Playing the Long Game with ADHD

Let’s talk about playing the long game with ADHD and sticking with it, no matter what.

Many of us ADHD brains get squirmy when we explore this concept.

woman focused on her computer

Over the years, we’ve convinced ourselves that we never follow through on anything. So the idea of being all-in, even when it’s hard, seems next to impossible.

Today I want to challenge that story.

In fact, I want to suggest that the opposite is true.

You are playing the long game in different areas of your life.

And what’s more, there is so much valuable information you can learn from each one.

In episode 157 of the I’m Busy Being Awesome podcast, we’re talking about just that.

Tune in to learn:

  • How to identify your long game
  • The powerful lessons behind it
  • How you can apply these lessons to other areas in your life where you want to further strengthen your follow-through muscle.

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 Episode 157: Playing The Long Game With ADHD, You Will Discover:

  • How to identify your long game
  • The powerful lessons behind it
  • How to apply these lessons to other areas in your life and strengthen your follow-through muscle further.

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Episode #157: Playing the Long Game with ADHD (Transcript) 

How to use the long game when you have ADHD

Hey everybody. Welcome back to the podcast. How are you? Have you been collecting evidence of all the times you’ve followed through this week? I hope so. As a reminder, last week we took a deep dive into why it’s so important to recognize these areas in your life where you do indeed follow through.

Again, a lot of our brains are quite convinced that we don’t do this. A lot of us with ADHD and ADHD tendencies have told ourselves the stories multiple times over the years that we can’t stick with anything. And last week we turned that story on its head. We began identifying all the different ways you do follow through on both the big and small levels on a regular basis.

I want to take this concept further by thinking about the long game.

We’re going to talk about:

  • My definition of the long game.
  • The importance of thinking through the lens of the long game for so many different areas of our lives.
  • Some powerful ways to step into this mindset to both strengthen your commitment to the areas in your life that are most important to you while further strengthening your follow through muscle overall.

Sound good?

Alright. Let’s first talk about the long game and what this actually means.

What Exactly Does The Long Game Mean?

If you look at the definition of the long game online, you’ll actually find several definitions for golf, which is definitely not what I’m talking about here. So if you saw this title of the podcast and you think you’re getting an episode on a golf game, you’re in for a surprise.

When I’m talking about the long game, I’m talking about thinking in the big picture toward a long-term goal, objective or purpose.

It’s about being in it for the long haul and why you’re willing to stick with it even when it’s hard.

In an article by Dr. Allison McWilliams, she talks about playing the long game as a strategy of taking the steps you need to take now in order to set yourself up for success in the future.

It’s a focus on the long-term gains rather than instant gratification, which – admittedly – can be an obstacle for the ADHD brain when we feel that pull of impulsivity and quick dopamine reward.

Generally, the long game means we’re thinking along the lines of a marathon rather than a sprint. It’s focusing on the overarching purpose of why you do what you do and the ultimate impact you’ll have rather than the specific role you’re fulfilling at this moment.

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Now, I love this idea of the long game and I think that it’s really appropriate for so many different areas of our lives. From long-term goals to your career trajectory, to building and strengthening relationships, to raising a family, to going to school, etc. It’s such a powerful lens to view those important areas in a person’s life.

Using The Long Game To Support Your ADHD

woman outside

One of the areas that I’ve been thinking about a lot over the last couple of years is the long game in learning how to work with and support your ADHD brain.

This is truly the long game, my friends. This is your brain. This is the brain you have forever.

It is the epitome of the long game.

With each new demand, new experience, and new transition in your life, each one of these situations presents obstacles and opportunities for growth.

When we can think of it through the lens of the long game, and remind ourselves that we’re in it, and willing to keep showing up and doing the work for you, this is everything.

Some of you might hear this and feel discouraged right now because your brain might be telling you that you are never in the long game.

Your brain might be telling you you don’t have this stamina for the long game period. So many of our ADHD brains shy away from long-term goals and big commitments. We don’t want to put ourselves out there because we believe we can’t stick with these things and we struggle to trust ourselves.

However, I think we are looking at this the wrong way.

We need to stop looking to the past for evidence of what we can do in the future.

If you want to look to the past, I think it’s so important to stop looking at these individual instances where we set a goal to meditate every day for a month, and instead start thinking bigger and recognizing the bigger patterns where we are following through and where we are sticking with it. 

And again, if you missed last week’s episode I highly recommend that you go back and give that episode a listen so that you help your brain expand and start seeing these areas where you are following through and you are playing the long game. Because I promise that you are. We just need to look for it.

Determining Your Long Game

This brings us to two important questions.

1. What might that long game be for you?

2. Why is it even important to look for this? Why does it actually matter?

As you’re listening/reading, some of you may already know an area that’s a long game plan for you. If that’s the case, amazing. Keep this in mind as we move throughout the episode.

If you’re struggling to identify something in your life where you are in it for the long game, I want to offer a couple of questions so you can create some clarity on an area for you.

When Are You Willing To Stick With It – Even When It’s Hard?

woman computer

Perhaps it’s a long-term goal, your career path, a super complex quilting project, it doesn’t matter.

What is a situation in your life where – even though things seem really hard, you’re not going got stop?

When somebody asks you seriously, “why don’t you just stop? You know you don’t have to do this, right?” You feel genuinely confused. Your brain is like, “does not compute.” Because of course, you’re all in.

Of course, you’re not going to stop. This is just the part where it’s hard, but you’re not actually thinking about stopping.

If your brain is struggling with thinking, “there’s nothing like that in my life“, I’ll share a few examples.


Family /Parenting

Your kids are trying your patience, nobody is helping out around the house, everybody has something to say to one another and they all know the exact right way to push one another buttons. And you’re so frustrated. Even at that peak level of frustration, you’re probably still in it for the long game.

You’re probably willing to play the long game of raising your kids!

You might need to go for a walk or hire a babysitter and take some time away. But you’re in it for the long game. You’re not throwing in the towel on your kids, right?

Again, I like to go to extreme examples just to show your brain that you do have somewhere in your life where you’re all in.

This might be a relationship or connection with those you love. It could be a personal goal.

Maybe you are building a house, and you are halfway through and deep in the messy middle and you feel so frustrated thinking about the entire process. But you know you’re in it for the long game. You know you’re willing to keep calling back the contractors and figuring out the next steps because you’re in it. You’re not giving up.

Maybe it’s a certain career path or your business or a new offer in your business.

Whatever it is you’re willing to stick to, I invite you to think about one of those areas in your life where you are in it for the long game.

Where you are willing to stick with it even when it’s hard?

Why is this important?

The reason I’m having you identify one of these areas is we can start uncovering some powerful thoughts and feelings you have around the particular situation that allows you to follow the long game and stick with it.

It allows you to maintain that persistence even when things have really challenged you more than you could have ever imagined.

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My Long Game: Personal Examples

I’m going to share with you one of the areas in my life where I’m all in for the long game, and I would love for you to think about your own example as I share mine.

This will help you to create clarity in the reasons behind your long game.

This exercise will give you greater insight into the thoughts that create this sense of commitment while also highlighting what’s really important to you. When you know this information you can then apply it to the other areas of your life with greater ease, which then makes following through a little bit easier in other areas.

My Business

One of the areas in my life where I am absolutely all in on the long game is my business.

As you might imagine, and as many of you know, having your own business and being an entrepreneur is not always super easy work.

Being in business for yourself has a lot of amazing things and a lot of challenges.

It is definitely the definition of 50/50. Yes, you get to share your ideas with the world and help other people and do what truly lights you up. And that’s amazing. However, there are also so many opportunities for failure. There is a lot of vulnerability and risk. There is so much space to receive public feedback and a whole lot of opportunities to quit.

Despite all of these challenges and vulnerable experiences when my toddler brain wants to quit, I don’t. The reason why I don’t is that – again- I’m in it for the long game.

The reason why I’m in it for the long game is what keeps me going.

As I share with you the long game reason why I’m willing to be uncomfortable, to navigate failure, to put myself out there, to be vulnerable, I invite you to think about the same reasons for you.

  • Why are you willing to feel all those uncomfortable emotions because you’re in the long game?
  • Why is it so important to you that all of that discomfort comes second to you bigger reason why?

When you get clear on that, it will help you, not only uncover the powerful thoughts that help generate commitment for you in more areas of your life, but it will also shine a very bright spotlight on your values and the things that matter most to you.

The reason why I’m all in for the long game in my business is that I want to create generational change for the ADHD community.

ADHD is genetic. In fact, ADHD is as heritable as height. So if you have ADHD, there’s a good chance that one of your kids will too.

So, my long game – my ultimate goal with I’m Busy Being Awesome, with this podcast, with We’re Busy Being Awesome, with my private clients and my mastermind Intention and Impact. – is to support generational change.

If I can help fellow ADHD brains learn how to accept and love themselves… If I can help them accept who they are and where they are at while learning how to create the support and scaffolding that feels amazing for their brains without any shame, then they’ll be able to pass that mindset onto their kids. And their kids will have that mindset so much earlier in their lives, which they’ll be able to pass on to their kids. 

When I think about the long game, I’m thinking about improving the lives of my clients’ grandchildren.

This is possible because my current clients are courageous enough to dive in and do this hard work of rewriting and rewiring so much societal programming as they learn to love and accept themselves and their brains and what works best for them. And I’m telling you, that’s everything.

This long game why is something I can’t possibly shake.

If I’m nervous to do a webinar or if I decide to create a new offer at some point and it flops. Or if I get feedback that triggers my RSD. These are all very real possibilities in the online business space. But when I think about that long game, they’re just minor blips in the plan. They’re obstacles to strengthen my resolve and help me learn and grow and do better next time. But it’s certainly not going to stop me from moving forward on that long game.

Client Example of The Long Game: One of my clients is in real estate, and his brain loves to tell him that the market is not great for the kind of work he does. There are many different circumstances out there in the world that would help reinforce that thought. The other day, I told him. You know you could just stop. You could totally switch careers and go do something else. And he kind of rolled his eyes at me and laughed. He knew he wasn’t going to stop. Because he’s in it for the long game. He’s in it to build a legacy for his family and show his kids what’s possible. And the current market isn’t going to shake that long game for him.

One of my other clients in intention and impact as a coach for leaders in the tech industry. And we were talking about the long game the other day, and she mentioned that she’s in it to help change the game of hustle culture in tech. For those of you in tech, you know this is no small feat. But she’s in it to make that change. She’s in it to make a difference in a culture that otherwise runs on hustle adrenaline and caffeine.

Your Long Game: Why Are You In It?

mom and daughter

So with that, I invite you to ask yourself, why am I in it?

Think about where you feel committed.

It could be:

  • The relationship with your kids or your family
  • Going back to school or furthering your career.
  • Building a business
  • Learning how to slow down, rest and make time for yourself and the important people in your life

Why are you in it for the long game?

When someone asks you when things get hard, why don’t you just quit? What is that reason?

What is the reason that you are willing to stick with it and stay in the long game?

This is such an important exercise to do for two reasons.

1. Remind yourself of the passion you have:

I think this is a really important practice simply to remind your brain of your passion and commitment.

If you can’t of something you’re specifically committed to at this very moment, that’s okay. I do, however, encourage you to take some time to answer these questions. They are important. And if your brain says, “I don’t know. I don’t have a reason.” Sit with it. Wait for that answer to come up. It is there.

2. Evidence and confirmation of why you are all in.

I also love doing this exercise with an area that you’re already deeply committed to because it provides your brain with very strong evidence of a situation where you are all in.

Once you have this evidence you can help your brain open up to the reality that it is possible to develop this type of commitment in other areas of your life, too.

What’s more, you can learn from this current situation.

You can pull from your long game mindset that you have in this area and apply it to the next big thing that you’ve been thinking about. This is available to you.

When You’re in it for the long game there is less pressure

When you know you’re in it no matter what, you’re not putting as much pressure on yourself to make it happen NOW.

If things don’t go according to plan for a day or a week or a month your brain doesn’t catastrophize thinking to yourself, “I can’t believe I missed one day.” Or  “I can’t believe I skipped this commitment last week. It’s all over. I never stick to anything.” 

When you have your long game mindset, and you’re thinking 30 years or 50 years out, what happened yesterday is such a minor blip. It’s not going to phase you.

Every “failure” isn’t something that makes you want to quit. Instead, it’s just data to help you adjust, learn, grow and improve as you keep moving forward. Nothing’s gone wrong.

There is no rush and no pressure.

Whether your plan goes exactly as you initially thought, or whether you have obstacles or not, is really just the detail.

If it goes exactly as planned, great. If it doesn’t, great. Now you have more opportunities to learn and grow and adjust and ultimately strengthen your resolve.

With this in mind, this is my invitation to you.

Whether your long game is learning to work with your brain, building a business, raising a family, improving your health, living a minimalist life, meeting a partner, or going back to school for your masters, I invite you to lean into your long game mindset.

Give yourself this gift. I’m telling you, it is so powerful.

Questions to help you create clarity around your long game mindset. 

  1. Why are you in it for the long haul? 
  2. Why are you willing to stick with it even when it’s hard? 
  3. When you think about quitting, what are the reasons why you’d want to stay in it? 
  4. What can you remind yourself anytime you meet a stumbling block along the way or things don’t go as planned? 
  5. And how can you continue learning and growing from every single one of those experiences?

I know that you have it in you. This is your game.

You are in it because you want it.

Any obstacle along the way is here to make you stronger so that you can make that long game a reality.

If you’re ready to take the concepts you’ve learned on the podcast and apply them to your life, as well as support your ADHD in a way that works for YOU within a small, supportive community, check out my group coaching program, We’re Busy Being Awesome.

Want To Join Our Group Coaching Program?!

I will be opening the doors for the next cohort of We’re Busy Being Awesome in a couple of weeks!

Add your name to the waitlist so you’ll be the first to know about program dates and times, plus how you can sign up if it’s a great fit for you.

Also, have you grabbed the podcast roadmap yet? It has the most popular IBBA podcast episodes all detailed for you so you can get yourself up to speed and ready to work with your ADHD brain, you can grab it now!

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

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