“You must learn a new way to think before you learn a new way to be.”
How long until I will notice changes? When I first meet with clients, this is a common and rational question they ask. Often, when you reach out to a coach, it is because you are in need of change – NOW. Or maybe yesterday. Or even last month or year. The desire to move forward is strong and the ADHD brain, once it decides to do something, wants to do it quickly.
You see, the ADHD brain is an interest based brain. Once interested, it’s ready to roll at high speed. It makes sense that you would like to see immediate change when you are ready for it. Your engine is going and the dopamine is flowing towards improvement of self.
Why then does it take months to really see major shifts in your thinking?
Brain plasticity and rerouting take time – our brain is complex. Think about your current age. Now consider that you have spent all of your years creating the thinking patterns you currently use. As those patterns take shape in your younger years, they become more ingrained over time. Similar to the time it takes for a dirt path to become a road to become a highway.
If your brain were constructed like roads, your core thought patterns would be highways – paved, moving at high speed, and with few bumps.
Those thoughts have been there a long time.
What if you needed to build a new road through a field though? First, you drive across the grass and it mats down. If you drive across it every day, you begin to wear a path. It may turn into a dirt path after a month or so of daily attention. If you skip a week of driving the path, some grass may pop back up.
Consistency of following the new path helps the road develop more quickly. Keep taking that path every day and it may become a gravel road, then a paved road, then a highway.
What if your brain keeps pulling back to your old thoughts? Your brain wants to stay on its current highway; the path that is easy since it has worked long and hard to develop that route. Most of us would much prefer driving on a paved highway rather than trudging on a bumpy, gravel road.
Creating a new road in your brain takes energy, time and consistency.
Do you need perfection? No. Perfect doesn’t exist. Commitment? Yes. Practice creates muscle memory and rerouting. Grace for yourself? Yes. Because you’ll discover some of your new thought patterns are worth taking and fully developing while some will not be. You might lose interest or realize some don’t lead where you originally wanted to go. Or, over this journey of learning about yourself, you might realize you want a different path entirely.
Changing your way of thinking and therefore changing your life takes time. Building new highways in your brain is possible (and worth it) when you commit to rewiring your thoughts. Just keep in mind that your path to who you want to be is a journey, not a jaunt.
I’m an ADHD, executive function and life coach. I’m also a mom, a wife, and a neurodiverse thinker. My brain runs at high speed with ideas bouncing around constantly. I now consider this an asset. Over time, I’ve learned to work with my brain, not against it. Creating strategies and building a “toolbox” of tricks that work for me has helped me find success. It’s possible.