A Brand New Year – gulp

Resolutions, Goals, Intentions & Planning
(and why we avoid setting them in place)

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Habits, Decisions, Attention Series

Setting Resolutions for the Year?

Yep!  We make ’em, we break ’em – and we feel so crummy about it that some of us even refuse to make ’em anymore.

Eventual disappointment seems lessened if we stop expecting ourselves to do better, doesn’t it?

Scary stuff, intentionality

My friend Wendy, the author of the wonderfully supportive blog, Picnic with Ants, says it quite clearly in the introduction to her December 31st article: The Future is Scary, with a side of Hope.

For context: Wendy has developed multiple physical health challenges with multiple complications she must deal with, along with being a card-carrying member of the Alphabet City club – and has recently returned from Johns Hopkins, which requires some attention to new treatment plans.


“It seems appropriate that I’m writing this on the eve of a new year, what better time to look toward the future?

For me, contemplating the future is more than a little scary…. let’s just say my anxiety about it has been more than I ever thought was possible.

I don’t dwell in the past (all of that is gone)… I don’t worry about the future (that hasn’t been written yet)… I try hard to live in this very moment, because that is all we truly have.

Yes, at times I still have moments when I get upset that I can’t do what I used to, and get upset about what might happen… but I don’t dwell on it.

Then we started making plans… how we are going to try to make things better for me… [It’s now time for] decisions about this unknown future, decisions that I have to make. Suddenly, I HAVE to look at the future. I HAVE to think about it.  And it really scares me.”

We don’t have to be in Wendy’s shoes to relate

Attempting to envision accomplishments and completions a year ahead, especially for those of us whose functional temperature can run the gamut on any given day, is a quite the challenge.

All those pre-frontal cortex-intensive decisions to consider are intense — driving us straight toward the cliffs of task anxiety!

  • We don’t want to slide quickly into overwhelm by biting off more than we can chew! Our self-esteem is at stake here, doncha’ know.
  • Still, we don’t want to woos out on ourselves by setting objectives that are not at least a little bit of a stretch, significant enough that we might expect life to become a bit more rewarding perhaps.
  • But what’s too much and what’s too little?  What’s significant and what’s destined to become just one more nattering item in an already overlong To-Do list that languishes only partially completed on far too many days as it stands NOW?
  • When life has been in a repair deficit condition long enough that we’re not sure if we will ever be able to crawl out onto level ground again — taking a cold honest look at all of the seemingly bazillion contenders for priority focus is enough to shut intentionality down completely, as we make a bee line for wine or chocolate!

As I said in a comment to Wendy’s article above:

Setting intentions for the future IS scary – only those on whom fortune has shined without abating can honestly say otherwise.

Logically and intellectually, of course, we know that we’re doomed if we don’t keep moving forward despite our fears.

HOWEVER, those who fear what might happen can never really understand the feelings of those of us who fear what might happen AGAIN (usually because it HAS happened, again and again and again-again — same tune, different verse)despite our very best efforts, positive thinking and affirmations!

Even though we DO understand that it is nearly impossible to move forward when we’ve lost our faith that things can and will EVER be different, many of us are more than a little reluctant to set ourselves up for failure and disappointment, just in case.

It’s not exactly that we lose hope, when life has been tough on us repeatedly, we tend to become almost afraid to hope (at least I do, anyway).

Don’t forget that you can always check out the sidebar
for a reminder of how links work on this site, they’re subtle ==>

Tries, Trials and Recentering Techniques

So many people fail to appreciate the reality that practicing touted techniques like mindfulness (accepting what IS) and gratitude (for the many, sometimes tiny things we have left that are so easy to overlook or take for granted) does not change the fact that some of us must figure out how to live high quality lives in the face of circumstances that are far more difficult than those in the lives of the neurotypical.

Fortune’s favorites don’t mean to be cruel when they aim their platitudes our way – it’s simply that they have little to no experience of having to deal with items totally out of their control, much less a plethora of same.

  • They really do believe, poor fortunate souls, that if they “think right,” and “eat right” and “do right” that life can’t help but fall right in line with most of their hopes and dreams – and that there must be something wrong with us if our lives don’t work that way.
  • They have no idea of what life can be like for so many of us, and that many of us are already coping amazingly well, despite all — as well or better than they would, no doubt, if their sunny lives suddenly took a rather long, dark detour (not to mention if they had to walk that mile in our shoes).
  • They can’t possibly understand how long their chirpy comments echo – long after they are back to their own success-despite-challenges lives, making finding our way all the more difficult.

But it’s not easy for anyone

As I explained in an earlier article, Sherlocking Task Anxiety:

It is important to understand a fundamental, psychological truth about all human beings, ADD/EFD or not: we are conflicted about growth and change.

At bottom, most of us crave the safety of the known as strongly as we crave the new and exciting, although not in equal measure at all times and about all things.

The process of developmental transformation is one we must all undergo. It consists of making peace with our conflicts, at least to the extent that we are able to change and grow — to continue to evolve into the human beings we were uniquely created to become.

Unconsciously, we yearn to “fulfill our potential” as if potential were a single destination, instead of a moving target, forever out of reach.

On a level just below conscious awareness, we all buy into the mythology that there is a “right” way to do life that will, if we do it right, lay all of life’s goodies at our feet in a nice, neat row.

  • If we are missing a more than a few of those goodies – and that is a list that grows logarithmically with human evolution as well as our own – we begin to second guess ourselves, worrying that we didn’t do it RIGHT.
  • We are surrounded by others who are desperate to prove what they do is “right,” who are more than willing to tell us what we did wrong.
  • Feeling like we might have “blown it” is highly stressful for anyone, and especially so for those of us who seem to step into holes more often than our contemporaries.

And THAT leads to anxiety about our ability to make effective choices in the future.

Bloom where you have been planted

It has become popular in the blogging community to pick some kind of “word of the year” to focus intentionality.

I’m sure it comes as no surprise to anyone who reads this blog that ONE word would never cut it for me.

My own intention for the upcoming year is to do my best to keep the above concept in mind every day.

I’m still figuring out what “bloom” will mean for me in terms of the actions I will take in the upcoming year, but I’m working on planning with more hopefulness than I have felt since the gang mugging that initiated a cascade of unfortunate events that continued throughout 2014.

It has taken me the entire year following to be willing to – tentatively – stick my head out of the foxhole and chance deciding on any next actions at all.

But I plan to bring you along as I attempt to figure it out, so the articles on ADDandSoMuchMore will, no doubt, take a more personal tone than most of the 400-plus informational articles that came before.

They remain available, for those of you who have tuned in recently, or for anyone who wants to go back for any of them.

The easiest way to locate them is to hold your cursor over the menu-item to the right of the bottom bar at the top of every page – LinkLists and Brain Transplants or CLICK HERE for a LinkList of all of the LinkLists to articles in quite a number of Series, where you can jump directly to any you find interesting or read them all in order (the first item in the drop-down list).

YOU are invited, RSVP

I want to invite anyone who is interested to play along as I ponder and plan.  Leave your intentions, successes and struggles in the comments section below the articles to come.

Let’s initiate a dialogue that might propel each of us forward in the upcoming year.

Oh, and little TinkerToy and I want to wish everyone reading
A VERY Happy New Year.

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About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

4 Responses to A Brand New Year – gulp

  1. Pingback: Happy New Year’s Life Upgrades to YOU | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  2. wendy says:

    Thank you for the kind words you said about my post. I’m glad you got it.

    I practice mindfulness a lot, as you know, and I think you understand that I have come to accept my life as it is. There is a quote that says,“Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).” – James Baraz

    That makes it sound like I’ve been living very mindfully….but I’m not now.

    And it all started when I got this choice to make. Yes it has hope, but it also has a huge chance it could cause me some serious problems. (luckily I don’t have to make this decision for a while, but the doctor at John Hopkins really thought I would end up having to kill my balance center in my ears, the wait is really to train my brain to balance more with my eyes and body…but if my brain won’t accept that, I could have worse balance problems. Then I think, so I could be in a wheel chair, so what. I wouldn’t have the vertigo. I would take that as a trade.

    I have been simply afraid that through this search I would lose the self I have become, because I really like her. I don’t have anything against the me before, but I really love this me now.

    As Deepak Chopra said, “Don’t let a day go by without asking who you are…each time you let a new ingredient to enter your awareness.” and I’ve let a lot of new ingredients in this mix.

    My biggest plan for this year. Enjoy more. My other thoughts for the year….Be Gentle With Myself, and just Breathe. The rest that I want, are not resolutions, they are things I want….if I cant’ do it, ok, I just would like for it to happen….I want to try to meditate more, watch less TV, we just found a new apartment yesterday (hopefully we will get it) with that, hope to get out of the house more…it has a more private back yard with easy access, so I can sit out side.

    I’d like to lose a few pounds, yes I know that one is cliche, but really I need to drop a few. Since I’ve found out I have an autoimmune problem, I want to watch even more closely what I put in my body and on it. (I’m pretty careful now, but I’ve gotten slack, time to tighten up. I’ve had way too much sugar lately (I normally only eat a tiny amount of maple syrup and what ever is in a square of dark chocolate and that is only once a week, and I had a CF Diet Coke..oh my gosh! I haven’t one of those in years. So many transgressions, I must atone for. LOL.

    I do want to study the writings of Buddha more, it makes me feel better. and follow the Eight Fold Path better. That’s a hard one. I’m not that good at Right Thought, or Right Speech, I’m often snide about others. I mean really could that nurse have not paid attention that I can not hear? But that is all about being kind to myself.

    You my dear have come from a much more exciting life than I had. You had to give up so much. And I’m not even sure about everything you go through. I know about the mugging, and I will tell you something. I was raped and it took everything I had to leave my apartment for a long time. I could go to work, but I would never leave after dark. I once got caught after dark because I was grocery shopping and didn’t realize it got dark. I was taking my groceries up to my apartment…which was upstairs and the stairs were outside.

    When I came downstairs a little girl came out from around the building around the shrubs. If I would have had a gun, I would have killed her, she scared me that much. That is one big reason I’m for major gun control. I do not believe that a lay person will have the kind of control you need to carry a gun. But I also can’t blame anyone for having one, there have been so many people who have been assaulted. It’s a very hard thing.

    But my point was, we were/are both suffering from PTSD. It was awful to go through that, and what you went through was horrific. During my rape, I never feared for my life. Maybe I should have, but I didn’t. Long story there.

    Now I have PTSD because of the vertigo. Never knowing when it will hit, they describe it like when someone is on the front lines of war, you never know when the shooting will start, but you always know it is coming. You live on edge all the time. Constant Fight or Flee mode.

    Golly, I rambled like crazy, at least when you leave me a comment it all makes sense with the article.

    As you go through your new phase of your blog, going a bit more personal, remember, I’ll be here holding your hand along the way.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Wendy, your comment was PERFECTLY wonderful, and I am typing with tears in my eyes, I am so touched (and newly inspired). Thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to leave your thoughts, and for (as always) being so transparent and open about what you have been through in our “stiff upper lip it” world.

      Yep! PTSD is a b-i-t-c-h! I can’t believe that our country doesn’t dedicate funds for every single returning soldier to get treatment – and that our Armed Services don’t REQUIRE it on return. We certainly find enough money to send them to wars that risk their lives and leave survivors with issues that negatively impact their lives and family relationships. (While we’re funding, how about some family counseling for those who have remained behind!) “They also serve.”

      You may recall that I did a couple of articles on PTSD, back when I first suspected it in myself. I’ll be back to post a link to one that contains a list of items that I resolved to do for myself, just as a reminder for those days when you are climbing the walls (can’t do it from this screen).

      I’ll be holding YOUR hand too! Amazing, isn’t it, that some of the kindest, most supportive people are NOT “fortunes favorites,” but others who reach out to help because they are struggling too – and quite often with challenges more severe than the ones we ourselves are attempting to surmount?

      What’s that song lyric? Something like, “We belong to a mu-tu-al ad-mir-a-tion society . . .” True with us, for SURE!


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