ADD and the Right Work Environment
For the millions of people with ADD/ADHD, a common struggle is finding the right working environment for them. Now let’s face the cold reality of the economic world we live in: it’s not exactly an ideal time to pick and choose the job that is best for our individual needs. Heck, many people are just happy to have a job right now. However, the processes of choosing the right work environment is a lot more important than you think, especially for people with ADD/ADHD.
People who battle ADD/ADHD have some very interesting traits and characteristics. They tend to be comfortable talking in front of groups, displaying confidence, are able to connect easily with others, are good at customer relations, can be very entrepreneurial, and are strong motivators - both of self and others. ADD/ADHD patients are good at problem solving, have high energy (go, go, go), are quick thinking and tend to think big and dream big!!
So with that, can you envision a job that didn’t allow a person with ADD/ADHD to be at least some of those things? It’s kind of like trying to cage a wild animal - and by no means am I comparing an ADDer to a wild animal, it’s just a metaphor. Moving away from the metaphor and into the reality we all live in, a person with ADD/ADHD probably should not be working in a place that offers little mental stimulation, ties them to a desk all day, lacks opportunity to be creative and interact with other people.
Think of it this way: would you ask a family doctor to practice medicine and operate his/her clinic from a bathroom in a gas station? Would you hire a salesperson to do the company accounting?
Bottom line is, the wrong work environment for anyone is toxic. People with ADD/ADHD in a toxic work environment stop performing and shut down. It impacts the thought process, emotions, mood, energy and actually will impact general health.
So how do we avoid taking a job in the wrong work environment and steering clear of that toxic stench? I suggest a good old-fashioned check list. Down the first column, list everything possible that you want in a job. Things like pay, benefits, location, what you need in a boss and everything you can think of that would factor into your decision process. The next column should be titled MUST HAVE, the third column titled FLEXIBLE. When you come across a job opportunity, use this check list to determine exactly what you must have and what you don’t mind giving up. You’ll come to a place that allows you to analyze a job opportunity at a deeper level and help the process of making a better decision for you. For ADDers, this type of structured and organized thought process makes it easier.
One other thing this will accomplish is to help bridge the gap during hard economic times, when good job opportunities are hard to find. When you can determine if a job does or does not meet your needs and allow you to function in a place that best meets your unique ADD/ADHD needs, it can allow you to accept your place in time now. Accepting your place now offers us a healthy mindset, but also motivates us to keep our eyes open for the right opportunity moving forward. Sooner or later, what is right will come along and you will be prepared to harness your ADD/ADHD.
Stay on the right path, keep your goals clear and you will be able to succeed in the sitaution you face.
Jeff wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for ADHD.