This week’s Team Call was about Mindset and I had so many lightbulbs clicking in my brain that I’m pretty sure I started glowing. First off, I love this job, I love the people I work with, I love the constant support and encouragement, and I learn something new every time I manage to make it to one of the weekly meetings. Now, my fingers are itching to get this all out on paper…er…computer screen.
My biggest take away had nothing to do with “keeping a positive attitude” or “dream big” or “stay focused” or any other phrases I automatically associate with “mindset”. My takeaway was a kick in the head about how I’ve been treating ADHD.
Stay with me, I have a point. The concept of “fixed vs growing” mindset was presented, and as she read through the differences I was ticking them off with a lazy, yep I’m a grower, I don’t do that, or that, nope, nope, eh, definitely not, no-yeah I do. Wait, what? “A fixed mindset says: I am good at *blank* and I am (and will always be) bad at *blank*.”
Pretty sure my brain lit up like a neon sign at this point. You guys, ADHD can be pretty funny, but it is no joke. This past Saturday I got the boys dressed, we all piled in the car, drove TWENTY MINUTES to the Farmer’s Market and when I hopped out I realized I was in my bedroom slippers. I forgot shoes. As funny as it was, this isn’t completely unusual for me. I forget my wallet, my ID, I lose my phone thirty bazillion times a day, I forget various pieces of clothing, I’ve answered the door without a shirt while nursing (BIG OOPS), I forget things in the oven, I forget to put things IN the oven, I forget doctor’s appointments, I forget important dates, I forget names, I forget what I am talking about mid sentence on a regular basis. Forgetting is a hallmark of ADHD, but the truth is it is the mildest and least annoying of the symptoms for me. The varying between non-existent attention span and hyper focus is irritating, but manageable. The inability to finish tasks or maintain a clean ANYTHING is beyond frustrating. But the struggle with impulse control ESPECIALLY when it comes to emotions is my biggest issue. The cycling between doom and gloom and the world is full of unicorn sparkles that can change in an instant can leave me (and those around me) with chronic emotional whiplash. The truth is, I’ve gotten very good at combating the mood swings and emotional volatility because I simply didn’t want to be that person. I have my bad days…and bad weeks…and months (looking at you, February) but I have an equal amount of good days, weeks, and months and I’ve learned how to capitalize on it. I refused to let ADHD determine that my emotions and impulsiveness would wreak havoc in my life.
BUT. I let ADHD limit me in a lot of areas. I use ADHD as an excuse, not an explanation, and I don’t push past any of those barriers. I set myself up to fail because I tell myself habitually, “You have ADHD, you will NEVER be good at that.” The biggest area of my life, an area that has been holding me back for years, is organization. I’ve pretty much given up on EVER being organized. I have tried and failed too many times, have heard too many disparaging comments, have let others down too frequently-I’ve simply internalized that I will always be woefully messy and entirely dependent on others to manage my affairs. My mindset isn’t just fixed on this, it’s pretty much set in concrete, welded inside a solid titanium cage, driven down into the ground with a mountain on top of it slowly turning it to diamond with the pressure of tremendous, unmovable weight.
That call, that very simple discussion, has caused a mental earthquake. I am ADHD, but I WILL be organized. It may not look exactly like anyone else’s system, but it will function well for me. I am ADHD, but I WILL maintain a clean house. It may not be Better Homes and Gardens, but it doesn’t have to be a chronic disaster either. I know these changes won’t happen overnight. And I know that I will have to work hard to overcome the natural inclinations of my crazy little brain, and I know I will fail multiple times in the process, but I also KNOW that I can do this. Honestly, if I look back at my life I am already far more scheduled and organized now than I have ever been-thanks to the two little munchkins who have forced me to be better than I thought possible. I need to stop telling myself I can’t do something just because I’m ADHD.
This brings me to the second lightbulb moment, which was more of a reflection on our society and less a personal conviction. You guys, we have completely devalued work. Not just devalued, our society has placed a negative value on work. Any dream you have is measured against how hard you have to work to get there, and it isn’t overtly stated but the underlying message is “if the amount of work you have to do is greater than your desire for the end result, then you are ‘in the red’ in any joy you can get out of life.” The end result has to be WORTH the amount of work you put in. End result-amount of work=life satisfaction.
Poop, guys. This is total poop. Now I’ve seen the memes about “it’s all about the journey” but most of those still come with the idea of the “little moments” along the way, the “silver linings”, the “unexpected joys”, the “things that happen that AREN’T WORK that make you happy.” This is backwards.
“There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?” Ecclesiastes 2:24-25 ESV
“…find enjoyment in his toil.” “…find enjoyment IN HIS TOIL.” “…find enjoyment IN his TOIL.” Not, in the camaraderie of your coworkers, or in the gossip around the water cooler, or in the sunny weather on a Friday afternoon, or in a raise, or in a better placed desk, or in the freedom of working at home. In. Your. TOIL. In the actual process of work THERE you should find enjoyment. Work is not a negative value, work is the positive value. It’s not about satisfaction at the end of your journey, or happy events along the path of your journey, it is quite literally the process of taking steps on your journey. Enjoying the physical, mental, and emotional work of WORK is the “best thing” for a person, not the achievement of the goal at the end.
Now, you can’t forget the second half, “for apart from him (God) who can eat or who can have enjoyment?” because it is pretty much stating not just that through God all things are provided, but that enjoyment in work needs divine intervention to occur-it is not the natural state of man. Maybe it is for you, but it definitely is not my natural state.
How this applies to my takeaway about mindset is simple-I shouldn’t be measuring my goals against the amount of work that they’ll take to accomplish. I need to be praying for enjoyment of the work I’ve been given (including the monumental task of organizing myself), and embrace the goals I need to embrace in order to move forward-not in spite of the work required, but BECAUSE of the work required, because in the WORK is my enjoyment.
Mind. Blown. 😛