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Rethinking Resolutions: How to set achievable goals with ADHD in mind

Blog Banner for Rethinking resolutions with a new year's resolution list in the background

Understanding the Challenges

One of the most common challenges associated with ADHD is difficulty achieving goals. Difficulty focusing, managing impulsivity, and navigating time make sticking with New Year's Resolutions an absolute nightmare. Yet we keep trying.

Every year when that clock strikes 12, we declare the same types of resolutions and swear it will be different this time. But if you want different results you've got to implement a different method.

Making goals manageable, realistic, and specific to your ADHD needs will be the difference between another unsuccessful resolution and meeting your goals.

Overcoming Overachieving

Set Realistic Goals

Watercolor painting of a man overwhelmed by work

One thing I find time and time again with my ADHD clients is this need to compensate for what we perceive as personal flaws. And we do this by trying to overachieve. We are not realistic about what we can do and the time frame we can do it in.

My rule of thumb is to pick 3 umbrella goals and that is it. I'm not allowed to add to that list.

My 3 goals this year are to be more consistent within my business, to deepen my spirituality, and to learn how to play again.

There are a million other things I would like to accomplish this year but these are the big three that I need to focus on.

I will write these three goals on post-it notes and put them somewhere I can see them. When I move forward and decide on action steps I will make sure they line up with these three goals.

Align Your Goals with Your Values

Values are those things you deem deeply important in your life, and they are not easily swayed. Aligning your goals with those values can ensure those values are meaningful and fulfilling. This will increase the likelihood that you stay motivated, even after the excitement of this new adventure wears off.

Look at it this way.

Let's say that living a long life, so you can watch your grandbabies grow up, is a value of yours.

Now let's also assume your goal, like many on January 1st, is to lose weight.

If your weight loss goal is for the sake of looking good, that goal doesn't have much depth. Of course, we all want to rock bikini bodies but it isn't a particularly strong motivator when you are making direct eye contact with a cookie.

Now let's say you want to lose weight so you lessen your sleep apnea symptoms or to better manage your type 2 diabetes. This goal holds depth, it moves you towards honoring the value of living a long life for your grandchildren.

A watercolor of a woman walking with 3 children

Take some time and really get to know your authentic self. What are your values? Knowing the answer to that question will make accomplishing your goals a much easier feat.

Celebrate Your Success

A watercolor of a woman browsing at a bookstore

One way to maintain motivation around goals is to celebrate accomplishing smaller action steps.

My big umbrella goal of being more consistent in my business is going to need loads of small action steps over this next year. One of those action steps will be to post a new blog every week.

One way to celebrate accomplishing that action step could be to reward myself after successfully doing that for a month. A reward for me would be a long bubble bath. Or a trip to my favorite bookstore.

It can be really hard to celebrate yourself at first. Clients often tell me that they don't want to reward themselves for things they feel like they should already be doing.

But those mini-celebrations line the path to accomplishing your big goals. They provide motivation for when things get tough or, even worse, boring.

Setting Goals

There are a few different ways you can approach setting goals. SMART goals, intentions, and guiding words.


Most of us are familiar with SMART goals, and for good reason. It is a pretty tried and true method for setting goals.

The idea is that you need to make sure your goal is






So if I were to make my weekly blog post a SMART goal I would say,

"I will publish a new blog post every Monday by 12 pm"

This goal is specific, measurable, and time-specific. It is realistic for me to be able to make that deadline and it is relevant to my umbrella goal of being more consistent with my business.

Grab our FREE smart goals planner here


Sometimes, the intensity and restrictions of SMART goals can chafe, especially if you're neurodivergent. In that case one of the next two options might be a better fit for you.

Setting intentions is a much more loosey-goosey approach to New Year's resolutions. There is a lot of flexibility to it.

Simply saying I'm going to publish blog posts more often may be enough. You can get as specific or vague as you want with your intentions, as long as it is moving you forward and you can align your game plan to it.


Perhaps any sort of goal setting or intention is too restricting for you. Theme words can be a great option. This is a tool I tend to use in conjunction with SMART goals.

Setting a theme word is choosing a theme for yourself for the upcoming year. This word will help you reframe your actions, dreams, and attitude.

You can use this tool as a stand-alone option, or as I said, you can use it in conjunction with other goal-setting methods. I use this as a jumping-off point for my annual business plan.

My theme word this year is Alignment.

I want to live my life and run my business in alignment with my values.

Grab your FREE theme word worksheet here

When You "Fail"

Understand that you probably won't succeed at every single action step you try to establish over this next year.

And that is ok.

Use those moments as a learning opportunity.

What got in your way? What can you change to help you succeed next time?

Going back to my Monday blog post goal. Let's say I post the first two Mondays but miss the third and fourth. Rather than feeling defeated and throwing in the towel, I'll take a look at what happened.

Maybe Monday's aren't a good day for me. Maybe Thursdays have a lighter workload and more flexibility. No biggy, I'll just switch my publish day to Thursdays and try again.

Understand that there will be a learning curve to setting goals, be willing to make adjustments, and keep pushing forward.

Professional Support

A man and woman talking in a one on one session

If this sounds like a lot that's okay. Change can be a lot and it can be overwhelming. Thankfully you don't have to do it emptyhanded or alone. There are plenty of resources and support available to you.

Check out my resource section for free digital downloads to support you on your journey.

Supporting adults with ADHD in implementing positive changes in their lives is part of what I do every day. And there are hundreds of other amazing certified coaches out there ready to apply what they know to support you in achieving your goals.

Grab a free consultation with me here to see how we might work together

Or check out ADDA's professional directory to find a coach that might fit your needs

What are your New Year's resolutions? Let us know in the comments below.

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