It is a common misconception that people with ADHD should simply “work harder.”
This can be very invalidating to individuals who have a diagnosis of ADHD. Such statements make individuals who suffer from ADHD feel that they are doing something wrong or that their symptoms are a choice, rather than these symptoms being the result of a diagnosis.
Compared to those without the diagnosis of ADHD, individuals with ADHD can have lower job satisfaction; as they can feel easily overwhelmed by tasks, feel confused how to best use time, as well as difficulties self-starting. Impulsivity can contribute to frequent changes in jobs and negative feedback from superiors can further exacerbate feelings of incapability.
In terms of addressing such symptoms it is not a matter of “just working harder.” Rather, these symptoms are the result of impairments in executive functioning. Executive functioning is comprised of the cognitive processes that include working memory, flexible thinking and self-discipline.
Therefore, impairments in executive functioning result in difficulty focusing, prioritizing tasks, organization, and self-motivation/task initiation. Based on this, “working harder” would not be the solution, as these impairments are not the result of “laziness” or “an inability to do work,” rather these symptoms are the result of deficits in executive functioning.
If you are experiencing such symptoms, it does not mean there is no solution.
Therapy can help individuals curate a working environment that sets individuals up for success. This can range from the physical environment itself, with a focus on reducing distractions to acquiring strategies to cope with such impairments.
For example, learning a system that allows an individual to determine tasks that are more or less important. Similarly, setting a schedule or calendar system that provides structure in a way that is not overwhelming. Even having an understanding around the length of time someone can go before feeling distracted, or simply even identifying distractions.
It is possible to learn strategies to cope with symptoms, addressing time management, distractibility, and procrastination. Of additional utility, having an official diagnosis or diagnostic letter can potentially result in workplace accommodations that further allow an employee to be successful. With this is the importance of self-determination.
This means, simply because you have a diagnosis does not mean you have to share it. Rather, if you feel like work is emotionally safe, or want to reveal your diagnosis to have accommodations, than you can share it. The choice is always yours.
Based on this the goal of “working harder” does not make sense. In fact, setting the goal of “working harder,” can contribute to further feelings of low self-esteem, inferiority or incapability. However, it is the goal that is impossible, not an individual’s capability.
The goal shifts to “setting an individual up for success,” curating work environment that is conducive to the individual and learning strategies to mitigate the impact of symptoms.