol at carol@addinsights.com or visit her website at http://www.addinsights.com.