Discipline is the ability to control behavior. Parents might discipline their children to behave a certain way. Self-discipline is the ability to control your own behavior. The reason why self-discipline is considered so important is because it’s linked to success.
Teachers know students with discipline usually get good grades, bosses know their disciplined employee will do good work. When someone demonstrates behaviors we associate with discipline, they are viewed in a positive light. They are prized in our society.
Unfortunately, it’s common for adults with ADHD to hear that they ‘lack discipline’. When you repeatedly hear comments about your lack of discipline, as a child from your teachers and parents, those external messages become part of how you think about yourself. Later in life, you might hear those same comments from your partner and bosses.
When you have ADHD, it is vital to remember any problems you have with discipline, have absolutely nothing to do with you being ‘lazy’, ‘unmotivated’ or ‘not caring’. It is all related to biology and your brain. This is how you were born! ADHD is a neurological condition. It has nothing to do with your character. Whatsoever!
If you picture a disciplined person, either someone you know, or an ideal in your mind’s eye, these are the typical qualities and behavior of a disciplined person:
- Gets up early
- Has a clear plan for their day, written the night before
- Follows those plans, and doesn’t let external events distract them
- Is an excellent time manager
- Works productively; the word, “procrastination” is not in their vocabulary
- Does tasks even though they don’t feel like it
- Know what their long term goals are
- Daily actions working towards achieving those goals
- Doesn’t waste time; such as playing Tetris online
- Follows through with tasks and projects until they are completely finished
- Are on time for meetings and appointments
- Always do what they say they were going to
- Looks interested in what the person they are talking to is saying
- Is organized and tidy
Now, if we consider the challenges that an adult ADHD has, they struggle with EVERY ONE of those items. It’s not because they are lazy, but because their brain is different at a biological, chemical and functional level. Those differences mean that you behave differently to someone without ADHD.
That doesn’t mean you can’t change your behaviour. You can develop those behaviours that Mr. and Ms. Discipline have. It just means they don’t come naturally to you.
Here is how to develop the behaviours of a disciplined person.
Start treating your ADHD right now! There are 4 prongs of treatment. Head here to learn what they are and how. Giving the brain the foundational pieces it needs to do its best work makes the rest of these suggestions easier implement.
1. Remove any lingering guilt or shame you have from what you have been told about in your past. This is very helpful to help you start feeling good about yourself and believing you can change.
2. Identify an area you would like to become more disciplined in. For example: ‘Arrive to all appointments on time or 5 minutes early’. Work on that first. Once that has become second nature, pick your next target area. Making these changes takes time. Be patient with yourself.
3. Work out what motivates you. When you are motivated, everything is so much easier.
4. Develop habits. Habits take away any need of willpower or motivation. They become your default mode of operation.
5. Use Checklists. They are incredible to help you feel organized and productive. Checklists also help with starting a task and follow through.
6. Learn about sleep and how to wake up when you have ADHD.
7. Learn how to set goals and plan your day the ADHD-friendly way.
8. Try these suggestions to help with passage of time problems.
9. Set your work environment up for maximum productivity
10. Become a master at being on time for every appointment.
11. Celebrate every win!