Adult ADHD: Stop Striving for Perfectionism

On today’s blog, we are talking about the number one tool to stop striving for perfectionism. Being an adult with ADHD can be challenging, so let’s not make our lives any harder trying to be perfect. 

The #1 tool to kick perfectionism to the curb is  called “the minimum baseline.”

For those of us with ADHD, our brains think in very black-and-white terms. Everything is very “all or nothing,” so when we set goals for ourselves, it’s very easy to make them too idealistic. 

For many of us, we prefer to meet our goals at 100%.  We want everything to go exactly right, and what I’ve noticed in all my years of coaching is that idealistic values and goals are very unreachable for most people. We basically set ourselves up for failure because we have unrealistic expectations of ourselves. And a lot of that has to do with not considering what “good enough” is when accomplishing a goal. 

As a definition, the minimum baseline means that we only expect ourselves to exert the minimum amount of effort necessary to accomplish a task. 

So instead of expecting ourselves to accomplish something at 100%, we shoot for maybe 80%.

For example, one of my clients was struggling with waking up and getting to work on time. In her mind, she wanted to wake up an hour and a half before work, so she could do her ideal morning routine. But instead of waking up, she was pressing snooze over and over until she was actually late for work.  

She expected herself to accomplish this goal at 100%, and because of that, she felt overwhelmed and avoided waking up. So the first thing we talked about was meeting the minimum baseline for this goal. She started to wake up 40min before work because that is the minimum amount of time she needed to get to work on time.  Shooting for the minimum rather than the ideal helped her overcome the resistance to meeting her goal.

This is a very common experience for people with ADHD. So many of us are always shooting for the ideal rather than the minimum amount necessary to make us successful.

If your goal is to make it to work on time and it takes you 40 minutes to get there, all you have to do is wake up 40 minutes before your work starts.  Sometimes we have to make our goals manageable before we can make them more ambitious, or we don’t get overwhelmed.

So let’s say you’re someone aspires to work out. Instead of setting a goal to go to the gym 5 days a week, set a minimum baseline goal of something you know you can do super easily — like one workout a week or walking outside your home for 10min a day. 

The idea is to create a minimum baseline goal that you can totally be successful at. Sometimes that means breaking down your big goals into much smaller parts. If you’re having trouble sticking to one of your goals, that probably means your minimum baseline is too big and you need to break it down.

The key takeaway of the minimum baseline rule is to focus on what is doable. Break down each task into something you can successfully accomplish, then expand your goals from there when you are ready. 

If we are going to meet our goals and thrive as adults with ADHD, we need to do things in a way that works for our individual brains. The main things to keep in mind are:

  1. Shoot for the minimum baseline
  2. Be kind to yourself, and
  3. Let go of perfectionism  

It has worked for me and for so many of my clients. Try it and you’ll see it’ll work for you too!

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