Distractoids* live reactively. They’re in a reactive “mode” almost all the time. Life is about scrambling to keep up. Keeping up with the daily tasks of life. And keeping up with an unconscious image of who they think other people want them to be.
Masters of Distraction — let’s be honest — live reactively a lot of the time as well. But MODS have two “modes”: they know how to be proactive, too.
Being proactive means taking initiative, imagining how you want things to be in the future, and making choices that will lead to the desired outcome. Ultimately, it is the way you become the person you choose to be …
How does that happen? Let’s break it down …
1. Get the Insight Through an ADHD Lens: We all know the difference between acting and reacting. ADHD makes using that insight difficult because the ADHD brain only wants to deal with the present moment’s pressures, interests, and intrigue. Being proactive requires future-thought. What others may do automatically, we must do more consciously. We will do well to take that resistance into account.
2. Wipe the Slate Clean: If you’re kicking yourself for always being on the back foot, wipe the slate clean and be kind to yourself. No self-blame, no shame.
3. Baby Steps: This is not the time to become Mr. Proactive Guy or Gal. MODS get to be MODS one little step at a time. The good news here is that a little proactivity can go a long way.
Make Two or Three Easy Choices That Matter — and Observe: Here, I am thinking about important but non-urgent actions that are easy to put off but that might cause major headaches down the road. What would you like to be more proactive about? Taking better care of your health? Planning for your business? Saving money? What would make a difference in how you feel about yourself?
4. For everything there is a Time: Pick a smart time to get proactive, the same time each week. A time that is linked to other activities that will help trigger your memory and help you both get started and stay on track.
For instance, I tend to have unstructured time on Sunday. It used to be I didn’t know what to do with myself. So I would do nothing, or watch sports, and scramble all week. Now I have a group of connected activities — at least connected in my non-linear brain — that I do on Sunday afternoon.
— I call or email family members and friends if I haven’t been in touch for a while — not spontaneously, but consciously and with proactive intention.
— I spend five minutes thinking about what important but non-urgent actions I can take that will help my business down the road. My intention is to complete that action on Monday, which for me is mentally linked to Sunday. (I might forget by Tuesday, Wednesday for sure.)
— I take care of one or two miscellaneous but important tasks. Things like getting new tires for my car. Or some repair that needs to be done around the house. By having a time for these things, I never think — and needlessly worry — about them during the rest of the week.
— I also usually go grocery shopping on Sunday and cook dinner at home. I try to make the dinner both relatively healthy and a little bit special. I consider these actions to be proactive, because I’m taking care of myself in a way that sets me up to have a decent week. It makes it all the better because I love to cook and actually like grocery shopping as well.
And that’s it. Nothing heroic.
— Bonus: Routines Can Work Even if You Don’t Always Do Them Routinely: Do I do all these things every Sunday? Of course not. I might not do any of them. I have ADHD. And I am still a recovering Distractoid. But as long as I don’t drop the routine completely, it doesn’t seem to matter. Because I’ve linked time and activities in a way that makes sense to my particular brain, things don’t go back to chaos. Try it and see.
One last point. Once you’ve successfully experienced how doing small things proactively can have an outsized settling influence on your life, you might find yourself getting the taste to do a little more, maybe on a larger scale … You might attempt that on your own, or you might think about hiring a coach …