Many of us measure success by productivity.
But productivity unfolds as an infinite cycle - our to-do list grows as fast as it shrinks, creating a cycle that, when held as the ultimate goal, leaves an insatiable appetite for more. This relentless pursuit carries its own set of consequences.
Redefining Success Beyond Tasks
Success extends beyond the confines of an ever-expanding task list. What if success was measured by the courage to acknowledge and meet our self-care needs? Consider this: "Today, I had a successful day because I was able to be fully present and connect deeply with a close friend." Or perhaps, "Today was a successful day because I did my skin cancer check I've been putting off." By redefining success on your terms, you liberate yourself from the expectations of a society fixated on perpetual productivity.
The Pitfalls of Chronic Over-Achievement
Like many of my neurokin, I've been a chronic over-achiever. Unfortunately, this path led to frequent burnouts. For example, I pursued my first Masters degree full-time while working as a psychologist full-time simultaneously. The chronic over-achieving streak runs in my blood, inherited from my dad's side of the family—chronic over-achievers, renowned workaholics. Being constantly busy has been a struggle for years. When my mum visits, she often says, 'Sit down, Amy—relax!' But it's a challenge for me. I spot one task, then another, worrying I'll forget about the other thing that needs doing unless I do it NOW.
Sound familiar? #hello ADHD!
It's difficult for our neurokin to slow down and recognize our self-care needs. After enduring numerous burnouts, I'm learning to accept that my worth is not determined by the number of tasks done or achievements I've made. For me, it's about making a difference to others, being a good enough mum, partner, friend, and daughter, and looking after my own needs.
Unique Needs of Neurodivergent Individuals
Neurodivergent people have unique needs. The stress to keep up can be particularly draining for us. The autistic and ADHD brain works in overdrive, processing the world in fascinating yet demanding ways. Higher sensitivity to stimuli, a powerful mind, and a frequent dance with anxiety mean that a break isn't a sign of weakness; it's a strategic pause.
Embracing the Power of Rest
Taking time to recharge isn't an admission of defeat; it's a declaration of self-care. In the words of renowned autism advocate Temple Grandin, "I am different, not less." Those differences include a unique approach to rest—a conscious acknowledgment that refueling is an especially necessary part of the neurodivergent journey.
Embracing the power of rest isn't just a suggestion; it's a survival strategy. It's a way of saying, "I am navigating a world that doesn't always understand my needs, and I need a moment to recharge."
Redefining Success, One Rest Break at a Time
Especially with the ADHD neurotype and the common need to be moving all the time, often to the point of exhaustion, the ability to rest is a superpower in itself. I'm not referring to collapsing in a heap after running around and doing loads of tasks; I'm referring to being strategic, using pacing, and bringing awareness to your body that a rest might be needed.
Yes, this is hard for us, but having the intention to do so can plant the seed that may grow—(maybe not flourish like neurotypicals, though—haha). So here's to my neurokin—navigating a world that sometimes feels like a party with the volume turned up to the max. Our need for rest isn't a quirk; it's a feature. Embracing the power of rest is not an option.
Let's collectively challenge the notion that productivity defines our worth.