You enjoy being a leader and you used to thrive on the demands of your role. But now you don’t feel so successful.
You notice you’re zoning out in meetings, missing key pieces of the discussion, or forgetting salient pieces you want to bring up. Your focus seems to be deserting you. Your memory seems to be weaker. And there are moments when you feel you’ve even lost your ‘self’.
What makes ADHD symptoms feel so much worse after 45?
This stage of life is flooded with high demands and transitions, both at home and in your career. And they’re all happening at the same time.
• You might be despairing the loss of intimacy in your relationship
• Dealing with the loss of your parents
• Worrying about your children
• Yearning for a significant career change that you haven’t yet made
• Hormonal changes
• Ruminating on the larger questions about who you want to be at this stage in your life
All this adds up to a cacophony of demands in front of dwindling resources.
Yes, I’m ready
Of course you want to navigate all these situations confidently!
But the ADHD brain, with its weaker executive functioning, is like a speed boat in choppy waters. It bounces around as if there were no compass aboard.
Your ADHD is not necessarily worse after 40.
But your ADHD feels worse because your symptoms are bumping up against the larger challenges built into this period of life. Over time, without robust strategies, you’ll feel overwhelmed, foggy and discouraged.
You may not be able to solve all the issues in your life at once, but you can show up much more focused.
Your first step in taking charge is to be aware of your thinking and understand how it may be making things worse for you.
When you’re missing the internal mental framework that optimal executive functioning provides, you can’t plan, organize or prioritize your thoughts easily.
Without that framework, including the necessary brakes on your emotional reactions, your brain will chew on reactive thoughts such as, “What if I don’t get there in my career? I hate my current situation. I’m being taken advantage of! There’s too much to do!”
These thoughts are understandable. They’re also reflective of powerlessness. The more bandwidth you give them, the more your executive functioning will take a backseat to emotional thrashing.
If you want to feel more in charge during all the chaos in your life, your first and most important step is to calm yourself before doing anything else. Recognize when you’re ruminating.
Choose to breathe deeply and connect to the present moment. Let go of worrisome thoughts about the future. Really allow yourself to sink into the here and now.
NOW you’re ready to become sharply strategic!
5 Steps To Bring Your Focus Back Online
1. Identify the situations when you feel foggy
- Do your meetings move too quickly?
- Do you tend to feel bored?
- Are you constantly worried you’ll forget the thread of the conversation?
2. Plan ahead for those moments
- The meeting’s moving too quickly?
Try creating your own agenda for the meeting. Choose the items on the agenda that are most meaningful to you. Put your focus on these items, and don’t worry about keeping up with everything.
- Feeling bored?
Identify what makes this meeting meaningful to you. Dig deeply. The more meaningful it is to you, the more likely you’ll stay focused. The meaning you’re looking for goes way beyond the individual items on the agenda. It’s about whatever motivates you. What makes you feel inspired? Who do you want to show up as in these meetings? Focus on that.
- Forgetting what people just said?
Practice listening for the gist of what they’re saying. Write it down on paper if you need to. It’s not the individual words that matter. It’s the body language in the room, the ideas being shared and the main purpose for the meeting. When you focus less on the details and more on the big picture, you’ll find it easier to remember what was actually said.
3. Identify the missing skill
What skill creates the most stress for you? You may be an excellent manager for your company, but you find it difficult to interview potential employees. You’re not sure how to phrase the questions in order to get the answers you’re looking for.
4. Set aside time to learn the skill – before you need to use it!
Now that you know that you find it hard to come up with powerful interview questions on the spot, prepare ahead. Give yourself time to think backwards. What do you most need to know from the prospective employee? What question would elicit this information from them?
Preparing in advance will help you read the room much more effectively. Your focus will be undivided.
5. Identify what else is on your mind
The more you hold in your brain, the less focused you’ll be. Get to know what is actually on your mind all day.
- What else is going on in my life that’s taking up precious mental space?
- What decisions do I need to make?
- Am I holding too much in my head? If yes, where can I store it instead?
How are my organizational systems working?
If you find you’re still at step one wondering how to calm the overwhelm, let me know. You don’t have to do this alone.
With love and gratitude,
Yes, I’m ready