I'm not a big fan of New Year's Resolutions. Too much pressure! Yet, every year I cave in and resolve to do a better job of staying fully present wherever I am.
It's a resolution that sounds noble, yet is sufficiently vague enough to set myself up for a win whenever possible! I can be sneaky like that….
So, Staying Fully Present
It's a challenge for most people, but can be particularly difficult for parents. When that parent has ADHD and a complex kid or two, things can get quite confusing!
Here's what happens to me: I'll be listening to a detailed description of my son's most recent, completely amazing Minecraft creation, when I suddenly remember I need to run to the store, return an email, finish an article, pay a bill, swap the laundry, etc. At this point, I'm only half listening to what my child is telling me. (I know, hard to believe I could get distracted from Minecraft!)
My mind starts making a list, thinking about what I'm going to write, or who I need to call. In that moment, I have completely lost my connection to my child.
This happens in conversations with my husband, co-workers, friends….more frequently than I care to admit. And, I'm apparently not very skilled at hiding my glazing eyes. People notice that I've checked out; it's embarrassing and guilt-inducing.
Is it Now, or Not Now?
We ADHD'ers tend to function in 2 realities: Now & Not Now.
The ADHD brain sees Not Now (the future) as a fuzzy, far out, time warp.
It's difficult to plan for the future because it's so amorphous.
On the flip side, when we're in The Now, we're either completely engaged in what we're doing, or we're pretending to be fully present when we're not.
Choosing what's important now, or what will be important in the future, feels next to impossible!
There's a Hack for That
Thankfully, a dear friend found a hack for that. She introduced me to author Suzy Welch and her book, 10-10-10. It offers a powerful tool for people who need help making difficult decisions and clarifying their life choices.
Here's how it works:
When weighing potential options or opportunities, ask yourself these 3 questions:
- How will I feel about this choice 10 minutes from now?
- How will I feel about it 10 months from now?
- How about 10 years from now?
Make it 5-5-5
In the spirit of ADHD, I had to modify the 10-10-10 to 5-5-5. Trying to imagine myself 10 years in the future was blowing my wiring. How do people see that far ahead? It freaks me out!
Using the 5-5-5 method has been a game-changer for me.
Recently, I was in The Now, playing on the playground with my kids. I started to drift toward checking email (The Not Now), and I asked myself the 3 questions, and then honestly answered them!
- How will I feel about checking email vs. pushing my son on the swings 10 minutes from now?
- 10 minutes from now, I won't feel at all bad about checking my email instead of pushing my toddler on the swings.
- How will I feel about checking email vs. pushing my son on the swings 10 months from now?
- 10 months from now, my toddler will be a dramatically different person. He may not like the swings any more, or he may not want me to push him. How much difference will it make if I check email now, or in an hour? If work really needs me, someone will text or call!
- 10 years from now?
- 10 years from now….geez. My son will be 12 years old, and he definitely won't be interested in having me push him on the swings! I'm unlikely to remember any of my emails from 10 years ago. But I'll remember hearing my little guy laughing and screaming ‘More! More!' as he swooped back and forth on that cold November day.
Can you guess what I decided to do?
Yup. I made a conscious choice to stay in the moment. At that point, and at all future points, pushing my son on the swings was more important.
Admittedly, I did ‘check out' long enough to run this comparison in my head. But the amount of time lost by this mental analysis is minimal compared to my previous practice of getting in my invisible jet and flying completely away with whatever thought struck me.
Over the years, I've found that the 5-5-5 method works for most opportunities. I've even shortened the time frames to help my kids with their decision making process. Play with it a bit. You might find even more ways to stay engaged in the moment!
So, my New Year's ‘Present' to you (via Suzy Welch and my friend, Lisa) is to put you at choice, and empower you to enjoy what you choose! Happy New Year!