As anyone living with ADD knows, one of the most prominent aspects of it is the propensity to bounce around from one idea to the next to the next to the next; starting 10 projects and being lucky to finish 1-2; planning out 3 start-up businesses but never incorporating even 1; jumping from 1 hobby to another out of boredom, etc. Before my diagnosis and beginning medication a decade ago, these tendencies were the bane of my existence. They were the reason that my Charlotte dental practice struggled non-stop for the first 11 years until my wife became actively involved. They were the reason that I’d become quite good at multiple sports but never truly excelled at any of them, despite it being obvious that I could have done so with enough effort. And in recent years, even with more understanding and experience and medication, they are the reason that our office has plateaued, even if at a level that less than 20% of dentists ever achieve. Yes, as we ADD’ers know, even when we KNOW that we should focus and stay on track, we still struggle to do so. Why? Because we have too many good ideas!
Too Many Ideas, Not Enough Time, Energy, or Money
One example? How about this blog? LOL This is my 3rd WordPress blog; the first and most important is the website for my dental practice. The second is www.DentalDigitalPhotography.com, which I started about 4 years ago to avoid having to repeatedly answer the same questions about dental photography techniques on DentalTown. After all, I’d developed a reputation as a photographer and in using both Photoshop and Lightroom for cataloging, editing, and publishing dental photos, so it seemed easier to build a new website and then refer people there. How many people with full-time jobs are going to say that, right? “…easier just to build a new website….” HA! And along the way, I developed an entire business plan around that site, based on making it an online learning center for which people would pay a monthly subscription fee, there would be live seminars, etc. But you can probably guess where this is going…….it never happened, of course. Family, work, martial arts, fun photography, all kinds of stuff got in the way of staying consistent with a blogging schedule, new material, learning to edit video. It could have worked, of that I am sure. But not by me. And so that idea languished, the website’s been neglected, and others have now far surpassed my knowledge and skill in those areas. The amount of work to even catch up makes it not worth the effort.
And once I was tired of that, because I still like writing about a lot of other stuff, and someone said something that inspired me, I started this blog so I could write about anything I like, whenever I like, no pressure. Thankfully, I have no plans to ever monetize this – it’s about me, our family, ADD, dentistry, books; essentially, this blog is intended to let me be as ADD as I wish. But still…..I started a 3rd website just because I could….
Painful Lessons in Saying Yes….Then No
2014 was a perfect example of what happens when you don’t say no. Naturally, this can happen to anyone, not just people with ADD. We happen to be people to whom it happens faster and more easily. We get sucked in before we even realize what’s happening, because it’s something new and interesting. Rather than re-writing the whole story, however, you can read these 3 posts for the story, and if you’re really interested, you can even check out some of the posts on www.DentalDigitalPhotography.com to see how far it went:
- Ever Feel a Little Overwhelmed? Yeah, Me Too
- The Law of Unintended Consequences
- Know When to Fold ‘Em
Saying No and Really Meaning It
With all that in mind, a big part of my goals for this “learning to thrive with ADD” self-improvement project is to learn to say NO a lot more, and to stick to it, and most importantly, to feel good about it.
I don’t know about others with ADD and a lot of unfinished ideas, but I’d bet that a lot of them have similar experiences, along with this gnawing feeling in your gut that you let yourself (or maybe others) down by not carrying your idea through to fulfillment. Know what I mean? It’s like, even if you recognize and know that idea isn’t going anywhere, you still feel bad about it. You wish you could find a way to make it happen because you know in your heart that it’s a good idea, and maybe one day …
This is one of the reasons I’m looking for an ADD coach/mentor, too. Someone who understands how my brain works, who can help me focus on those things that I know are TRULY important: my wife and daughters, dogs, work, and own happiness doing things that I can realistically do. Not only do I want to say YES to those important things, but I want to know how to let go of the other stuff completely and fully. And just as importantly, to catch and stop me before something else new and interesting comes along that distracts me once again.
Have you found ways to say no to all the cool ideas that bounce around your head? If so, please share them in the comments! And don’t forget, “Sharing is Caring,” so if this struck a chord with you in any way, or if you know someone else struggling with similar issues, please share the article. Thank you for reading!