More thoughts on ADHD and decision making

I have this weird analogy that I’ve always used to explain decision making. Imagine you’re on a river floating down in a raft. On one side is a sheer cliff. You’re not going that way. On the other side is the jungle. It may be dangerous. It may be your salvation. And then there’s the river. Better things could lie ahead. Or you could be headed straight for a waterfall.

I imagine most people who are reading this blog wouldn’t have much of a frame of reference for deciding whether or not the jungle is a good idea or whether or not the river is going to turn into white water and smash you on the rocks. So in that sense, maybe this isn’t the best analogy. But let’s assume that you have some jungle and River experience. You’re going to have all sorts of information from the world about that jungle and about that River. And you’re going to need to make a decision about what to do.

And you’re going to have three choices. You can intrepidly March into that jungle with your machete and cut a swath to… Maybe something better? Or you can grab a paddle and head down that River in search of your salvation, whatever that looks like to you. But there’s always a third choice. And that third choice is to do nothing.

in this case, that third choice looks a lot like the second choice. Because both of them have you going down that River. (Fyi, I don’t know why voice recognition keeps capitalizing River. I’m going to choose not to care about it and move on with my life.) The difference is when you do nothing you have abdicated your choice. And when you approach that waterfall and realize there’s nothing you can do and you’re about to die and you realize I should have made a decision, that’s going to be a horrible last thing to think to yourself.

but if you gather all the available evidence and you honestly think that going down the river is your best chance of survival you’re going to feel very differently about yourself when you hit that waterfall. It’s still going to suck. But you’re not going to feel like you missed an opportunity, like you screwed up again, like this was the last in a long chain of epic disasters. It’s just a human mistake. In this case, maybe the last one. But we all make mistakes. It takes courage to make mistakes. It doesn’t take a lot of courage to float down a river and do nothing.

failure, mistakes, and even the occasional metaphorical waterfall are all part of the learning process. We’re not going to get very far without making decisions and at least trying to do what we think is best. So I say make a choice, river or jungle. Live with the consequences. But learn from them. And then next time you’ll make a better choice. If you do that with each iteration, you’ll be a decision-making Master before you know it.