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Go Team 2023! Set Some Limits

Thanks to some combination of ADHD and personality, I often have trouble getting started on things. Whether it is starting a project in the first place or starting my work on it for the day, I find it really challenging to begin – no matter how much I want to do the thing.

This executive function ‘task initiation’ problem gets even more tangly if the thing I am trying to do feels important (to me or to someone else), if it involves many steps, or if the task is not clear.

Starting new habits often involves all of those things and the only way I have found to counter my inertia is by setting a limit – in time, task, or effort.

So, I agree that I am going to do just one task, or to work on the project for 10 minutes, or I am going to go gently.

And that can usually* help me find a way to get started.

If you are having trouble getting started with any habits you want to plan or develop, maybe setting a limit will help you, too.

Note: I’m NOT suggesting that having trouble getting started automatically means that you have ADHD/executive function issues. But, hey, you might as well borrow a technique from someone who has a lot of practice with the problem.

If you are having trouble getting started with your habit-related task for today – try setting a time limit or choosing a version of the task that feels accessible to you today.

If you are having trouble making a plan at all, try choosing a time limit and low-key task for this aspect of the plan. For example, you could say something like ‘I can’t set a plan for the whole month, that’s too big. I’m going to do 1 minute of meditation each day for the next 3 days and then reevaluate.‘

If you have repeatedly had trouble getting started, with your plan or with your habit tasks, the problem is not you – it’s a mismatch between your plan and your capacity. I’ll get into that in tomorrow’s post but in the meantime, please be kind to yourself about the whole thing.

And, of course, I have a gold star to offer you for your efforts today – no matter what they are.

Good luck out there!

*Not always, unfortunately, sometimes ADHD wins. I just have to be kind to myself about that and try again another time.

A small painting of a gold star with​ gold dots radiating out from it in all directions
A small painting of a gold star with gold dots radiating out from it in all directions

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