Thursday, December 27, 2012

Is This The Year You Finally Keep Your New Years Resolution?

Is This the Year You Keep Your New Years Resolution?

I was strolling through a festive mall when I suddenly found myself unable to shake the mantra of Larry the Cable Guy. You know, the “Get Er Done” blue collar comedian.
While the slogan amused me I also realized the power a simple statement can carry in our every day lives. Just “get er done”- simple and to the point.

How often do we struggle to get everything done that we plan or schedule under normal circumstances? Add to this the hectic and often frantic pace that is laid out before us during the holiday season and the more common chant is, “Enough already, I’m done”.

We all move into the New Year with our best intended resolutions for change and growth. Most of us make declarations of change that we believe will improve our health, emotional well-being, financial security, self-esteem and relationships. We are sincere and as I said, well intended. But most of us will certainly not “get er done”. We will set a start date for achieving this improved self and maybe, just maybe, get a portion of “er done”, but it is inevitable that most of us will cease and desist long before we have the goal in sight. 
Too many of us will get distracted, lose interest, feel overwhelmed by having one more thing to do, run out of time or decide that it was really never that important after all.

I say if you are passionate about the goals you set for this coming year there is a greater chance that you will achieve them.  Passion and declaration of intent, unfortunately, are not sufficient to accomplish the mission. Nay, I say. You will surely need:
  • An awareness of how important this goal is and the value of the goal to you
  • A reality check. Is this an attainable goal and am I ready and willing to put forth the effort needed?
  • A plan of action. Identify the necessary steps. Keep them small and manageable. Build in small rewards along the way.
  • Consistent and persistent mindful thought and action towards the goal.
  • Periodic review of progress made or lack of progress. Keep a daily or weekly success log.
  • A target date for attainment of the goal.
  • Support from those who champion your success.
  • Ask for help if you hit a wall or begin to lose momentum.
  • And last but foremost, make it yours. We are seldom successful when we set a goal at the behest of others.  

Before you set a goal make sure it is realistic and attainable. More importantly don’t  
set your sights on something that holds little significance or passion for you. We seldom commit much time and effort to things that hold little value for us. 
When you have a goal that you value and truly believe will enrich your life then I say, “Get Er Done”.
If you aren’t sure you are ready to put forth the effort “Let Er Be”.
Don’t set yourself up to feel bad at the very start of the year and take the steam out of your potential for success.

Don’t just make resolutions, create change that changes you.  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

ADD and the College Student

What Happens when a Student with ADD Goes to College?

Yikes College!  Here I am on my own (finally) in a world filled with new friends, parties, social events, sporting events, non-stop activities and oh yeah major responsibilities like those challenging college classes and those never-ending assignments.

So many distractions and so little time to focus on that “learning stuff.” It’s great being on my own but who is going to make sure I get to class every day and complete my assignments on time? And forget study time. College doesn’t have the same daily structured routine like I had in high school that I hated, but so needed.

I don’t have my parents pushing me to study and focus on my priorities every day. Can I trust myself to make good decisions? Who can I rely on when I start to doubt myself and lose sight of what works for me. Can I survive all of these distractions and manage on my own?

Oh well no time to worry there’s a party down the hall.

ADD and the Challenge of College

I am sure you are aware of the multitude of challenges that college students with ADHD face on a daily basis.

These students often exhibit above average intelligence and great creativity. Unfortunately these attributes are frequently insufficient to assist the student in managing inhibiting traits of ADD such as:
   poor follow-though,
   low frustration tolerance,
   difficulty prioritizing,
   difficulty staying focused,
   low self-esteem,
   anxiety and

Is it any wonder that students with ADD frequently under perform and, even worse, give in to their struggles and give up? 

Too often these students lack awareness of how their traits negatively affect them and how to work effectively to overcome their ADD. They operate on habit and impulse rather than self-awareness, focus and intention. And now they carry the responsibility of structuring their time and days, organizing their work load, managing their impulses and making decisions that will impact their outcomes favorably or unfavorably and many times they are unprepared for this responsibility.

Overcoming ADD and Achieving Success in College and Life: Don’s Story

I had the enjoyable opportunity to coach a student at Columbia College. Don (I call him Don but his mother has never used that name to call him to dinner) is a highly creative, intelligent and artistically gifted student who was underachieving and who feared he was on the verge of failing out of school.

Don struggled with time management, prioritizing, sustaining focus, follow through, self-doubt and anxiety. We met weekly through the semester and focused on techniques to help Don manage his anxiety to afford him sufficient energy to develop a structured routine that he could be intentional and consistent with.

As many students and adult professionals do, Don initially struggled with the idea of a structured routine and frequently fell back into old habits that did not serve him well. Eventually, through repetition and with support and encouragement, Don began to see the benefit of having a routine that he could embrace as his own and one that began to evidence new successes. Don’s ability to manage his time effectively grew through this process and became less of a deficit.

Don‘s routine was developed to allow him to identify priorities and to set daily and weekly goals with deadlines for each priority. He factored in potential roadblocks and distractions and built in proactive plans for managing these roadblocks and distractions.
Don focused on setting realistic expectations that he could meet which afforded him an opportunity to build on his small successes rather than experiencing failure which he often anticipated. We maintained daily accountability check-ins via email to assure that the focus was not lost to distractions and impulse.

Don was an expert on all of his deficits, shortcomings and failures. He could rattle them off in little time. He was quite accomplished in the art of overwhelming himself with a steady stream of negative thinking.  He seldom thought of himself as a competent student, capable of achieving his goals or even performing adequately. Could self-doubt be far behind? I encouraged Don to develop an inventory of past and present accomplishments and suggested that he gather objective information from family and friends that he could use to practice challenging his negative thoughts. 

Don avoided communicating directly with his teachers when he was struggling with a project or assignment. He feared that he would not ask the right questions, hear the answer he was avoiding or show himself to be inadequate. I encouraged Don to gather information that would allow him to know what was expected and how he was performing.

After a number of role playing conversations and some hesitation Don was ready to sally forth. Eventually he learned that he could express his concerns effectively, gather objective information, reduce his anxiety and formulate decisions based on facts rather than fear.

Through his persistence, consistent effort, willingness to develop new habits and greater self-awareness Don’s performance improved, his confidence grew and his self-doubt began to dwindle. I am happy to report that Don recently graduated with honors and is currently focused on developing his own business. 

Don’s experience demonstrates how coaching works and what the positive outcomes can be. ADD is not a pre-determinate of negative outcomes and failure. Coaching often is a significant factor in the development of critical behaviors and activities that leads to success in college and in life.

Jim Sobosan is a success coach who focuses on moving people towards intentional behavior that empowers them to meet the challenges of ADD and excel professionally and personally. For more information or to schedule a complimentary introductory coaching session with Jim, visit

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Live Mindfully And Prosper

     OOPS! There I go again, tumbling down those basement steps. As I lay at the bottom of the stairs looking towards the top where I had begun in an upright position, I wondered. Why do I unintentionally keep doing things that hurt so much?  After some pondering, I realized, the key word to my question was unintentional.
I fell because I wasn't focused on not falling. Neither my thought nor action was intentional. Rather than being mindful of what I was doing at that moment, I let my thoughts race toward, my shirt that needed ironing, being late for work and man's best friend who had yet to be fed. I thought about everything except those feet needing to touch those steps. Had I been mindful of all of the things racing through my head that were distracting me from the goal at hand, I surely would have arrived at my destination safe and sound. When I walk down a flight of stairs I should only be walking down that flight of stairs and nothing more. It is a simple rule with a consistent successful outcome that I often fail to adhere to throughout the race that is my life.
     While the term mindful is ever so popular in our culture today, the concept which has been a mainstay of Buddhist philosophy for hundreds of years is simplistic, but too often unpracticed. How effective and efficient would our efforts be if we made sure to be aware of every behavior, every action and every step in our journey and all that slows us down or stops up completely?  How much more rewarding and satisfying would our lives be if we focused on the purpose of our thoughts, words and deeds and the outcomes desired?
Frequently we race through life immersed in thoughts of something we need to do tomorrow, next week, next month and miss the opportunities that are present in the moment. How often do we set forth on a journey without purpose, clarity or a sense of value?

      I have learned the hard way that being mindful is not about having a full mind. That doesn't take any work or focus at all. I can have a full mind without even being awake. The art of mindfulness is the act of slowing down and becoming aware of the internal and external processes inhabiting our space and mind that impact our behavior, emotions and thoughts at any given moment in time. Mindfulness is a process of observation and heightened awareness that increases our potential for mastery over our behaviors, environment and our life outcomes. Had the chicken been more mindful, it may never have crossed the road and if it had it would surely have crossed it at night or early morning when the traffic was low and its chance for success high. 

     As you consider the concept of mindfulness it is apparent that it offers an opportunity for us to consistently walk down our life’s pathway without stumbling or falling. It renders more rewarding, effective and efficient outcomes. So why don't we utilize this concept more consistently? I believe it is because we become lost on the conveyor belt of life, which carries us so swiftly through our days that, most of the time we have little focus on what we are doing and why we are doing it. Life becomes a habit rather than a choice. The demands upon our time, attention and energy are tremendous and ever growing. The societal norm is based on more and more and faster and faster. This pace does not support an opportunity to observe and focus on what is going on inside and outside of us. It supports doing and reacting to the moment instead of being in the moment. 

     To be mindful we must slow that conveyor belt down, stop it or get off to reflect on what is happening and what we are responding to.  Step off, take a break, relax, take deep breaths, and observe all that is going on around you and within you. Set aside time each day to become aware of your actions, thoughts, distractions and feelings. Ask yourself; are they in sync with my goals, priorities and values? Mindful observation provides clarity and awareness and a greater opportunity for self-actualization, success and a life more in harmony with your personal values and beliefs.

  Practice sitting quietly in a chair for 5-10 minutes and observe all that passes through your mind. Some people find it helpful to picture each thought/feeling floating by on a cloud. Name it and let it go rather than trying to concentrate on distracting and unsettling thoughts or feelings. Observe your body and the sensations going on within it. Observe sounds and sights in the room and become aware of how you respond to them rather than being distracted by them. Remember you are not trying to create any particular sensation, action, thought or feeling. You are merely an observer sitting in a window watching you and the world you live in. Sounds and thoughts will distract you at times. This is normal. As you become aware of your distractions bring yourself back to the exercise. Becoming aware of your distractions is an example of heightened awareness, which is what you are striving for.

This exercise is simple to do and can fuel a more enriching and rewarding life. Take the time to practice your mindful focus on a daily basis. Know what is driving your train. Understand where you are going and why. Learn to identify and master your distractions. Increase your opportunity to choose behaviors that lead to successful outcomes.

Remember! If a chicken talks you into crossing the road with it, know what prompted you to say ok and always, always make sure the chicken goes first.       


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Self Doubt-You Can Conquer It

Self Doubt-You Can Conquer It
When is it good to feel bad about yourself?
Hopefully everyone quickly perceives this as a trick question, because the answer will always be “Never”.  And yet there are times when many adults do feel and believe that they are incompetent, inadequate and question their ability to perform successfully on a day to day basis. 

How do you trust that you can when you are convinced you can’t?

I doubt that the birthing experience is sufficient to create persistent self-doubt and low self-esteem. It takes years of stressful, disappointing and frustrating experiences to acquire habitual feelings of inadequacy.

Persistent underachievement and low self-esteem are traits frequently associated with adults carrying the tag of ADD. Years of inconsistent focus, poor follow-through, impulsive actions, failed efforts/expectations and negative self-judgments will lead the bravest soul into the world of self-doubt and anticipated failure. These chronic patterns will inhibit one’s ability for objective self-appraisal and will certainly impede the enthusiasm and willingness to invest in a task.

I have even witnessed this pattern in a number of professionals whose colleagues would consider them to be quite successful. Despite their numerous successes and status, these professionals frequently measure themselves as being less accomplished than their peers and walk through life feeling inadequate, incompetent and fearing and anticipating failure. Their self-perception and beliefs are often incongruent with their skills and level of accomplishments. It is not unusual for some of these professionals to give up or give in once they begin to question the value of their efforts.

Anticipated failure will dampen the spirits and activities of most competent citizens of this fair planet. How much more energy and enthusiasm would someone experience if they could identify and trust that their skills and assets will lead them to successful outcomes? Altering these destructive patterns of perception and expectation can be a slow   process and yet the rewards can be well worth the time and effort.

The first step is to always challenge yourself to develop a more objective perspective and new habits of thought and action. Doing this typically requires the assistance of someone who has a more objective perspective. Most often that person is a coach, or a counselor. A close friend or family member can offer some objectivity but, often times, is more motivated to make you feel better than to develop greater objectivity and new habits.  

A simple exercise that can be initiated quickly is to begin to journal accomplishments and successes each day. Add in traits and skills that you used that day, actions that you took that you are proud of. Develop the habit of starting the day by identifying one success that you want to have that day and identify how you are going to reach that goal.

Negative thoughts are automatic, persistent and destructive. Rather than thinking about what you failed at, take the time to challenge these thoughts by remaining mindful of what you have achieved and how you accomplished it.   

Monday, February 6, 2012

Occams Razor

Occam’s Razor is a 14th century principle that should still hold true today. In its most basic form it proposes that all things being equal, the simplest explanation/solution is usually the correct one. Aristotle also proposed that "Nature operates in the shortest way possible.
Yet how often do we find ourselves distracted by the complications of our internal and external worlds. Good and simple choices are getting more and more complicated to make as each day goes by. Think about how difficult it is to choose a cell phone, the newest techno-gadget, an automobile, that ideal job the perfect mate or any other of the hundreds of things we believe or are told we must have.
Is it any wonder that many of us become so distracted by our choices and doubts that we seldom or never reach our goals at all?
Keep it simple is an adage that has been passed along for centuries but seldom adhered to.
Setting priorities and goals is something that most of us feel compelled to do are often encouraged to do. How often do we get mired down by all of our lists and  priorities and feel immobilized by the sheer weight of our responsibilities and want to's?
I encourage practicing intentional behavior on a daily basis, which, often leads to successful outcomes and less regret. Intentional behavior is knowing: what you are doing, why you are doing it and most importantly only doing what you intended to do. If you desire a  life less cluttered and more energizing you will need to remember that goal and act on it daily.
Focus on one or two priorities at a time and start with the one that can is most easily achieved and then build on that.
A few successes can enrich the soil and winning habits can bloom . 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Forbes Article Focuses on Professional Women with ADD

I was recently interviewed by Molly Cain, CEO, of for a Forbes article about professional Women with ADD. Among my tips: 
  • Practice intentional behavior
  • Don’t try to solve everything at one time
Read the complete article (I'm quoted on page 3).

Act First, Think Later

Fire-Ready-Aim is a term often used to describe behavior that is impulsive and renders problematic outcomes. 

Reacting hastily without considering potential consequences, difficulty stopping or altering a destructive action once it has been put into motion, blurting out thoughts without forethought of the outcome are some examples of impulsive behavior. Impulsive, unfocused behavior complicates our lives and frequently leads to conflict and/or negative consequences at the professional and personal level.    
Impulsivity is something many of us struggle with at times, some more than others.  
If you find yourself wishing you could be more proactive and less reactive in your thoughts and deeds I would encourage practicing the following simple exercise.
Before taking any action ask yourself these four questions:
  1. What am I doing?
  2. Why am I doing it?
  3. What outcome do I want?
  4. What outcome should I expect?  
Write these questions down and keep them with you. Practice referring to the page until they become automatic thoughts.  

Mastering this technique will go a long way toward harnessing impulsive behavior. Ready-Aim-Fire!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Stop Fretting and Start Doing

Stop Fretting and Start Doing

How good does it have to be? This is a challenge I offer to many of the professionals I work with, who procrastinate and suffer for days and weeks, because they fear their completed projects won’t be perfect.

The fear of failure, disappointment and of disappointing others can be immobilizing and at times destructive for many of us.

In an effort to avoid this emotional discomfort, many professionals will look for something less stressful and less emotionally taxing to attend to. This re-focusing will afford short run relief, but will eventually add to the discomfort as the avoidance will inevitably raise their level of anxiety.

Each day a project or task is avoided leads to another layer of worry and anxiety as deadlines approach and procrastination increases. The beast grows until you fear it will devour you. Eventually you can’t avoid your worry as you ponder over and over the beginning, middle and end of the project that is never quite out of your mind and never quite started. As the deadline approaches you scramble, much the way fighter pilots race to their planes when a red alert is sounded. You muster all of your creative energy and work frenetically late into the wee hours and complete the assignment just as the final bell tolls. You experience a great sense of relief and feel emotionally and physically drained and promise yourself, “Never Again." You swear you will start earlier the next time something is due and complete the assignment with plenty of time to spare. And the cycle of what if and avoiding begins anew.

While this pattern of what if and avoidance can be frustrating, disheartening and destructive at times it does not have to eternally rule your behavior and moods. This pattern can be reshaped with mindful focus and a willingness to adapt new behaviors.   

Here are a few tips to get you started towards procrastinating less and being proactive more.

  •         Build momentum by breaking the task into steps and start with the one that seems the least onerous. Reward yourself at the end of each step. Rewards can be something as simple as a cup of coffee, 10 minutes to read an article that is interesting to you or a trip to the water cooler or as grand as setting a day to do something that is fun for you.
  •         Get a break from the stress by alternating the more and less difficult tasks. 
  •         Set a deadline to begin and a completion date and commit to that deadline by sharing it with someone who will hold you accountable.
  •         Commit some period of time daily to work on the project
  •          Review your progress at the end of the day or week with someone you trust.
  •        Take an inventory of prior consequences endured from efforts to avoid a taxing project and determine if it is worth the same level of suffering.

1.   Be honest with yourself when setting an expectation. Don’t commit to a task if you know it is so difficult or burdensome that you will never even tend to it. You surely will never complete it.
2.   That anxiety is a call to action. It will continue to grow as long as we avoid the situation and will subside as soon as we take control and become active.
3.   Ask yourself, “How good does this have to be to be good enough”?   

I assure the professionals I work with that few things in their lives will ever be perfect, but many things can and will be good enough.

Friday, January 6, 2012

How Long Will You Wait?

Your successes will be defined by the actions you take, not by the actions of others or the fates of the universe.

I hold this truth to be self-evident. How often do you sit in your wishes, your fears and longings waiting for the universe to bring change and good fortune to your doorstep? Many of us will sit for days, weeks, months and even years waiting for a desired life change or some type of emotional or physical relief.
I believe such change and relief only occurs after we take action that is intentional and focused. The power to positively affect your life comes from within, not from outside forces.

Contact Jim today for a complimentary 30-minute success coaching session.

This is the time of year that many of us will set well-intended goals geared towards self-improving, life enhancing change. I’m going to apply for that ideal job I keep thinking about, I’m going to get in better shape, I’m going to improve my health, I’m going to take that class I always wanted to take, I’m going to get better organized, I’m going to stop procrastinating and start doing, I’m going to stop feeling down all of the time, and everyone’s favorite, I’m going to start a diet and lose weight.  Often the mantra is I’m going to start at the beginning of next week or as soon as I-----. Too often we anticipate the arrival of a magical intervention that seldom arrives. I wonder how many of us will still be focused on our desired changes within the next few months.

Waiting to be rescued from inertia only assures the opportunity to continue waiting to be rescued. Success comes from focus, intention and the action that you take on a consistent basis.

If you are going to set a goal or make a resolution this new year let it begin with a commitment to take responsibility for your actions and for your successes.