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Address Your ADHD Decision-Making Challenges

-Tony Robbins

The Gift of Choice

Executive functioning has a profound impact on our ability to make good choices. Before diving into the relationship between executive skills and our decisions, let’s look at the importance of choice, as illustrated by Steve McClatchy.


September 16th was Steve McClatchy’s happiest day of the year. As one of twelve children, this date, his birthday, was when he got to pick what his mother would make the family for dinner. It felt wonderful to be able to make that decision.


His clever mother allowed her children a different choice on the other 364 days of the year. Whenever the children didn’t like the dinner, they could eat cereal instead. From this, Steve learned the freedom and the thrill of having the ability to choose.


Steve’s book, Decide: Work Smarter, Reduce Your Stress and Lead by Example, begins with his birthday story. His book and his company, Alleer Training and Consulting, show people how to manage time by paying attention to their decisions.

Cartoon - Two women standing near a natural foods co-op and a hot dog cart.
Life, like lunch, is full of difficult choices.

ADHD and Executive Functioning Influences on Decision-Making

Emotional Control

What we feel and think impacts outcomes.  Our emotions affect our thoughts, and our “thoughts become things,” as renowned speaker Mike Dooley reminds us. Anxiety, anger, worry, fear, guilt, shame, frustration, and overwhelm can be barriers to achievement. Negative emotions drain our energy and often result in procrastination, avoidance, and settling for less. Monitoring and regulating our emotions enable us to maintain mental clarity and make decisions that align with our aspirations.


Making impulsive choices can wreak havoc on our lives. Impromptu purchases can result in long-lasting debt, while disregarding traffic laws may result in accidents causing physical harm and significant repair costs. Speaking before thinking often strains relationships and causes misunderstandings. The allure of immediate gratification and quick fixes steers us toward convenience or amusement. Approaching decisions with careful consideration paves the way for better choices and outcomes.



The decision to do nothing is to stay stuck and maintain the status quo. Living a default life by avoiding a decision or relinquishing it to others hinders our growth and progress. Sometimes, our stagnation may arise from a need for more information or assistance. At other times, it may be a reflection of our emotional state. Identifying the root cause of what’s causing the inaction can pave the way for a breakthrough. Proactively addressing these issues is crucial for advancement.



Rigidity, characterized by a lack of flexibility, limits our acknowledgment of the benefit of the choices at our disposal. The prospect of change can feel uncomfortable and risky. Tying something out may seem like extra work. With personal interactions, the refusal to adapt poses potential risks by conveying, “It's my way or the highway!”  By letting go of the need for control, you allow a new level of opportunities, experiences, relationships, and growth to flow in your life.


Lack of Prioritization

Effective decision-making necessitates setting priorities. Time is a limited resource. Yet hours can be wasted with excessive social media use, watching television, video gaming, oversleeping, busywork, worrying, gossiping, or hyper-focusing on a narrow area of our lives.  This leaves us little time to contemplate choices that enhance our lives. Prioritizing tasks is crucial for making meaningful decisions and moving us toward our goals.



Inattention has been described as being unaware, ignorant, unmindful, or uninformed. Distraction causes us to act without sufficient information or reflection. This can result in overpromising by saying “yes” without understanding the commitment or missing essential cues from conversations or details in written information. Sometimes, we are oblivious to our emotions, tone, or motivations. These factors impact the quality of our decisions. Knowing this can keep us on track.


Overcome Overwhelm - Prioritize

The abundance of choices can be overwhelming. Rather than navigating on automatic pilot, it helps to bring consciousness to your selections. 


The Life Store

Life coach Haim Ohayon likens our choices to shopping in the Life Store, where you select from many options. This vast marketplace is filled with possibilities like fame, status, money, travel, security, peace, love, adventure, education, friends, popularity, leisure time, success, good looks, power, pleasure, health, family time, purpose, spirituality, a carefree lifestyle, art, nature, pets, comfort, and luxury. Resist the desire to have it all at once. Instead, identify the things that truly matter so you can choose wisely.


In addition to being overwhelmed by choices, there’s a danger of falling into the trap of Shiny Object Syndrome. This pattern leads us to be sidetracked by enticing things, causing us to neglect what we already have or the path we are already on. Shiny Object Syndrome can hinder your progress, whether it’s the allure of the latest device, flip-flopping from one strategy to a new one, or jumping from one relationship to another. Instead, resist the temptation to buy into quick fixes and novelties. Value what you already possess.


The Thrift Shop

Matthew Ramos uses a thrift shop to explain life’s choices. He suggests that we sift through the items carefully, checking out the quality and usefulness of each one. Take the time to look for things that interest you. Shop with an open mind. Think about what you choose and how it fits in with what you want. Appraise and pick only those pieces that are meaningful to you. Invest your time, energy, and money in things, people, and experiences that matter to you.


The Top Five

It’s been said that Warren Buffet advised his pilot to create a list of twenty-five goals and circle the five most essential items. Concentrating on the most significant ones, the pilot wouldn’t be distracted by the rest of the list. Prioritizing is essential.

Word splash - Decisions in large text. Smaller fon - to do list, agent, dailiy goals, emails, personal, work, weekend, meetings, schedule, prioritized

Tips to Address Decision-Making Challenges for Those with ADHD

We improve the quality of our decisions when we use our executive functioning skills.

·      Control your emotions to be clear about which decisions support your goals.

·      Be thoughtful and cautious rather than impulsive.

·      Take action when given an opportunity instead of avoiding or procrastinating.

·      Be open-minded and willing to try something new. Take a step out of your comfort zone.

·      Give your attention to your environment, people, and events so you can manage your life.

·      Plan, decide, and act.

·      Stay focused and move step-by-step toward the outcome you want.

Meet the decision-making challenges by streamlining your choices and taking consistent action to achieve your goals. Then, look forward to the impact your decisions bring. Imagine looking back at the end of the year and saying, “I took care of what mattered most!”

To contact me to share your thoughts, ask questions, or discuss this topic, please use this link.


To your success and happiness,

Executive Function/ADHD Coach for Individuals in Their 20s and 30s


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