Updated: November 27th, 2019
The ADHD brain lacks dopamine, which means that the current overarching “system” that makes the world run smoothly is a poor match for people with ADHD. Everything from grade school, to corporate careers, to everyday life is a challenge when you have ADHD.
The environment that we live in was not designed with ADHD in mind (obviously).
I do think that the situation is improving, considering that ADHD awareness is spreading, and the general public is beginning to accept the challenges that ADHD creates.
But at the end of the day, you still have to do something about your situation, if you want to live the best life possible (for you and your family).
So, this article provides you with the following big benefits:
- See the 7 actionable steps that will help you break free from the “matrix” that people with ADHD live in
- Learn how to create a lifestyle that works with your ADHD, rather than against it
- Learn how to develop skills that can’t be outsourced in the future (safeguard your future)
- See how you can use ADHD to your advantage, when possible
Ready, set, go…
1. Turn your life into an adventure
The ADHD brain requires extremely high levels of stimulation and novelty in order for you to feel “normal”.
This is why most people with ADHD seem so restless and uneasy all the time…
Our brains crave stimulation.
This is also the reason why some people with ADHD turn to excessive alcohol consumption, drug abuse, and other destructive life paths.
But, let’s not talk about that right now…
Because, my goal is for you to turn your life into an awesome adventure, so that you can satisfy your ADHD brain’s intense craving for dopamine, and live an extremely fulfilling life that you’ll be happy to look back on.
I have some crazy plans scheduled for next year, and it will be the most adventurous year of my life by far. I’ll have more details on my plans soon.
More importantly, I want you to think about how you can make your life more adventurous, so that you can satisfy your ADHD brain (and be happy).
Here are some ideas that will instantly make your life more adventurous:
- Record a fun video of yourself talking about anything, and upload it to YouTube (I’ll personally do this one too)
- Book an AirBnB in a nearby city this weekend, and enjoy the change of scenery (this will stimulate your ADHD brain)
- Travel to a new state or country
- Take a random road trip (the destination isn’t important)
If you aren’t having fun, and challenging yourself to do awesome stuff in life, then what’s the point of living at all?
Life is really short. So, it’s best to turn your life into an adventure. And, when you have ADHD, you actually have a medical excuse for turning your life into an adventure anyway.
Your brain actually requires high levels of stimulation, remember?
(Having ADHD is like an excuse that allows you to be kind of crazy in life. This is a good thing. Trust me.)
2. Become as physically and mentally healthy as possible
The goal of this article is to help you break free from the overall “system” that hasn’t been very kind to people with ADHD.
So, in order for you to “break free” from anything, you have to be physically, emotionally, and mentally tough.
Luckily, if you’re reading this article right now, then you’re probably interested in becoming the best version of yourself, and living the best life possible with ADHD. This is an awesome sign.
So here’s what you need to do:
Focus on becoming physically healthy first, because physical strength provides you with mental toughness too.
You can try running around your neighborhood for half an hour, doing bodyweight exercises (like push-ups and squats), or even hiring a personal trainer if you need to. Building your body is important for your overall confidence and sense of well-being. The sooner you develop your body, the easier it will be to maintain your physical health.
Once your physical fitness is in check, you can work on developing your mental health. That’s what this website is for.
Developing great mental health requires having good relationships, eating healthy, socializing frequently, and meeting all of your “deficiency needs” and “growth needs” (see Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for reference).
It could take you a number of weeks, months, or even years to master your physical and mental health. But you really shouldn’t worry about how long this takes. Because, it will always be worth taking care of all aspects of your health. Your health is the #1 most valuable asset that you have in life. Please take great care of yourself.
3. Focus on developing your “thinking skills”
Lately, I’ve been spending much more time thinking about the importance of thinking.
I’ve even dedicated entire days to brainstorming a high-level view of my past, present, and future.
(Sunday is my preferred day to do this, since it’s technically my “off” day anyway).
Do you ever think about how accurate your thinking is? Consider how important this skill is for just one moment…
The quality of your thinking influences your health, relationships, career, hobbies, location, and everything else in your life.
So why don’t people spend much time improving their thinking skills?
Life is really short. It only makes sense to think hard about the best decisions that you can make for your life.
If you live near a community college, you can enroll yourself in an entry-level philosophy course. Philosophy was one of the best classes that I took in college. It forced me to really question my own judgment, and view thinking as a skill that can always be improved.
Most importantly, your thinking skills will play a powerful role in your future.
As more and more jobs are automated, people will turn to the thinkers and problem-solvers of the world who are capable of making sound decisions.
So, here are some specific steps that you can take to improve your thinking skills:
- Read philosophical texts like Meditations (as recommended in my article on Books for People with ADHD)
- Actively engage your brain by writing, reading, and thinking (of course, right?)
- Learn the basics of history, science, philosophy, nutrition, finance, and other areas that interest you
- Try some nootropics for ADHD
- Talk with different people as often as possible (even strangers)
Start thinking about how you think, and you’ll probably notice real improvements in multiple areas of your life.
4. Exercise your creative muscle (creativity is the future)
Exercising your creative muscle is in the same realm as developing your thinking skills.
But, creativity is important for a slightly different reason.
Creativity is currency. Creativity is the future. And, creativity is one of the most powerful benefits that comes with having ADHD.
As someone with ADHD, your prefrontal cortex is wired differently. Your brain is biologically different (1). You think differently, and you are different. So embrace your differences, and use them to your advantage when possible.
For example, I originally built this website using a $250 laptop, while I worked out of a public library. I was a flat broke college student. I didn’t have much to show for. But, I knew how to write, and I knew how to use WordPress (barely). Today, the ADHD Boss website is a community that reaches thousands of people every single day.
Here’s the bottom line:
Anyone who is born in America can accomplish close to anything they want.
ADHD is not a limiting factor in today’s amazing era of technology.
But, you do need to be creative.
Creativity and a willingness to work are the only ingredients that you need to achieve success in the modern age.
5. Get a high-level creative role in your current organization
I don’t see a problem with working a traditional corporate career, as long as you genuinely enjoy your job, and you surround yourself with high-quality colleagues.
Contrary to popular belief, there are some excellent jobs for people with ADHD.
For example, if you can find a good technology sales position, then you can work from home, earn six-figures per year, and live an all-around awesome lifestyle.
(Sales positions are great for people with ADHD in general, because working in sales can motivate people with ADHD to seek big, dopamine-inducing rewards like sales commissions. I specifically recommend technology sales because the future is dependent on technology).
But, regardless of your exact job, you should ideally try to get a high-level role within your organization, if possible.
Neuroscientists have shown that success changes the chemistry of your brain, provides you with more dopamine, makes you more focused, and more confident (2).
To put it simply, working the best job that you can find will make you happier, and provide you with a better life.
Therefore, if you can find a way to move up in your current career, this could give you a major advantage in terms of thinking more clearly, lowering your level of stress, and possibly even improving your ADHD symptoms, since you’ll theoretically be producing more dopamine.
6. Create a “side business” for yourself (if necessary)
You don’t want to work a corporate career for the rest of your life?
No problem. Me neither.
If you’re a mental defect like myself, then you’ll probably need to launch a small “side business” to see if you can take a shot at living a self-reliant and addictive entrepreneurial lifestyle.
Starting a side business does not require you to take a large risk. This is a myth that has been perpetuated by Hollywood.
There are plenty of movies that showcase the underdog who drops out of college and “risks it all” to start their own business.
In reality, you should start a side project while you already have a job. This way, you don’t have to risk anything.
Here are some examples of things that anyone with ADHD can do to create a side business today:
- Make handmade crafts and sell them on Etsy.com
- Import items from Aliexpress.com (inexpensive Asian wholesalers) and sell them in your local American city
- Grow some organic vegetables and sell them at your local farmer’s market on the weekends
- Make handmade soap and sell your soap to local retailers (anyone can do this by following some YouTube tutorials)
You have so many opportunities available to you, to where it’s extremely easy for anyone to start a side business.
If you don’t like your job, then I recommend you hop on the “side hustle” bandwagon as soon as possible.
7. Free yourself from social constraints
I don’t drink much alcohol.
I don’t eat much processed food that slows down my brain, and damages my cells.
I purposely do the opposite of most conventional advice that is given to me.
…And I experience amazing results in life (for the most part).
Do you always believe the “hive mind” of your social circle, workplace, or favorite television shows?
If you want to break free from the matrix, then choosing to free yourself from social constraints is one of the best decisions that you can make.
Because, there are thousands of external forces that are constantly trying to influence you:
- Family members
- Pop culture
No one is immune to these influences. Not even myself.
But, there’s a lot that you can do to free yourself from the influences that don’t serve you.
For example, you can…
> Be considerate of the amount of television that you watch
> Eliminate all sources of negativity from your life
> Question your decisions more often (constantly find areas to improve on)
> Just do what you want, because you genuinely want to do it
At the end of the day, you are the only person who can live out your life.
So, please don’t make the mistake of living your life in the way that other people expect you to.
Live life on your terms to the best of your ability. I know this is hard to do. But you have to do it. For your own peace of mind.
By now, you should be equipped with a 7-step plan for breaking free from the matrix, and living life with ADHD on your terms.
As always, please feel free to get creative with these steps, and do what works best for your lifestyle.
Are you on a path to living a “free” lifestyle with ADHD?
Have you already broken free from the “system” that hasn’t treated you well?
Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below, and let me know how your life is progressing. I can’t wait to hear from you.
This is an inspiring article. It helps me focus on a new way of living in discovering I have ADHD.
Enjoy your new life Peggy 🙂 Living this way is really, really fun. Thanks so much for reading the article and giving me your thoughts.
I will be 63 years old this summer and the last 5 years or so have been coming to grips with ADD (without the H), which I am increasingly convinced has damaged my life severely. As a kid I always felt “different,” socially isolated and dreamy. I wasn’t unhappy, just in my own world. I was, and am, very smart but totally oriented away from the social world. I used to joke that I was intellectually advanced and socially retarded.
I recently learned from my mother that I was diagnosed with a “learning disability” when I was 7 years old. I remember going in to see the psychologist and thinking the tests he gave me were fun. My teacher had wondered if I should be kept back a grade but the psychologist thought I could keep up. Problem is, I have no idea what “learning disabilities” were being diagnosed in 1962!
Without going into my whole life story, I started to wonder about ADD in myself after a close friend, who I lived with, told me she thought I had it. I began reading about it and most everything I read felt like it was talking about me. However, I’ve not been officially diagnosed with it. A few years ago I saw a rather high end psychiatrist about depression for which I’ve been taking meds for years. I mentioned to her that I thought I was ADD and asked about medication. She said that ADD meds are overprescribed and she doesn’t prescribe ADD meds unless the person goes through some kind of diagnostic test administered by a specialist. And she said the test is expensive—so I dropped the idea. I wish now I had done it. Have you taken a test like that?
Anyway, I feel I have maybe 20 or more years of potentially productive life ahead of me. I am a talented artist who has never been able to stay focused or accomplish very much. Even though my financial situation is not good, I do have some money in the bank and I’m so desperate I feel I’d be willing to pay the extremely high price for Vyvance if it might do for me what you say it did for you, i.e. give you a lift-off for accomplishment.
Regarding exercise and clean eating, I agree with you completely and am taking baby steps in that direction. However even those require planning and focus to carry off successfully—the very things I’m so challenged in. Handling daily life is about all I can (barely) manage.
Thanks so much for sharing your story Betsy.
Some of the most insightful comments on this blog are from women who are roughly your same age, who are dealing with ADD/ADHD, and attempting to live the best life possible going forward.
Yes, I met with an ADHD specialist while I was in college. She gave me the “test” that you’re referring to.
What exactly are you trying to accomplish Betsy? There’s nothing wrong with being an artist. I’m an artist too.
Vyvanse is a great tool, and it’s never too late to accomplish your goals, but I’m curious about what you’re so interested to achieve.