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Zoë’s Pet Peeves: OMG! Fired. Again.

Zoë's Pet Peeves: OMG! Fired. Again.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:

Step 1

Calm down!

– 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)

Step 2

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

Step 3

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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Zoë’s Pet Peeves: OMG! Fired. Again.

Zoë Kessler, BA, B.Ed.

Zoë Kessler is an award-winning author, journalist, and speaker specializing in women and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD / ADD).

A frequent contributor to ADDitude Magazine, Kessler has also created video, standup comedy, and guest blogs on ADHD and Marriage covering ADHD-related topics.

Zoë, an internationally recognized ADHD expert, has been interviewed on radio and featured in magazine articles, documentaries, and books on the topic of women and ADHD across North America.

Her newly-released memoir ADHD According to Zoë - The Real Deal on relationships, Finding Your Focus & Finding Your Keys (New Harbinger Publications, 2013) about life with ADHD is now available.

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APA Reference
Kessler, Z. (2013). Zoë’s Pet Peeves: OMG! Fired. Again.. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 19, 2019, from


Last updated: 26 May 2013
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