What do you want? This might be one of the most loaded questions in the English language.
What is your long-term, big-picture, no-guts-no-glory goal? Not to be morbid, but what is the accomplishment you would be proudest of in your obituary? For adults with ADHD, it’s common for those dreams to fall along the lines of healthier interpersonal relationships, steadier success in the workplace, or a deep and healing sense of self-confidence. These are beautiful goals. These are the sorts of accomplishments that can turn lives around.

It’s the time of year when everyone gets into a frenzy about resolutions. But as everyone stocks up on diet food and self-help books, I wonder if these resolutions are just beating around the bush of what we really want to ask for. Vowing to lose ten pounds, quit smoking, or save more money, what are you really getting at, but too afraid to say? You want self-acceptance. You want to value your life more. You want to invest your time in a more meaningful and enduring way. You want more permanence, more security, more joy.

“Achievable goals are the first step to self improvement.” – JK Rowling

This year, be daring. Take time for reflection. Dig deep and admit to yourself the thing you really want, the person you really want to be a year from now. It might feel silly, or uncomfortable, or sad. It might also feel surprisingly liberating. Life isn’t perfect, and those last few pounds aren’t the real source of the trouble. Admitting that to yourself can be the first step towards a bright future.

The impulse to create goals like jogging more or drinking less is helpful, and will be a healthy tool. The problem is that it’s treating the symptom, not the cause. Once the cause is identified, then it’s time to get to work and look at all of the bad habits that have sprung out of this root issue. You feel sad – why, and what happens in your life because of this? You feel angry – how does that affect your relationships?

Go back to that list of New Year’s Resolutions with fresh eyes and add some new ones. Seeking whole-person health and happiness can be done in many ways, and lots of good habits go hand-in-hand. By choosing multiple routes to the destination, a single failure (like ditching the diet) doesn’t mean total defeat.

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Which sounds more effective – a short New Year’s Resolution to go down a size, or a fifteen-step weight loss plan with rewards and cheat days built-in? Having a good plan often means the difference between success and failure. Plans let good habits become a seamless part of daily life. Instead of changing in fits and starts when you remember it or feel inspired about it, you simply follow the daily plan you have mapped out to inch toward your goal. I’ve blogged about planning many times, again and again and again. It is an essential component to personal growth, especially for those with ADHD.

This is the perfect time to lean hard on your support system, especially those folks with a talent for planning. Consult someone you depend on who is pragmatic and detail-oriented to begin your strategy. Reach out to another friend or family member who is a good cheerleader and ask him or her to check in on you often and root for you. Make your plans known, and give those who care about you the chance to lift you up. Keep your therapist informed of your progress. Bring an ADHD coach on to your team, who performs a little of all of those functions. Sharing a journey like this with others is not weakness. Rapid-fire thinkers often need to enlist the support of a professional to help them better understand themselves and their personal challenges. Later, you will all enjoy the victory together.

“In the absence of clearly-defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it.” – Robert Heinlein

You have the goals, the plan, and the support system – just don’t forget the higher aspiration behind it. Hold on to the deeper motivation, and you will achieve your reward, be it a more satisfying life, richer interpersonal relationships, or a more generous sense of self-awareness. The careful planning will keep the journey on course, but without reminders of the destination, all of this self-improvement would be another empty exercise like New Year’s Resolutions of the past. It can be so tricky, really owning your true vision, but believing in it and working hard towards it will manifest it into reality. Everyone deserves to be successful, to be loved, and to feel comfortable in their own skin. Make that wish come true for yourself in 2013.

Author's Bio: 

Carol Gignoux, M.Ed., is Boston’s longest-serving ADD/ADHD Coach and Coach Trainer and the founder of ADD Insights. Her approach is focused on the individual, with tailored strategies for long-lasting success. Carol serves her client base of children, teenagers, students, adults, couples, and executives with sincerity and support. Combining her four decades of experience with cutting-edge research, Carol is also available as a business consultant and family counselor, bringing out the best in an ADHD group. Nationally recognized as a public speaker, Carol conducts seminars and workshops throughout the United States, spreading her message: ADHD is not a handicap, but a different learning style that can become a valuable asset. She also shares her tips and resources through her popular blog (http://addinsights.com/category/blog/) and newsletter (http://addinsights.com/category/articles/). Reach Carol today at 617-524-7670 or Carol@ADDinsights.com.