Decision making is not an executive function. Difficulty with decision making is not a symptom of ADHD. So why do so many ADHDers have difficulty making decisions? I think there are a few reasons. But the primary reason is that the actual process of making a decision is the perfect storm of Attention, Working Memory (Executive Function,) Managing Impulsivity, and Managing Anxiety. In short, to make a difficult or complex decision, we need to do all of the things that we stink at.
- Make the commitment to actually make decisions. Decide to decide. Don’t let yourself kick the can down the road. If I’ve learned anything from doing this for over a decade it is that NOTHING GETS BETTER BY PUTTING IT OFF. Occasionally things go away, but even that usually has negative consequences.
- Be intentional about making your decision. Separate the decision from any other related tasks that you have to do and isolate that as its own task.
- Give yourself time and space to make that decision. Do research if you need to, but limit yourself to a specific amount of research so it doesn’t drag on indefinitely.
- Recognize that there is often no perfect solution and no amount of research or thinking can come up with all the answers. Rarely are things 100%. Sometimes 51% has to do.
- Recognize that in many cases, there are more than one right decisions and/or the decision isn’t final or can be changed/fixed at some point down the road.
- Manage any anxiety you may feel with exercise, meditation, and/or self talk, especially if it is a big decision.
- Lastly, make sure you are optimal when you set aside time to make your decision and/or do your research. Be medicated, well slept, not ‘hangry,’ and generally in a good state of mind.