So, we have arrived at the time of year when there is a collective focus on the future. It does not come naturally to me to feel a connection with the future. I’ve never been particularly great at setting goals, especially long-term goals. And the “vision thing” has also been hard for me to grasp.

Setting goals, planning, connecting with the future – all of these can be challenges for individuals with ADHD. Folks with ADHD live primarily in the “now.” This means long- or even short-term planning can be a challenge, and the concept of a “future self” is hard to grasp.

Over time I’ve become convinced, at least intellectually, that most people accomplish more during the course of their lives if they have goals or destinations in mind. So that’s what I’m trying to achieve as the new year approaches.

Travel metaphors work well for me. These days most of us don’t go on a journey without setting a GPS or at least consulting MapQuest to find the best route. We have a final destination in mind, so we set the GPS for that end point. Any mid-point stops we want to make along the way need to be entered so they are included in the final route. I happen to dislike driving or riding on interstate highways, so that is another factor that my GPS needs to take into account.

It used to be that once we had set our old GPS and begun our travels, we’d hear a voice saying “Recalculating!” when we made a wrong turn. The software corrected our route to adjust for our mistake, but always with the final destination in “mind.” Our new GPS also readjusts but without the loud “Recalculating!” reminder that we veered off course.

If we were relying on the GPS but had never entered a destination, the GPS would simply tell us where we were in the present moment. What else could it do? It would not guide us toward any destination.

Our brains work similarly. Without a goal in mind, we can feel busy, even productive, in the present moment, but we could be just spinning our wheels with no forward movement.

With that in mind, I plan to spend some time this week planning where I want to be this time next year, even envisioning the route and the details of the destination. Then I will fill in the steps I will take to get there, perhaps even planning backwards to identify the milestones to be achieved along the way. It actually feels good to be looking ahead for a change. If this sort of planning would be a new experience for you and you decide to try it, I’d love to hear how it goes!

Happy New Year!

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