Many people reading this might struggle with finding ways to improve ADHD and decision-making in their lives. Especially for parents of children with ADHD, many understand that ADHD symptoms sometimes lead to poor decisions. While that connection might be obvious, what isn’t so obvious is how to make better decisions.
In this post, we want to help you both better diagnose what causes poor decision-making and provide you with strategies to help make better decisions. We want to get to the root of ADHD and decision-making and provide a clear route toward improving your future choices. We’ll look first at the issues surrounding ADHD and decision-making and then get into tips for starting to make it better.
ADHD and Decision-Making: What’s The Issue?
We might see that there exists a connection between ADHD and decision-making, but do we necessary understand the real issue at hand? Many parents look at their children with ADHD, and just shake their head wondering what their child could possibly be thinking. Just looking at the actions by themselves, the processes behind the actions aren’t always clear. The actions and decisions might simply seem random.
Why this might be the initial appearance, few things are truly random. In fact, when it comes to ADHD and decision-making, we have some common issues we can look at. Let’s look at each of these potential issues in turn.
Most likely the first thing people think of for why ADHD and decision-making don’t function well together is because of impulsive actions. Most everyone closely associates ADHD symptoms with impulse decisions so this becomes a natural connection.
Poor decision-making with people with ADHD can be traced back to impulsive actions a lot of the time. Something occurs or a decision has to be made, and the person with ADHD tends to just act without taking time to weigh out the possibilities.
Mind you, this doesn’t always happen. After all, there are different types and expressions of ADHD. Not all people with ADHD tend toward acting impulsively with some people actually tending towards inward reflection and quiet.
Nonetheless, impulsive actions provide significant issues for making well thought out decisions for people with ADHD. Many times, decisions need more than just an instinctual response. They need careful thought and reflection.
The impulsive nature of some with ADHD may make decision-making difficult, although not impossible. Though impulsive actions can present challenges, anyone can still work to overcome them with patience and practice. Anyone can work to learn better impulse control using different strategies.
Acting on Emotions
Having a close connection with impulsive actions, ADHD and decision-making can also be a challenge because of acting on emotions. Many times people with ADHD struggle with their emotions. They sometimes don’t understand why they feel a particular way, or they don’t understand how to process emotions well. Additionally, some people with ADHD have mood swings, where they shift dramatically from one mood to another without much warning.
Since emotions can change so quickly for some with ADHD, they also tend to act on emotions faster than others. This drive to react to what they feel sometimes can complicate decision-making. For instance, instead of thinking through a situation rationally, they will encounter an issue and make a choice based on how they instinctively feel. As a result, many times they react to a situation as opposed to reasoning through a decision.
On some level, we all understand acting on emotions. We have all gotten upset or become angry in the heat of the moment and made an action that we possibly regretted later. People with ADHD simply tend to have more of these instances than some others. Part of learning to manage ADHD and decision-making involves learning to keep your emotions in check.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, for some individuals, ADHD and decision-making presents problems not because of impulsive actions but because of procrastination. Procrastination usually comes into play with more important decisions. When faced with an important decision with possible significant repercussions, some people with ADHD as with some people in general, will simply put off making a decision as long as possible.
Perhaps they don’t know how they feel about a situation, or they have a fear of making the wrong decision. Additionally, many people who may procrastinate on making a decision might do so because they feel overwhelmed. For people with ADHD, they sometimes get overwhelmed easily and on a regular basis. Since they may have difficulty organizing thoughts or focusing on one task, they get overwhelmed by everything going on. In response to feeling overwhelmed then, the person simply procrastinates on taking any action.
Procrastination can be easy to get into and hard to get out of. Again, though, even when it comes to ADHD and decision-making, procrastination doesn’t necessarily have to win out. With time and effort, you can learn to stop procrastinating on a regular basis.
Finally, ADHD and decision-making can present issues due to constant distractions. People with ADHD usually struggle to stay focused on one task or one thing they need to get done. As a result, even if they don’t intend to, they can’t make a decision or make a poor decision because they get distracted and then overwhelmed or stressed out.
Many decisions involve multiple variables that need to be considered. Most people can eliminate distractions and focus on a topic long enough to make a decision. Some individuals with ADHD, though, can’t organize their thoughts as efficiently.
While they may gain focus at isolated times, sometimes they simply can’t find the focus when they need it to make decisions clearly. They approach a decision meaning to consider it rationally, but distractions keep interrupting their process.
As a result, distractions contribute to making a poor decision or no decision at all. To fight this, people with ADHD need to learn more strategies to fight against distractions. They need to have on hand several tools to turn to in order to cut out distractions when they really need to focus on a decision.
ADHD and Decision-Making: What’s the Solution?
Now that we understand a little bit more about the connection between ADHD and decision-making, we now should unpack ways to making decision-making better. As we mentioned several times above, while several things factor into poor decision-making, none of them can’t be overcome. Many times, you simply need to find the right strategy to match with the right cause of poor decision-making.
We now have a number of different possible strategies to take with ADHD and decision-making. While not all of these will work for every situation, some of them might just work for you. Read on to get some more tools to help improve your decision-making today.
Clearly Identify the Problem or Decision
The first step towards improving ADHD and decision-making involves clearly identifying the problem at hand. Sometimes you make a poor decision or can’t make a decision at all because you really don’t understand what decision is required. People with ADHD can find this problem more amplified, again due to their inability to focus. When they face a decision or issue, they can’t focus on the issues involved, and so they might not really know the decision to be made.
Let’s face it; we all understand that you most likely will make a poor decision if you don’t understand the problem to begin with. If you feel you fall into this category, what you need to do is get to start with clearly identifying the decision to be made.
To get to the problem at hand, you can ask someone else to help you understand the decision and its implications. Additionally, you could write down the problem so that your mind processes the decision in a different way. Furthermore, you can step away from the decision or wait overnight to continue to think it through before making a choice.
Ultimately, you rarely want to rush into any decision. To stop yourself from jumping too quickly to a poor decision, you need to make certain that you really understand the problem at hand. Think this through, and really decide if you understand the issue. If you don’t, make sure to give yourself more time to figure it out before moving forward.
Make a Pros and Cons List
A good way for improving your ADHD and decision-making involves making a pros and cons list. This step is beneficial for anyone making a decision, and it can also help with even identifying the initial problem. If you don’t know if you understand the implications of the decision, the best way to get to those implications is through creating a pros and cons list.
When creating a pros and cons list, you need to think of the immediate results of your decision and any future results. Think about how this decision will affect you today, this week, and this year, and beyond if necessary. Try to come up with at least 3 positives and 3 negatives for each decision.
This might not always be possible, but you should try to aim for those numbers at a minimum. If you have trouble coming up with three each, take some more time to think it through. You might not be considering all factors if you can’t come up with three.
After you have your list of pros and cons, really consider whether your decision would help or hurt more. Add points to the pros and cons if helpful. Evaluate the seriousness of each benefit or negative. After weighing each item, you should have a better idea of what direction to move in. If you still find yourself stuck, ask a close mentor or friend to also come up with a pros and cons list to help you move forward.
Keep Track of Good Decisions and How You Made Them
Finally, in order to help improve your ADHD and decision-making over time you should keep track of all the good decisions you make. Part of the reason many people struggle with decision-making is that they believe they always make poor decisions. This belief makes a person less confident in themselves and hampers their ability to make beneficial decisions in the future.
To combat your low impressions of your own decision-making, you need to keep a list of good decisions you have made. No matter how bad you might think you are at decision-making, almost everyone has made good decisions in life. Whether those decisions include choosing your favorite restaurant or marrying your spouse, we all have some good decisions we’ve made.
When faced with new decisions in the future, you need to remind yourself of the times you have made good decisions in the past. Look back on those decisions and reflect on how you made them. Did you slow down and consider the consequences first? Did you create a list of pros and cons?
Reflect on your good decisions and what led you to make them. Then consider how you can use those strategies in future decision-making opportunities. Using your prior experiences as a template, you can help improve your ADHD and decision making over time.
Improving ADHD and Decision Making Starts with Identifying the Problems
If you find yourself facing issues with ADHD and decision-making, you don’t have to lose heart. Decision-making might initially be challenging for people with ADHD. Most people in general don’t like making especially large or important decisions. Some decisions come with stress and can make you doubt yourself or feel inadequate. While these feelings impact most people, for people with ADHD they might just feel them strong than others.
For people with ADHD, though, they don’t have to give up when faced with these feelings. You also don’t have to act indecisively. Anyone can learn to make better decisions on a regular basis. You just need to know where to start and how to get to where you want to be.
Review the suggestions from this post, and consider which factors impact your decision-making most. Take those factors and compare them with the strategies for moving towards better decisions. When you find a strategy that matches with your particular issue start putting that strategy into practice. You might not find success right away, but with time, effort, and patience, you will more than likely see your decision-making get better and better.