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Following Your Intuition: The Ultimate ADHD Coping Strategy

We ADHDers are big on starting projects and not finishing them. That’s why I never pass up the chance to make a New Year’s resolution, even though I’ve only ever stuck to one of them.

This year, rather than adding some healthy habit or imposing some new rule on my life, I’m going to go with something more general: I’m resolving to follow my intuition more.

Over the last year or so, I’ve been in the process of reworking all the coping strategies I developed in school to fit my new life post-graduation. I also started writing this blog in November. As a result of both these things, I’ve been reflecting on what coping strategies have and haven’t worked for me in the past.

Following Your Intuition as an ADHD Coping Strategy
“Which direction am I going? Does anyone have a map?”

What I’ve realized is that following your intuition is sort of the granddaddy of all coping strategies. Your intuition is the only ADHD coping tool you’re born with.

Many of the ADHD coping techniques that have let me live my life I developed before I even knew I had ADHD. So my thought process wasn’t “hmm, I struggle with paying attention and staying organized, what should I do about this?” Rather, I just gravitated towards ways of doing things that felt right, even if they were different than what I was supposed to be doing, what conventional wisdom told me to do or what other people were doing.

For example, I’ve talked about how music is an important part of my treatment plan. But when I started using music as an ADHD treatment tool, I didn’t know that’s what I was doing – I just knew that I liked music and felt like it was easier to do work with background music. Similarly, I came up with my strategies for getting through college a little later, but I still adopted them mostly because they felt like the best way of doing things.

Earlier this year, I had the option of starting graduate school. It was the logical next step towards my long-term career goals, and I enjoy the field I would’ve gone to school for, so it seemed like a straightforward decision.

However, I ended up deciding to pass on grad school and instead try to build up a full-time writing business in the short-term with no definite long-term plan after that. Even though I could’ve articulated plenty of sensible reasons for going to grad school, my gut said not to, and I’m glad I went with my gut – I think it was the right decision for me as a person.

Things might have been different if ADHD weren’t in the picture, but I don’t think I was ready to go back to trying to manage ADHD in an academic environment, and I think I understood that on an intuitive level even if I wasn’t ready to say it out loud at the time. Sometimes your intuition is the part of you that understands your ADHD the best because it doesn’t care about “should’ve”, “would’ve” or “could’ve”.

So in some ways this will be an easy resolution to follow because I’m already prone to following my intuition somewhat, but in 2016 I’m going to give myself permission to go with my gut more, even if there’s another part of my brain screaming “what the hell are you doing?” like there was when I didn’t go to grad school. In the end, medical professionals and self-help books and ADHD coaches and so on can all give you invaluable ideas on ways to live a better life with ADHD, but your intuition is the best compass you have as far as what’s going to actually work.

I’ve written in the past about how life as an ADHD millennial is a constant tug-of-war between hope and doubt. Well, my (technically incorrect) definition of following your gut is that when you have two options, you go with whatever option give you more hope. This is my way of trying to give the upper hand to hope over doubt in the coming year.

Here’s to a happy, hopeful and intuitive 2016!

Following Your Intuition: The Ultimate ADHD Coping Strategy

Neil Petersen

Neil Petersen writes regularly on psychology, ADHD and education. In addition to ADHD Millennial, he writes about psychology at Psych Central's AllPsych blog and about ADHD at He can be found on Twitter at @ADaptHD_blog

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APA Reference
Petersen, N. (2015). Following Your Intuition: The Ultimate ADHD Coping Strategy. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 23, 2020, from


Last updated: 30 Dec 2015
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