Discover more from Extra Focus • ADHD
First Chapter of “Extra Focus”
In just one week, my book Extra Focus: The Quick Start Guide to Adult ADHD will finally be available for purchase!
Thank you so much for the support and pre-orders already. You have been amazing so far in helping make this book launch a success!
I’ll be honest—part of me feels guilty about talking about my upcoming book so much in the newsletter for the past few weeks.
But I know this launch isn’t even really about me. It’s about helping the person I was, before I knew about ADHD. Reaching people that related to one too many ADHD memes... For the people that grew up feeling weird and different and alone. To bring all those people hope and to be a guide to help them better understand their own brain.
I know this book is going to make a huge impact and change lives, and I am just so excited to get it out into the world!
Early readers are already sharing how it’s making an impact for them:
I’m loving the book and the way it’s written! It’s also helping me think of so many ways to improve my coaching since a lot of my clients have ADHD!
I laughed, I cried, and I discussed with my kids to learn that [some of them] also likely have ADHD. I've been so focused on learning how to function myself that I didn't think to ask them before but now we can work together.
Dude. I’m loving your book so far. Your analogy regarding the momentum of motivation and a train is 100% accurate.
It is quick, witty, and useful. And, empathic and hopeful!
This book will be life-changing for a lot of people.
I wrote Extra Focus this book to be the guide I wish I’d gotten the first time I realized I might have ADHD.
The book’s introduction actually covers some of my “wait, that’s what ADHD is?” story, and I’m including it as a sneak peek this week so you can get a taste of how the book starts.
When I was thirty-six years old, I found out that I had Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Or, as most people know it, ADHD.
My friend Brian (not his real name) had been diagnosed a few months earlier. Our wives were talking about it one day, and my wife realized his symptoms could have just as easily been describing me.
She suggested I might want to look into it, but I insisted I couldn’t have ADHD. “I have no problem focusing on things I’m interested in,” I said. Because I believed I already knew what ADHD was, I assumed people with ADHD couldn’t focus at all.
Our conversation stayed in the back of my mind, however, and eventually I started doing research on ADHD to find out if I could see in myself what my wife saw. I do love a good investigation.
Pretty quickly, I discovered that people with ADHD have no problem focusing on things they’re interested in. In fact, hyperfocus is a common symptom of ADHD. It’s when you focus so intently on something interesting that you lose track of everything else.
Hmm. That sounded familiar.
I had always thought ADHD was a label for the hyperactive boy who couldn’t sit still or focus for more than two seconds. The kid that chased squirrels and bounced off the walls. But that version of ADHD didn’t sound much like me, so I assumed I couldn’t have it.
As I continued to read about ADHD, though, I kept seeing myself over and over. So many of my “personality quirks” turned out to be extremely common in people with ADHD:
the way I struggled with motivation
the way I constantly started new hobbies, only to abandon them soon after
the way I was always late to everything, no matter how hard I tried
the way new and interesting things constantly distracted me
the way I often forgot small but important details
the way I was extremely sensitive to rejection
the way boredom felt absolutely excruciating
the way my emotions often felt intense and beyond my control
the way I procrastinated on anything that wasn’t immediately gratifying or fun
It turned out I really didn’t have a clue what ADHD was. The more I read, the clearer it became that ADHD was the missing key to unlocking why my brain worked the way it did.
It was the reason every teacher said I was “gifted” but wasn’t reaching my potential, or I was “a joy to have in class” but kept getting in my own way. Or why I had been called lazy, crazy, spacey, stupid, selfish, and other terrible names for a child to hear. Words used by adults and authority figures to describe my behavior, as if the way I acted was a willful act of disobedience.
But those words never rang true for me. They didn’t describe the person I thought I was.
I was often ashamed of the way my brain worked and how my actions never seemed to line up with my intentions. I was also confused. Over the years, the questions “What were you thinking?!” and “What is wrong with you?!” were all too frequently directed my way. And honestly, I didn’t have a great answer.
As a child, I knew I wanted to do good. I wanted friends to like me, I wanted to please my parents and teachers, and I wanted to get good grades.
It was the same as an adult. I wanted to do good work. I wanted coworkers and peers to like me, I wanted to please my parents and those who employed me, and I wanted to create great things and get stuff done.
Sometimes those things would happen! Something unlocked inside me, and I would be extremely productive. I would impress others with a creative or unique approach to solving a problem or accomplish a week’s worth of work on a lone Saturday afternoon.
But more often than not, I would get stuck on a single problem for hours or even days. I would avoid simple tasks, all the while screaming at my brain to “Just do the thing!” Like clockwork, at the end of each day I’d wonder where the time had gone and why so many tasks were still unfinished.
Now I understand I kept running into these difficulties because I have a different type of brain—a brain with ADHD. For a long time, I didn’t know how that brain worked, what motivated it, or why I couldn’t focus on things that were extremely important (even if they were also boring). I didn’t understand why my actions so often went against my own intentions. Why I seemed to work against myself.
Once I was diagnosed with ADHD, I learned so much more about how my brain worked. And the more I learned about it, the more that many of the challenges I’d had in my life seemed to make sense.
It didn’t solve or excuse any of the difficulties I often faced, but it gave me an explanation for why my brain worked the way it did. Why my immediate reactions often got me into trouble. Why “trying harder” didn’t work. Why people said I had “such great potential,” which always seemed just out of reach.
This knowledge allowed me to forgive myself for the areas where I fell short of other people’s standards—and my own. It gave me a new perspective on how my brain worked, pushing me toward a better way to live.
Most importantly, though, it gave me hope. I now knew my brain worked differently than most, which led me to discover proven ways to minimize my challenges and take advantage of my unique strengths. Yes, my life may be different than others’, but it doesn’t need to be any less enriching.
If you’re new to understanding ADHD, this quick start guide will help deepen your base of knowledge and teach you how to thrive with Adult ADHD. If you’re already familiar with the ins and outs of ADHD, it will feel familiar in some ways but will also offer new insights and strategies to help you put your knowledge into practice.
Wherever you’re coming from, it will help you view life with ADHD from a fresh perspective. You’ll learn practical motivation strategies that are crafted to harmonize with your brain. You’ll understand—maybe for the first time—why your brain works the way it does and how to thrive within your circumstances.
Best of all, it will help you live a less stressful, more rewarding life as an adult with ADHD.
Ready to get started? You got this.
(excerpt from Extra Focus, available for preorder now at extrafocusbook.com)
Jesse J. Anderson