ADHD and Saying Yes – Abigail Wurf, M.Ed, PCC

I was working with one of my clients today and we were talking about something he was struggling to get done. It is a longterm project that has been broken up into sections. One of the goals has been to get the first section done a week from now. He is behind schedule and struggling.

So I said to him, “You will get this done by next week.” He responded, “I will.” Perfectly reasonable answer, even a  positive answer. But I inside I thought “not good enough.” So I said, “Say Yes.” He said “Yes.” He went from worried looking to smiling because it feels better to say “Yes.”

Yes” is  more power than “I will” or “I’ll try.” “Yes” is a commitment, an active commitment. “I will” is kind of passive. I found with my clients and other people I have met affected by ADHD that we are more comfortable with passive responses like “I’ll try” or “I will,” rather than strong affirmative answers such as “Yes, I will.”

Actually, we tend to be the “No” people and not the “Yes” people. I believe that is because we don’t trust ourselves to actually do as we say. It is a reasonable concern for people affected by ADHD. But here is the rub, answering with a passive positive pretty much guarantees for people like us that we will in fact not do whatever we are agreeing to. Whereas an active powerful “Yes” increases the likelihood that we will be successful. Are you seeing the rub?

We are scared because we have failed in the past so we don’t want to fully commit, but not fully committing pretty much guarantees failure once again. But you can’t live your life that way. Start saying “Yes” instead of “No.” Be strong in your affirmatives. Believe in yourself. I realize it is hard but if you don’t no one will.

Say “Yes” and tell other people you have said “yes” because that will ratchet up your sense of accountability which helps in getting things done.


Abigail Wurf, PCC, M.Ed helps professionals, entrepreneurs, and small business owners affected by ADHD and/or Executive function issues achieve success in business and in life. Located in Washington DC, Abigail works with clients in person, over the phone and over the Internet. Her new book, “Forget Perfect: How to Succeed in Your Profession and Personal Life Even if You Have ADHD,” is loaded with tips to help overwhelmed people get things done and be more strategic about how to live their lives. To receive a free consult from Abigail, make a request through the contact form and she will get back to you to schedule.