20 Guidelines to Reside By: My ADHD Handbook
There is nothing like adversity to shape our perception and to force self-reflection in the hope of a better future. The past year has done just that for me (and for most of the people who are still getting used to pandemic life).
From these difficult times came a list of rules for living with ADHD – guidelines that I try to follow every day. Although the list was inspired by personal circumstances, I suspect that anyone with ADHD could benefit from this advice.
- Dance to your own tune and avoid comparing yourself to others, especially neurotypical ones. Just compare yourself to previous versions of yourself. Focus on keeping an internal scorecard rather than living on seeking approval from others. Find your own definition of success in this world.
- Understand ADHD its limits and its advantages. Study successful people with ADHD, how they achieved greatness and what they are intentionally avoiding. Try not to fixate on the negative aspects of the condition. Accept the hand you were dealt and focus on playing it through with minimal losses and maximal wins.
- Don’t use ADHD as a crutch or reason to be the victim. Nobody else wants your problem to have a negative impact on their life, and this mindset will only make life worse. Stop complaining.
- Beware of time bandits. Beware of the dopamine rush from alcohol, drugs, spending, social media, and other counterproductive time bandits. These quick fixes are likely to lead to long-term problems. Learn about healthier, more productive ways to self-medicate.
- Live frugally and save. ADHD has a sneaky way of causing sudden, unexpected landslides. Even when things are going well, you are minimizing your life. Don’t overload it with too many possessions. Astray towards simplicity. Try to maximize inflows into a high quality, tax efficient, long term investment portfolio. Learn more about the FIRE movement. Your financial cushion will give you much-needed security when all else fails.
- Stay disciplined. Make a daily routine. Try to wake up and fall asleep around the same time each day. Stay busy to fend off fear. Minimize distractions and negative triggers.
- Relentlessly pursue well-thought-out goals. Cut them into daily actions and habits and always prioritize them over everything. Never break the chain of doing this on a daily basis – no matter what.
- Try to do things 100% not halfway. Strive for mastery. Build confidence.
- Design your life around skills, abilities, interests, and ADHD limitations. Do not overlook entrepreneurship as the potentially safer option in your career. The usual 9-to-5 neurotypical pathway may not be a long-term solution. Stick to passionate endeavors no matter how difficult it may seem to fit the life around them.
- Find a reliable ADHD support group. This will be your pressure relief valve. Speak, but also listen compassionately and without judgment.
- Eat nutritious foods and train daily. Pick an exercise that you enjoy and do it often. Try to have fun with it. Don’t forget to hydrate.
- Be patient with those closest to you. Neurotypical friends and family won’t always understand you, and that’s fine. Learn to say “I’m sorry” freely, but not unnecessarily.
- Be humble. Hyperfocus can lead to some incredible achievements in life, but that doesn’t mean you have all or any of the answers at all. Try to talk less and do good for the world around you.
- Don’t try to act impulsively, especially when making important decisions. Spend a lot of time thinking through all the options and outcomes. Consult with others and be diligent. At the same time, don’t be frightened into analytical paralysis.
- Try to stay neat. Every object needs a home. A new thing in, an old thing out. Avoid clutter, excessive spending, and piling up. Process at least as much as you hunt.
- Compound knowledge. Read daily and try to fall asleep smarter than when you woke up. If you don’t understand something, look it up. Don’t be afraid to research your interests as long as it doesn’t get in the way of your priorities.
- Stay spiritual. Regardless of your religious or spiritual beliefs, you should express your gratitude, apologize when necessary, and take the time to help others.
- Find joy in the moment. Try not to let the potential challenges of the future overwhelm you – they probably aren’t as bad as you think. If you get lost, you will find solace in nature. A long walk can do wonders to re-calibrate yourself.
- Be your best self. Wash away the brooding, regrets, and other sunken costs that can clutter your life. Instead, focus on getting better. Don’t run back to what doesn’t work and expect the situation to change. Look forward to changes; do not fear it.
- Be thankful, despite inevitable hardships. What if you are a little different? It’s still a blessing to be here. Go live now to the fullest.
Rules of Life: Next Steps
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