I’ve posted about work before. Let’s face it, as an adult, it’s a big part of one’s life. As an ADHDer, it’s also a big part of one’s pain (for a lot of us, anyway.)
The most common advice ADHD gurus give is: follow your passion. (No, I’m not talking about stalking that cute guy that just moved into your apartment building.)
This week, I got fired. Again. I’d already had 3 strikeouts, the last in my late 20′s (I was an executive secretary. ‘Nuff said.) I truly believed that my ADHD diagnosis and treatment would save me from another dismissal. I was wrong. And ya, it’s kind of embarrassing.
As always, in the hope of saving someone else from a similar misery, I’m going to share what happened. Believe it or not, there’s a happy (or at least, enlightened) ending.
In a nutshell, I procrastinated so long, my (ex-) client found someone else to finish the job. How humiliating!
At first, I felt like a disreputable and despicable human being. I mean, I was Jack the Ripper. I was Satan. I was Hannibal Lecter; hell, I was all of them rolled into one. I felt guiltier than a Catholic at an orgy.
In record time (for me), I figured out that I’m not the anti-Christ: I’m human. I had good intentions. I did my best. Still, I failed. What had happened?
Black and white thinking
Initially, all I could see was that I’d failed. Worse, I’d let someone down and that someone was paying me! I reminded myself that it’s hard for my ADHD mind to see the details, subtleties, and nuances, especially in difficult situations. And even more so when I’m highly emotional, which clearly I was in this situation.
Here’s the process I went through to restore myself from monstrous miscreant to fallible human:
- deep breathing
- reviewing the work I’d already done and reminding myself that I’d done a fantastic job of what I DID complete (which was 2/3 of the project
- acknowledge that I’d left notes on the rest of the project, which would help the person taking over
- remind myself that my fee was reasonable; I could have charged more (I had a hard time charging what I did, and was advised it was fair)
Analyze what happened
- calmly visualize the events in my life since I’d taken on the job
- identify a number of unexpected and/or unavoidable situations that stole time away from the project (visiting my mom out-of-town during her terminal illness; my workplace going into receivership and asking me for more hours because every other staff member bailed; my dream publisher approaching me for a book proposal)
- doing the math and realizing that I was already working 15-hour days, and have been for more than a year and a half, without putting time into this project
- recognizing that I was exhausted and maxed out
Factor in my ADHD traits
- having no clear deadline, procrastination took over
- acute difficulties prioritizing
- problems assessing the project: it was much more complicated and therefore took a lot longer than I’d estimated
- disorganization; I spent hours hunting for materials I hadn’t filed properly (at no charge to the client, of course, but time-consuming none the less)
- my perfectionistic tendencies complicated the job; I wanted to do a million times more than the client had asked for
- unfocused and distracted by conversations with the client; being too friendly, chatty, and personable rather than professional and focused on business (that ‘ol ADHD charm)
- anxiety grew as the days passed and I still hadn’t worked on the project
- self-doubt, lack of confidence added to my anxiety and led to avoidance of the work
- lack of self-awareness – I felt incompetent and lost sight of my true skills and value
- ended up completely overwhelmed by my workload, exacerbated by the situations beyond my control (mom’s illness, etc.) and inability to manage time to make room for finishing the project
- overestimated my abilities and underestimated the effects of my ADHD traits
- NEVER, ever take on work like this again!
- keep the faith and focus my own projects
- if I have to take outside jobs, make sure they’re short-term, simple, and that I’m completely confident I can do them
- take more time to analyze the situation before taking on a job
- make improving organizational skills more of a priority
- continue building self-confidence so that I can charge what I’m worth and not have to do work I don’t want
- caught my self-annihilation and stopped it quickly
- regained perspective through insight and analysis of situation
- recognized valuable lessons
- ended the relationship with client gracefully and professionally, without shame, guilt, or drama
- able to forgive myself and chalk it up to a learning situation and ongoing management of ADHD
- recognized that I acted with the best of intentions, but blew it; and that’s ok
- realize I took a risk on something new, it didn’t work out the way I’d hoped, and that’s ok too
This was a tough experience, but a valuable one. It’s reinforced that for an ADHDer to be happy in her work, she has to follow her bliss. I’m back on the path, still learning.
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Last reviewed: 16 Sep 2011