5 Powerful Steps to Reaching the Goals You Want With ADHD

Let’s talk about creating your results:

  • Reaching that goal on your mind.
  • Maintaining the habits that serve you.
  • Generally living into the vision that you want for your life.

Recently, I’ve thought a lot about how to create these results with greater certainty.

And during this reflection, I landed on two key obstacles which, because we’re not aware of them, often hold us back.

Today I’m excited to share what those two challenges are and a powerful 5-step process to navigate them.

So if you’re not seeing the results that you want in your life. 

Or if you’re feeling frustrated, confused, or overwhelmed thinking about how to move forward.

Then episode 105 of the I’m Busy Being Awesome podcast has your name on it. 

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

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

Listen To The Podcast Here!

In This Episode, You Will Discover… 

  • Two key obstacles that keep us from creating our results
  • A powerful 5-step process to navigate those challenges
  • Simple ways to use this process today and start creating the results that you want

Links From The Podcast

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Episode #105: 5 Powerful Steps to Reaching the Goals You Want With ADHD (Transcript)

You’re listening to the I’m Busy Being Awesome podcast with Paula Engebretson episode number 105. Hey, friends. Thanks for tuning in today. What’s happening? How are you feeling?

In fact, I want to invite you to take a minute to check-in with yourself.  What are you doing right now? Maybe you are out walking your dog. Maybe you are making dinner or putting away laundry. Or maybe you are on your way to work and listening in your car. Or maybe you are out on a run. Whatever you’re doing — as long as you aren’t driving and you’re in a safe place. Pause a minute and take a deep breath. Check-in with yourself. How are you feeling?

As I sat down to record this podcast, I realized that I was feeling a bit anxious and rushed. My shoulders were tight. My jaw was tight. And I have this tension in my chest. It was that familiar feeling that comes along with time scarcity for me. I could feel the tension and the pressure I was putting on myself.

And since I don’t like to create from that energy, I decided to pause and do some self-coaching and some journaling to figure out what was going on. I realized that I was thinking about the construction that’s still going on outside my house, and I wanted to get this episode recorded before the workers got back from lunch. It was some of the old thought patterns about running out of time and not having enough time. I won’t be able to get it done.

And then I reminded myself – just as we talked about in episode 103 – that these thoughts are optional. I don’t have to believe them. And I reminded myself of my new intentional thoughts that I practice over and over about time, which are: “I always have enough time to get it done. I create my time. And I have an abundance of time. And if the construction starts, it starts” So now I’m about to add more evidence to those beliefs for myself. I’m about to prove those thoughts true. And I am back to my favorite emotions that I like to generate when I am talking with all of you, which are excitement and connection, and inspiration. 

So what about you? How are you feeling? And what are you thinking about? So often we busy ourselves throughout the day. We run on autopilot from one task to the next without ever even noticing how we’re feeling. And today I invite you to press pause on that. Give yourself that attention. It’s a powerful thing to make a regular practice. 

Creating Your Results

But, that is not actually the topic of today’s podcast episode. Take that as a little bonus tip. And perhaps use this pause point to generate a sense of openness or curiosity as we dig into today’s topic, which is all about creating your results. It is all about showing up and creating the results that you want in your life and how you can do it.

Now when you think about what you want in your life, this might seem like a rather open-ended question. And it is. That’s intentional. Because what we are talking about today applies to both the big and small results that you want to create for yourself in your life.

These might be specific objectives that you set for yourself in your current job. Maybe you have quarterly sales goals that you’re working toward or something. It might be your health and wellness goals so you’re feeling stronger and have more energy. I’ve been working with several clients recently as they work toward developing a better self-concept and a better relationship with themselves. This is especially true with my clients who may have had a later ADHD diagnosis and they’re learning to accept this new part of their identity. 

But it could also be bigger picture questions. What do you want in your life over the next five or ten years? How do you see yourself experiencing your day-to-day? Where are you living? What is your career? Are you married? Do you have kids? Whether we are talking about the big picture vision for your life or smaller goals or habits on your immediate radar, we are taking a deep dive into how we can set ourselves up for success to make these results possible. How can we make it as good as done?

Why results are challenging

Now, we talk about goal-setting pretty often on this podcast. It is something that I am very passionate about because I think it is one of the most powerful ways for us to grow as individuals. I think that when we can set goals for ourselves and really learn how to not only map them out but also follow through and reach them, we are not only creating the results, but we also generate so many other strategic by-products as we learn to show up and be the people we want to be in our lives. This is huge. 

With that being said, goal setting and creating these results in our lives can be a sort of elusive process. And I see two main stumbling blocks that come up time and time again when I work on this process with my clients. And I want to dive into them in greater depth today. We are going to talk about what these obstacles are. And then we are going to talk about how to navigate them so that you are moving forward and intentionally creating what you want.

Lack of clarity

Now, the first stumbling block that often comes up has to do with a general lack of clarity when it comes to the specific goals we’re working toward. In other words, we have a general idea. We have the general direction in which we’re headed. But we tend to stop there.

It’s kind of like if we decide to drive to Chicago, but we don’t look at a map. Nor do we don’t know specifically where we’re going in Chicago. Instead, we just start driving in the general direction in hopes that we stumble upon the city and the specific location we’re looking for. And if you have my sense of direction, you probably don’t want to hold your breath on these odds. 

And this sort of vague direction is what I often see when it comes to creating a vision or choosing goals for ourselves. We keep it super vague, which makes it incredibly challenging not only to get there but also to know whether or not we’ve actually arrived. 

Do I want this?

Now, the other reason why I think we struggle to create our results is that we’re not entirely clear if we actually want the goal, or if we are simply telling ourselves we “should” want it. And this is an area that I think deserves a lot more attention in general. 

So often we get wrapped up in what we think we should want or should do. We adhere to expectations from the people we love in our lives without ever really questioning them. We compare ourselves to societal expectations of what we should do, how we should be, and what is classified as “successful” or not. And because we are so busy working toward these goals, it’s rare that we slow down to pause and question our motives. It’s rare that we slow down to ask ourselves: “is this what I really want to do?” 

And one of the most important things that I have found when it comes to goal setting and following through on our goals, not only for myself but also for my clients, is that it makes all the difference in the world when you actually care about the goal. When you’re working toward a goal that you truly want — something that is in integrity with who you are and what’s important to you is the game-changer. 

Because when you are working towards something that’s driven by “should” or fear or someone else’s expectations, that’s often when we get into the hustle mentality. That’s when we push ourselves to the limit from an energy that doesn’t feel good. That’s not sustainable. And that — from my personal experience anyway – leads to burnout.

But when you have a goal or a vision that truly lights you up inside. When you know without a shadow of a doubt that you are willing to put in the work and you’re excited to do it. Even when things get hard — that’s the difference. That’s the difference between “I have to” and “I get to.” It’s the difference between “should” and “want.”

It may seem like semantics. But just think about how that slight difference feels in your body. “I should do this” vs “I want to do this.” “I have to.” And “I get to.” It makes all the difference in the world. And we want to make sure that the goals and the visions that you’ve set for yourself are in alignment with what YOU really want. Not what you think you SHOULD want. And certainly not what everyone else thinks you should want. But instead what YOU want. 

Because when you work toward a goal. Or when you work toward multiple goals that build toward a bigger vision. When you don’t have clarity on where you’re going or it’s something you don’t actually want, it’s like pushing a boulder up a mountain in flip flops blindfolded. And when things get hard, it’s so much easier to let that boulder roll right back down the hill and you along with it. 

But today, we are going to learn a powerful five-step process that helps you remove the blindfold, put on some hiking boots, and have the tools that you need to support you as you make that climb toward the next goal. And again, you can use this process for both smaller projects and goals in your day-to-day life, or when you’re looking at the bigger vision for your life 1 year, 3 years, or 5 years out. 

What do you want?

So step one in the process is to get clarity on what it is you want in your life. So often we go about our day-to-day, constantly putting out fires and problem solving for the immediate obstacle in front of us. And because we fill our time and occupy our mind with the immediate, we don’t create space to explore that simple yet powerful question — what do I want? 

And that’s where I want to start today. What is it that you want? When we think about the self coaching model, which I have talked about on the podcast and use with my clients, you can put whatever you want in the result line. And by working your way back up the model through your actions, feelings, and thoughts, you can figure out your plan to get there.

So you can put whatever you want in the result line of your life. What will you include? What are all the things you want to have or do or experience? Start with a thought download everything you can imagine. What lights you up? What makes you excited? What’s that idea you can’t stop thinking about? Let your brain dream and explore.

Again, these can be big visions or smaller goals. How do you want to spend your free time? How much free time do you have? What career do you have? How often do you work? How much money do you make? Where do you live? Did you run that half marathon? Have you established a regular yoga practice? Do you have a better relationship with yourself? Do you travel to a certain number of locations each year? Have you published your manuscript or started your blog? In this step, it’s like you are pulling out the map. You are identifying that goal or that vision for yourself. And you’re giving yourself a general idea of where you want to go. 

So grab that piece of paper, can do without download. Get all of it out on paper and find what seems amazing to you. Choose one of them, and take that one vision or that one goal on to step two. And save this document so you can return to it when you’re ready for the next goal. 

Just because we’re going to start with one goal at a time doesn’t mean we can’t do the others. In fact, when we go one goal at a time, we have an easier time getting through your incredible list of ideas at a faster pace due to your focused attention. And if you want more information on this concept of constraint and focusing on one goal, be sure to check out episode 76 of the podcast, which I will lead to in the show notes.

What does that mean specifically?

Now once we identify what our focus is, it’s time to get super-specific. Because often, we leave our goal or vision at something like: “I want to have more downtime in my life.” Or “I want to make more time for connection with friends.” Or maybe we get a little more specific, and we say something like, “I want to get this promotion at work.” But when we leave it in these general terms, it’s still only like choosing the city where we want to travel. We still don’t know specifically where we’re going or when we are going to get there.

And since we have no idea what our goal actually means, that is the second obstacle we have to navigate. The first was the general not knowing what we wanted or what result we would create. And now it’s time to get a little more specific. Because if we don’t, this is when our perfectionist brain might sneak in. And if we have a general vision of creating more downtime, or spending more time with the people we love, or exercising more often, we have no way of measuring this.

And if you’re anything like me, you’ll start telling yourself “Well, I did some. But it’s not enough time. I’m not making enough time for the people I love. I’m not exercising as much as I should. And I’m not taking enough downtime.” So when we stay super vague, our brain loves to find reasons to criticize and tell us it’s not enough. 

And as we know when the model, if we have a certain goal, and we tell ourselves we’re not doing it enough. Or we should be doing more. It probably creates some feelings of shame or guilt. And when we feel those lovely emotions, it tends to send us into a spiral. We want to hide under a blanket and do nothing. We shut down. And absolutely without a doubt, those thoughts are going to prevent you from creating the result that you truly want, whether that is more time with people you love, more downtime, moving your body more often.

Alternatively, the other major obstacle that I see come up when we don’t get specific is confusion. Our brain starts spinning out in indecision because it doesn’t know exactly what it’s working toward. What does it mean to have more downtime? What does it mean to spend more quality time with your family? How do we know if you’re moving your body enough? What counts as movement? 

And when we get stuck in the feeling of confusion, we start to spin. We get stuck in the details. We get confused about how to make intentional time for these different results we want to create, because we don’t actually know what we’re creating. And the brain loves to spin in confusion because that takes way less energy than having to actually do the work.

So in step two, we need to know specifically where you are going. If we stick with our map analogy, where is the exact address that you’re headed to? How will we know when you get there? What does “done” look like?

Maybe you have made X amount of dollars in revenue in your business by a certain date. Maybe you end work by 4:30 every day and spend at least one and a half hours of intentional, phone-free time with your family whether that’s playing outside or cooking dinner together or movie night or whatever. Or maybe that means establishing an exercise habit with two days of weight lifting two days of cardio and one day of yoga or stretching every week for at least 20 minutes.

You get to choose what this means. So often our brain wants to resist this step. It wants to remain vague when we decide our results. Your toddler brain will ask you, “why does this even matter? This isn’t important. Why do I have to be so specific?” 

When this happens, don’t worry. Your brain is just freaking out trying to conserve energy. Not a problem. But it’s also not the way we create results. So challenge yourself to get specific. Challenge yourself to know the exact address that you would enter in your GPS to ensure that you follow through and know exactly where you’re going. You want to know the exact result you’re creating. Give your brain direction so it knows where to go.

“There” won’t be better than “here”

Now the next important thing to remember when it comes to creating the results in our lives is that “there” won’t be better than “here.” Meaning, once you reach the goal, everything won’t suddenly be better. You won’t suddenly find happiness. And your brain will absolutely want to resist this concept. Mine still does to some extent, too. 

We might get it intellectually, but on a deeper level, we really think that once we reach the end goal, or once we create the result in our lives, everything will be rainbows and daisies. The grass will be greener. Birds will be singing. And everything will be perfect. 

And I’m very sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but this just isn’t true. Life is still going to be 50/50. And it is not going to be the change in your circumstance that makes you suddenly feel happy. It is your thoughts that will change that experience and how you feel about it.

And this is true on so many levels. In my personal experience, I thought that “there” would be better than “here” in terms of my education. I thought to myself, “once I finish my dissertation and get my PhD, then things will be better. Then things will be easy.” Not true.

Then I told myself, “once I get a postdoc, once I finish the postdoc. Once I get tenure-track job as a professor. Once I get my book published. And once I get tenure…” I kept moving the needle telling myself that “there” will be better. “There” will be better than “here.” And here’s the reality. It’s not true. “There” is the same as “here” until you start shifting your thoughts and learning to manage your mind.

Maybe you feel anxious about a presentation for your team next week. You keep thinking to yourself, “once I get done with this, things will be so much better. It’ll be so much easier.” Again, some of that might be true. Maybe you’ll get to change your activities a little bit. But on the other side of the coin, you also have to navigate feedback from the team or your boss or the clients. Or maybe you’re onto the next project and you start the cycle again.

And I don’t want this to be a Debbie Downer here. But the reason why I bring this up, is because you really have to want this goal. You really have to know why you want to create this result in your life. Because on the way to creating it, you’re going to go through the messy middle — which we talked about back in episode 91. 

And what’s more, on the other side of creating it, there’s often the maintenance. You need to keep putting yourself out there and making offers and sharing your work with the world if you want to continue growing your business or getting that promotion. You need to continually set aside that downtime and stop hustling even when things seem busy, even when you’re feeling stressed out because you are committed to creating more space and downtime with family. 

So step three is really getting clear on why you want this result. Why are you willing to go through the messy middle. Why are you willing to continue following through for the long run? By creating this clarity for yourself, you’re going to be much easier time sticking with it.

Maintain your commitment even when it’s hard

So how do we do this? How do we create the commitment we need to continually follow through? How can we ensure that we keep showing up for ourselves even when our toddler brain is throwing a fit and simply not wanting to do the thing? 

I was on a training last week. Though… by the time you hear this, it’ll be a couple of weeks out. But I was on a training for entrepreneurs taught by Kristen Carter. On it, she talked about this concept of building your desire. And I think this concept is really applicable for what we’re talking about today with creating the results – reaching the goals – that we want in our lives.

And this might mean intentionally creating more downtime for ourselves or time with family. It might mean getting your physical things organized and decluttered around the house. Maybe it is creating a system for work that allows you to stay on top of your projects. Maybe you are paying off debt. Or maybe you are sticking with a meditation habit. Whatever it is that you are working toward, now is the opportunity to start building desire not only for reaching the end goal, but the process as a whole. How can you start generating desire and excitement for the process now?

If you are de-cluttering and organizing your house, how can you generate that desire so that you make specific hours in your week non-negotiable to get this work done? Maybe you think about how amazing it feels when you’re looking at your closet, and you’re thinking yourself: I love every single item of clothing in here, and there is no wasted space. Maybe you envision how you will feel as you donate the clothing that you know someone else will love as much as you did. Or maybe you generate excitement because you pair the organization and decluttering with listening to some of your favorite podcasts, so that you genuinely look forward to doing the work, because you’re also listening and learning and exploring new ideas at the same time.

Alternatively, maybe you’re establishing a meditation habit. And you’ve noticed yourself starting to skip more days than you would like. How can you start generating that passion and excitement once again? Maybe you think about settling into your meditation pillow ahead of time. And you remind yourself of how centered and clear you feel at the end of the session.

Maybe you remind yourself of how much you enjoy it once you get started. Or maybe if it’s a challenge throughout, you think about the way you feel at the end. Because let’s be real, if you’ve ever had a semi-regular meditation practice, there are days when it just is a slog. Perhaps you think about your future self and how you want to be that person who sticks with her plan of meditating five or six days a week. And you re-commit because you remind yourself of that desire to be a person who follows through. 

So think about this for yourself. How can you generate that desire ahead of time? And this is — looking back to our third step and the 50/50, this is where you put in the work. It may feel amazing to have followed through and done the meditation. But you still had to deal with the discomfort of sitting down and actually doing the thing, even when you don’t want to in the moment right? There is still that degree of discomfort at some point. 

You may feel amazing when you declutter your house, but you still have to deal with the discomfort of decision-making, and deciding what you want to give away, and making time and space to do it. It’s all 50/50. And by reminding yourself of why you want it. By building your desire ahead of time, you make it much more likely that you will create that result that you want.

Make it known with accountability

And finally, step five to creating your results is sharing it. Make it known. Create some accountability for yourself. And this can be accountability to yourself by literally writing down the result you want to create and reminding yourself of it regularly.

Or maybe it’s sharing this goal with a best friend or your partner or colleague at work. Maybe it’s sharing it in a Facebook group. Perhaps you work with a coach so they can support you not only through accountability, but also all of the mind drama that comes up along the way. 

In fact, that’s one of the things that I do a lot with my clients. We get clear on their goals — the results — that they want to create. And we break the steps down and we create a plan and they hold themselves accountable not only to themselves but also with me. They check in on slack. They let me know how things are going. We coach through the brain drama. And we see that progress happen. And we celebrate the wins as well. 

By creating that accountability for yourself — again whether strictly with you making that result known and reminding yourself of it often or with other people – this can be a powerful tool to help you think further about why you want this, why it’s so important, and why you’re willing to make the results happen no matter what.


So as you think about where you are at in your life right now, I invite you to consider the results that you want. Start by creating a list for yourself. What do you want? What results do you want to create for yourself? And what does that mean specifically? Get really clear on what “done” looks like so you know exactly what you’re looking for. Don’t just decide that you’re driving to Chicago and hop in the car. Choose a specific location, put it in the GPS, and then start the process. 

Next, take some time to really remind yourself of why you want this goal in your life. Why do you want to make this happen? Because “there” won’t be better than “here.” It’s still going to be 50/50. So by deciding ahead of time, recommitting regularly, and reminding yourself of why you want this result makes all the difference in the world. Once you’ve made that commitment, continue building your desire. Think of your future self. Find ways to enjoy the process. How can you make the entire experience something that you look forward to rather than only focusing on the end goal? How can you enjoy the process? 

And then finally, create some accountability for yourself. Whether you are accountable to yourself, your friends, or a coach, give yourself an extra boost of commitment through accountability. And if you have certain results that you want to create in your life, and you would love some extra support to help you make that happen, definitely head to imbusybeingawesome.com/coaching. Sign up for a free consultation. And we can talk about those goals you’re working toward, map out a plan, and decide whether we’re a great fit to work together and make them happen.

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