Work life with ADHD and underdeveloped executive function skillsDec 18, 2021
Work life with ADHD and under-developed Executive Function skills is chaotic and challenging enough, but what if you found yourself putting everyone else’s needs above your own? Saying ‘yes’ to everything…
What if your employer didn’t know how to make room for your ADHD superpowers?
Does this sound familiar, like this could be your story, too?
In this two-part blog, I’m going to share with you how two of my students went from stressful, hectic and unsatisfying job environments to gaining the skills they needed to secure better and happier work for themselves. It started by transforming themselves…
Coaching + Community = Success
Life with ADHD is full of starts and stops, unexpected twists and turns, like being on a high-speed train with an ever changing route and no real destination in sight. And although you’re a passenger, you didn’t choose to buy the ticket, and maybe you never even knew you were on this particular train.
That’s how Tuvi* felt before he encountered Dr B and ADDventures In Achievement. He describes his former life as chaotic and often out of control.
Saying “Yes” When You Want to Say “No”
Tuvi, who works in the digital marketing industry, believed he had to do everything that anyone else asked of him, and he also thought he could do it all.
Because of his own under-developed Inhibiting and decision-making skills, he never paused to consider what committing himself to others’ requests would cost him in his time, energy and effort. Without understanding the need for timelines and the expectations of others, he always felt overwhelmed in accomplishing his own work tasks, as well as the additional ones he agreed to.
It took Tuvi a while to come to an important realization: “Saying ‘yes’ to everything is not gonna do any good.”
Instead, it just made him feel totally overwhelmed.
I know a lot of you out there can relate to taking on too many responsibilities.
“You always feel overwhelmed when you’re trying to achieve all the stuff that you say ‘yes’ to.”
Tuvi knew something needed to change, but he just didn’t know how to develop what he was missing. Living his life by making choices through listing pros and cons had never worked for him, and often left him feeling stuck, sometimes for days or even weeks. And to avoid feeling stuck, he made decisions impulsively.
Where To Start?
Tuvi began looking for anything that could help him. He found the Living Beyond ADHD podcast and it lit a spark in him. When he discovered the “Decision Making Made Easy” MasterClass, he was all in. Or so he thought. Reflecting back on that time, he says he never truly committed himself to finishing it. He started and stopped, then got busy with life and work.
It wasn’t his fault. He didn’t know how to stick with it, because there were other skills he had yet to develop, like better time management. After a few more bad decisions, he decided to reach out to me directly for help.
“I listened to her [Dr B’s] podcasts almost everyday…And I started seeing that I needed more help than just taking in the information or researching about ADHD,” Tuvi remembers. “One of the hardest things is that people just don't understand it. And when you look online [for help] you can easily find information, but it's not what you think. Even within the medical realm, they treat ADHD so differently I think. But Dr B has a totally different perspective, probably the right perspective, and the right pathway to actually help anyone, even me, to get to another level in my work and life.”
So how is life different today for Tuvi than when he enrolled in ADDventures In Achievement?
Before, Tuvi was overcommitted, overwhelmed and never satisfied with his work. He felt like each job he took was the wrong choice, and he literally felt like each one was temporary. With focused coaching and group support and encouragement, Tuvi learned how to say ‘no’ when he needed to. He learned how to manage his work day, seeing for the first time that his own work was only about 3-4 hours per day and the rest was stuff he previously (and codependently) did for other people.
Ask For Help
One of Tuvi’s biggest struggles was asking for help. Growing up in an environment where struggling and needing help was a sign of weakness, he was taught that asking for help was shameful.
“I used to always get stuck. And the best thing that Dr B has told me is, after 10 minutes, if you get stalled, ask for help,” Tuvi said.
“I used to keep things to myself a lot and I didn’t ask for help. I kept thinking I could do it... But asking for help is no big deal. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
And because Tuvi learned to ask for help, he was able to learn how to say ‘no’ at his former job, giving him a completely new perspective about his work life and what he values most for his work. For Tuvi, it’s integrity, working in a team environment with no politics, and employee recognition.
By committing himself to following the methodology of ADDventures In Achievement, and by relying on the support of the others in the program, Tuvi discovered his own core values, which has given him the confidence to make several important decisions in his life.
When Tuvi realized that the politics at his old job were butting up against his values and that the situation was not going to change, he began to consider whether he was ready for a new work environment.
The Importance of Community
The AIA-FS curriculum covers training in 13 key Executive Function skills and students attend live group coaching every other week to help them process and implement what they’re learning. But AIA-FS is much more than that. It’s also a supportive and safe community of like-minded Achievers, who come from all walks of life. Each brings something unique to the table.
“The community helped me tremendously…I was struggling with applying for jobs at a level that I wanted. I didn't know what to do,” shared Tuvi. “So, I posted my resume in the forum and received a lot of key comments from another member. And after I followed her help [on what to improve], literally, my phone went off the roof…”
Tuvi was in one country applying for jobs in a different country for a senior role in his industry. No small feat.
He also endured a two-month waiting notice due to COVID-19.
It was a stressful time to change jobs with all the uncertainty, but he kept corresponding within the AIA-FS community for the advice and assistance that he needed, as well as letting me coach him on strategies for the skills of Initiating, Organizing & Prioritizing, and Task Monitoring. When there was a gap in communication, I would gently nudge him for a follow up, which helped him to keep his momentum.
“Dr B always…encouraged us to be part of that [forum] community. It's there for a reason. And everyone has the same types of issues. And the comments and feedback all interrelate from each others’ personal experiences,” says Tuvi. “And it's encouraging to know that we're not there alone… you're going through life and changes all together. And I felt that. I got help from Dr B and the group to help with my resume, to know how to answer interview questions, what values and criteria I wanted for my job.”
Building Your EF Skills is Worth It
Tuvi is flourishing today in his new job. He’s using the skills he learned in AIA to successfully manage his workload, develop a healthy work-life balance and create confidence around all his decision-making.
“It takes time to build these skills in your life. Dr B knows every single detail of what everyone goes through, and how it relates to your personal life and everything else. I just think it's just unbelievable. And working with her and the community has just changed my life completely.”
Tuvi is now a digital marketing lead, heading up a leading healthcare brand. Out of his many job offers, he selected this particular position because it “ticked off” a lot of boxes for his personal values and criteria, including the information he knew he’d learn for the sake of his mom’s health and the procedures she will be facing in her future.
This new venture is opening his eyes to how he can help others. He said he wouldn’t be tempted by any other offers if they came his way, even for more money, because he knows he made the right decision.
*Due to the high-profile nature of Tuvi's job and to respect his privacy, we have changed his name for this blog article.