Last month I wrote about creating a ritual, to contemplate where we are in our lives and what direction we would like to focus on in the coming year.
Intense people with ADHD traits (and I include myself in this group) may have a lot of ideas but have a hard time focusing and putting a plan into place that won’t overwhelm.
We may have great intentions, but we may also have doubts about our abilities to get things done. And we often take on too much.
I visualized during my ritual, but I didn’t write down my intentions. I’m going to do that now.
Research shows that writing down intentions helps you to achieve them. Writing uses parts of our brain that other ways of expression don’t use, and affects what we believe is possible.
I like the word intention, because it implies that I will put into practice certain behaviors. I will aim for an objective. But the most important thing is how I think and behave on a day-to-day basis.
Although we acknowledge that there are things that we want to achieve, we also have to let go of the idea of doing everything perfectly. Instead, we need to remember to stay present, do our work in the best way we can, and see what emerges.
Here are some steps you can take right now to keep you on track:
1. Write down your intentions for the year—but not too many. We can make intentions for any area of our life.
Example: One of my intentions is to eat more slowly and mindfully, and to try new recipes; while another is to begin researching a new writing project.
2. Prioritize. What do you really want and need to achieve? You may have a combination of kinds of objectives: some that absolutely must get done for practical reasons, and others that give your life inspiration and meaning.
Example: If you are a student, you may need to get a good grade in a required course in order to get your degree; or you may need to get a part time job to pay your expenses. But you may also want to take a course or start a project that is meaningful to you.
3. Be realistic. Be kind to yourself. Remember: Progress not perfection.
Example: I know that it takes me longer to complete certain tasks than I would like. I may set a time frame of three months to accomplish a particular objective. But another obligation may intrude, such as doing my taxes, and I will have to change my plan for a period of time. If this happens to you, when you can, just pick up where you left off.
4. Break down your large objectives into shorter milestones with action steps, with a time frame. Even if it’s just a guess, having a time frame makes us more likely to hold ourselves accountable. What will you accomplish by when?
For example: If you are a student who is working on a paper, when will you complete the research, the outline, the first draft?
5. Make a schedule. Which days of the week will you devote to your particular objective? What time of day? How many hours each day?
Example: Many people find that first thing in the day, when concentration may be easiest, is the best time for working on what they love to do, and that other tasks can come later.
6. Keep your intentions and objectives where you can see them. Create a system that works for you.
Example: I use a couple of systems. I have a detailed “master plan” that I keep in a folder. Each large sheet of paper has a mission statement and all of the tasks that have to get done for my intention to become a reality.
I then use different colored index cards for each project, with brief notes, and display them on one corner of my desk. In this way, I can cross things off and write new cards week to week.
Look at your life and the direction you want it to take – set intentions that you can practice day-by-day, moving towards your objective mindfully and realistically.
It’s good to hold a vision. But it’s also essential to create small action steps and concentrate on what we can do today, tomorrow, and the next day. In this way, we can move forward and see our progress unfold.
“Be simple: Take the next logical step.”