Have ADHD? Don’t Miss This Essential Step When You Set Your Goals

If you’re part of the I’m Busy Being Awesome community, I’m guessing you’re familiar with these steps in the goal-setting process.

  1. Choose a goal. 
  2. Make it detailed and measurable with a specific completion date.
  3. Clarify for yourself why this goal is important to you. When you know your “why,” you have that powerful nudge to move forward even when things get hard.

These steps are solid.

These steps work.

In fact, I use them myself, and I help my clients with them, too.

The problem is that most people stop there.

And when we stop there, we miss a key component. 

We miss an important step that sets you up for success throughout the entire goal journey.

What is that step, you ask?

We’re talking all about it in episode 130 of the I’m Busy Being Awesome podcast.

I share what this step is.

Three reasons why we need it in our goal-setting process.

And three powerful ways you can apply it to your current goals both big and small to create the momentum you want.

You can listen to the episode above or stream it on your favorite podcasting app here:  

Prefer to read? No problem! Keep scrolling for the entire podcast transcript.

In This Episode, You Will Discover… 

  • The often overlooked step in goal setting
  • Three reasons why we must include it in our goal-setting process
  • Three ways you can apply these strategies to your goals to create the momentum you want

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Episode #130: Have ADHD? Don’t Miss This Essential Step When You Set Your Goals (Transcript) 

You’re listening to the I’m Busy Being Awesome podcast with Paula Engebretson episode number 130. 

Hello, everybody, welcome to the podcast. How are ya? Episode 130. How fun is that? Before we dive in today, I want to give a quick shoutout to one of the incredible members of our busy awesome community whose user name is Telesound. They left five-star review for the podcast titled, Super Helpful.

They wrote “Paula gets it!!! Paula knows how to take the book knowledge and put it into practice. She provides real-life examples for those of us with ADHD on how to tame the beast and move one’s life forward. She provides many helpful suggestions to implement in order to mane one’s time and get things done. I fully endorse this podcast and look forward to listening every week (multiple times.)

Thank you SO much for listening and taking the time to share this review, Telesound. You are truly busy being awesome. And if you are enjoying the podcast, would you take a minute and go to your podcast app to leave a review as well? It helps apple podcasts and Spotify know people are listening and it gives the algorithm a nudge to keep sharing it with more people. SO thank you.

Today, I’m excited to talk with you about an important step in the goal-setting process. It’s a step that I think is rarely talked about when we talk about goal setting and even less rarely followed, even if you do know about it. 

Now before we dive in, I also want to mention that depending on what kind of podcasts you listen to, or what the social media algorithm might be showing you right now, you might be thinking, Oh, my gosh, not another goal-setting thing. It’s already January 17. I already know what I’m working toward. I already know where I’m focusing my energy this year.

If that’s you, I get it. But I encourage you to stick with me on this episode. Because we’re talking about an important concept that, as I said, is often overlooked when it comes to not only setting but also reaching our goals. And it’s really important for any type of objective that you’re working toward. 

So if you’ve made your intentions or you’ve set your goals for the year already, I do encourage you to tune in to this episode. Because now is the time to check in and ensure that you have included this step. Now is the time to make sure you’ve explored this key step that we’re exploring today.

What’s Going To Stop You?

So what is this step? What is this important thing that so many of us tend to miss? Well, it’s all about making time to identify all of the different reasons why you don’t think you’ll reach your goal. 

Yes, you heard me right.

We’re going to spend some time today thinking about why you think your goal is impossible. Why your brain thinks you’re crazy for even imagining you could reach this goal. We want to make time to identify all of the potential obstacles in your way that could make reaching your goal nearly impossible. 

Now I know you might be thinking to yourself, “this is crazy. Why on earth would I want to think about all of this negative stuff? Why on earth would I consider all of the obstacles and all of the negativity?”

Paula, you’re always telling us to think thoughts that serve us. This literally does not make sense. If I think these negative things, won’t that hold me back? Won’t that keep me from reaching my goal at all? I’d so much rather ride this wave of excitement and motivation that comes with the start of my goal!”

And if your brain is pushing back with any thoughts like that, well done. You’ve been listening! I do often talk about choosing the thoughts that serve you. You know I’m all about thinking intentionally as much as possible. But at the same time, we want to be careful of black and white thinking. 

We don’t want to completely bypass or resist the fears, doubts, or concerns by sticking a positive affirmation on top of something that your brain genuinely sees as a problem. This is not useful. We need to believe the thoughts we’re thinking. And if we just swat away our brain’s concerns without giving them the time of day we don’t release them. What we’re really doing is just pushing them down for them to rise up again later.

So if you’re thinking yourself, “What? No, thank you; I don’t want to focus on the negative. If I focus on the negative outcomes, then they might happen. In fact, I might discourage myself from even starting.” Please know that I hear you. But also, I invite you to consider this alternative approach and see what you think.

So today I’m sharing three reasons why we want to identify potential obstalces, doubts, or fears that could keep us from reaching our goals, not because this will hold us back, but because it will increase our likelihood of making them happen. 

You ready? 

Prepare Your Brain Ahead of Time

The first reason we want to spend time identifying our potential fears and doubts and insecurities is to prepare our brain for when they inevitably do pop up. This way, when the negative chatter comes up along the journey to reaching our goal, it doesn’t come as a surprise. 

As I mentioned, it is very common for us to ride that wave of momentum the first couple of weeks that we’re working toward our goal. We might be thriving on the newness and the novelty of the goal. But sooner or later, especially if it’s a long-term goal or a rather big goal, you’re going to hit those obstacles. And if you have a human brain, especially a brain like mine, this negative chatter, this doubt, this frustration is going to come up. 

You will likely hear your brain thinking, “what’s the point? I’ve never been able to do this before.” “I’ve never been able to follow through before. “This is ridiculous; who do I think I am setting such a big goal? I should have known better.” 

When these thoughts come up, if you’ve identified them ahead of time, it’s so much easier to see them as thoughts. It’s so much easier to watch them float by in your mind but not listen to them – you don’t give them any weight. It’s so much easier to allow these sentences in our brain to be just that; they are merely sentences. They are optional thoughts that we don’t have to listen to. 

What do I mean here? If your brain is saying, “there’s no way I can possibly do this.”  That’s not the truth. It’s not a fact. Right? That’s just an optional sentence that your brain is offering because it’s well-practiced. It keeps you safe from doing something new or challenging. 

And when you identify this doubt – this negative chatter – ahead of time, you can easily spot it when it inevitably arises. As you progress along the path of your goal and you hit an obstacle or you reach a sticking point and your brain thinks, “we should just stop now; I knew we couldn’t do it. We never stick to anything.” You can think to yourself, “Oh, there you are brain. Right on time. I was expecting you. In fact, I made a plan for when you arrived.”

You made yourself aware of these doubts ahead of time, so you can head them more consciously in your brain as optional. So if your brain offers, “I’m already so far behind schedule. I should just stop now.” You can then pull out the thought you identified ahead of time as a response. “Good thing there’s no such thing as behind. As long as I take one step after another, I keep making progress. I’m right on track.” 

By planning for the thought ahead of time, you can have a response at the ready so that negative chatter doesn’t shake you. You don’t believe it. Instead, you can think about these thoughts just as you would if your child said, “I never want to eat another vegetable again. I will only eat candy for the rest of my life because it’s the best.” 

If this happened, you’d think, “yeah, okay.” But you wouldn’t believe them. You wouldn’t think to yourself, “well, I guess I better rethink our meals for the rest of time because my child only wants to eat candy.” You wouldn’t listen because that sentence is nonsense. 

The same is true with the negative chatter your brain offers you. You don’t have to listen. It’s optional. The only difference is that it feels much more true because it’s your own brain offering it. That’s why we want to identify these doubtful, fearful, frustrating thoughts ahead of time to have them on our radar. 

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Worst-Case Scenario

Alright, the second reason why we want to spend some time identifying all of the obstacles and all of the roadblocks that might pop up along the way is that this allows your brain to go to the worst-case scenario. And as we’ll see, upon going to that worst-case scenario, you’re showing your brain that even if the worst-case scenario happens, you’ll be okay. 

So what does this look like? We want to give our brains space to explore the question: what’s the worst-case scenario if I go after this goal? If I can go after this goal, what is the worst possible thing that can happen? And again, I know this sounds crazy, but I promise you it’s effective.

So what is that worst-case scenario that your brain’s desperately protecting you from? Because remember, your brain is wired to seek pleasure, avoid pain, and conserve energy. And so it does this by avoiding anything that’s new or unfamiliar or scary. 

Just think about it. Your brain has evolved to seek pleasure, avoid pain, and conserve energy. When you go after a goal and you’re doing something hard, it does not feel pleasurable, it feels painful. PLUS, when it’s new, you’re extending even more energy. So OF COURSE, your brain wants to avoid it. Of course, your brain offers all the reasons you should stop so it can go back to what’s familiar, safe, and easy. 

This is where the worst-case scenario exercise comes in. When you allow your brain to go to the worst-case scenario, you can see that you’re going to be okay, right? When you play it all the way out, you’ll see the worst-case scenario is doable. You can handle it.

Maybe when you go to worst-case your brain thinks, what if I try this thing and I’m TERRIBLE at it? What if I go after this goal, and I just am terrible?” Okay, what if that does happen? Answer that. Then what? And then maybe your brain says, “well, then people are going to laugh at me.” Okay? So you go after your goal, you find out you’re really bad at it. And people laugh, then what? Is that worst case? And your brain thinks, “well, then I’ll feel so so embarrassed.”

And that, my friends, is it. You might discover you’re bad at it. People might laugh. And you might feel embarrassed. And I’m not tring to downplay that experience. Believe me, I know how real and awful that feels. BUT, you’re preventing yourself from going after the possibility of reaching your goal because you don’t want to feel embarrassed. Maybe you like that reason, but maybe you don’t. You get to choose. 

Or maybe you think to yourself, “well, the worst-case scenario is I go after the goal and I keep getting stuck in the tech. I’m trying to do this thing. I keep getting stuck in the tech. And then I just get so frustrated that I quit. And then I’m frustrated with myself, too.” 

Okay. So in this situation, the worst-case scenario is that you try, and you get stuck in the tech and you feel frustrated.

Or maybe you think to yourself, “my worst-case scenario is that I go after this goal and I make an offer. And people say no. And then I have to feel rejected. I’d have to deal with rejection.”

So yes, these are all worst-case scenarios. And you know what? They could happen. You might feel embarrassed. You could feel disappointed. And you might feel frustrated or feel rejected. Yes, these things might happen.

The question is, are you willing to take that risk? Are you willing to experience those feelings? Are you willing to live the bigger life by living into the possibility of your goal? That possibility of success with the potential risk of feeling embarrassed or disappointed or frustrated? 

Because anytime you do the worst-case scenario exercise, you have to complete it by going to the best-case scenario, too. You have to give your brain equal air time. What if you reach that goal and make it happen? What if you make the offer and someone says yes? And what if you figure out the tech, after all that frustration, and you feel really proud of yourself? What if you’re really good at it? And you’re super successful? What if you reach that goal?

Again, anytime you allow yourself to go to worst-case scenario, you have to allow yourself to go to the best-case scenario as well. By doing this, you’re showing your brain you can handle both situations.

Okay, are you still with me? Number one, we want to identify the fears and the doubts so that they don’t surprise us when they show up down the road as you work toward your goal. Number two, we want to allow our brain to go to the worst-case scenario. And we want to do this so we can show our brains, “I can totally handle it. In fact, I can handle whatever that situation is.” 

Identify Strategies

And then the third reason why we want to challenge ourselves to identify potential obstacles is that doing so helps us create strategies in advance. 

Imagine your goal as the end destination of a long trek, okay? Maybe you’re going on a hiking trip for a week. You’re starting where you’re at now, right? The beginning of your hike. And imagine yourself looking at a map to create your route to your end destination.

As you look at the map, you might plan for obstacles along the way. Maybe there are some particularly grueling parts of the trek. Maybe you plan for rain or bad weather. You think about where you want to camp for the night and what you’ll do if there isn’t a good place to stop? What about the days when you’re feeling worn out? Etc. 

By identifying these potential obstacles ahead of time. You can then plan for them. And you can plan for them with one of my favorite strategies of if-then planning. If it’s an especially challenging day for hiking, then we will stop early to ensure we have time for rest. We’ll check the weather each day and if it calls for rain, then we’ll put the rain fly on the tent and stay put for the day. Or maybe we’ll stay in a shelter for the night depending on where you’re located. 

Having this kind of if-then plan, and strategies for any of the obstacles really helps prepare your brain ahead of time. Personally, I find I feel much more confident in my ability to move forward because when I have that plan it’s easy for me to think to myself: “Oh, I know what to do. If this obstacle comes up, then I can handle it with this. If this obstacle comes up, then I can handle that. Not a problem.” 

And all of those thoughts help me feel super confident in going after my goal even when those obstacles arise. 

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So how does this play out? I’ll give you an example for one of the goals I set for myself this year. Throughout the year I have an overarching theme that focuses on more rest and less hustle. And in this first quarter, I’m focusing specifically on sleep. 

So I identified my specific, measurable goal to get 7.5 – 8 hours of sleep each night (or at least be in bed with the option to be asleep – I can’t make myself sleep). But I want to have that habit locked in by the first quarter. And after identifying this, I went through the process of identifying my doubts and all the negative chatter that I know will come up. I thought about all the worst-case scenarios. And I also identified all the obstacles that I could think of that might stop me from sticking with my goal. 

And by taking this step, I felt so much more empowered. Because I feel prepared knowing what many of those negative thoughts will be when they come up. I identified them ahead of time to raise my awareness. I showed my brain that I could absolutely handle the worst-case scenario, and I spend time living into the possibility of the best-case scenario. AND I created solid if-then plans to help me navigate any obstacles that could prevent me from reaching my goal.

So as you think about your goals and intentions right now. As you think about the areas in your life where you’re focusing your energy, I invite you to consider these areas, too. Set yourself up for success by raising your awareness, creating plans, and having your own back as you step into the possibility of what’s next. 

Alright, my friends, that’s going to do it for us this week. And if you’re ready to take the concepts you’ve learned on the podcast and apply them to your life. If you’re ready to learn how to support your ADHD and work with your unique brain to reach your goals and take things to the next level, head over to imbusybeingawesome.com/coaching where you can learn more about working together to make that happen.

Also, if you know someone who would love to learn more about setting and reaching their goals, would you be a rockstar and share this episode with them? Each time you do, you help me get these tools to even more people, and I really appreciate it.

Until next time, keep being awesome. I’ll talk with you soon.

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