Why Habits are Better than Willpower.

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A habit is a behavior that you repeat until you can do it automatically without any conscious thought.

Many people with ADHD resist creating new habits because they fear their lives will lack spontaneity and become boring. However, rather than stifle you, habits make it easy for you to perform tasks, even the ones you usually procrastinate over.

2 Reasons Habits are an Asset When You Have ADHD

1) Habits replace the need for self-control.

This is a huge benefit when you are living with ADHD. In his book ‘ADHD and the Nature of Self-Control’, Dr. Russel Barkley says the central deficit in people with ADHD is self-control and that attention problems are secondary.  Habits are helpful building blocks in your life. When they are in place you don’t need to rely on willpower or self-control to get things done or lead a healthy life.

2)  Habits remove the need to make decisions.

Making decisions when you have ADHD can be debilitating. Having habits in place limits the number of decisions you have to make each day. For example, if you have a habit to exercise every day for 30 minutes, you don’t need to spend hours deciding whether or not to exercise today.  Your exercise habit takes care of that decision, which frees your mind to think of other things.


Habits allow you to design your life. They allow you to do the activities (big or small) that improve your quality of life.

This in turns gives your confidence and self-esteem a boost.


How to develop a good habit

What new habit would you like to have? You could pick a current behavior that is causing you problems, such as  constantly losing your keys  or never having clean clothes. Or you could select an activity that you know would help your ADHD, but you never seem to find time for, like taking vitamins or exercising regularly.

1) Identify what your new habit is 

When you have clearly identified what your new habit is, it is easier to achieve it.  For example, “I will make my bed every day,”  or ”I will put my keys on the key hook every time I come home.”

2) Create an environment for success

Sometimes we need to make some changes to help support our new habit. For example, if your new habit is to hang your clothes up rather than leave them on the floor by your bed, donate some old clothes to create room in your wardrobe.

3)  Reward yourself

Adults with ADHD do very well when there is an immediate reward after they have performed a task. What your reward is will depend on you and your likes and preferences. However, don’t make yourself wait a week for a reward. Do the new habit and then get the reward. When the new activity is automatic you won’t need a reward.


Every day that you perform your new habit, document it somewhere. You could but a star on your kitchen calendar, create a document on your computer, or use an app.

Tracking your progress  reminds you of your success and motivates you to continue.

5) Don’t panic

Sometimes good habits will get broken. If you go on vacation or have a stressful event in your life, good habits can be disrupted. Don’t be alarmed! This is normal. Don’t feel bad about yourself. Just start the habit again.

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