In my early 20’s I took a two year hiatus from college because I was confused and unclear about my career direction. Plus, I was not inspired with what I had learned up to that point. In those days, college was cheap and I could afford to switch majors and add an extra year. Not so today! My fall-back position was to use the clerical skills my high school counselor insisted I develop because I was, well, a girl, and one who did not excel in math or science. My initial goal was to attend a prestigious university that required more than my counselor thought I could handle…well I digress – more on this in another post. So, I became the best typist and shorthand taker I could and had all the skills necessary to become a first rate secretary.
Here’s the kicker – I’m ADD, so a job that required me to sit behind a desk in a cubicle eight hours a day was bound to have enormous repercussions. I did not know I was at the time and, in fact, was only diagnosed a few years ago. Finally there was an explanation for the many challenges in my work life until I found my calling. Throughout my 20’s I must’ve had 20 secretarial jobs and got fired from at least 13 or more of them. When I look back at this, I can now laugh. But at the time it was a source of shame and destroyed my self-confidence until I entered graduate school. How is it someone as smart as me could not even make photocopies correctly? I had amazing skills, but I had no organizational ability and I despised the work. The good news is I could work one throughout college and graduate school and make additional cash through temp agencies. This was the first way I was able to leverage my ADD.
How To Leverage ADD In Your Work Life
If I was in a temporary job, I couldn’t make too much of a mess of it. However, this clearly was not the right field for me from the very beginning. I often felt incompetent and began to doubt my ability to earn a good living. Overall, I was bored and overwhelmed with details, rebellious, unfocused and impatient. In short undiagnosed and suffering. The thing that propelled me to go to graduate school was my overwhelming desire to have a “professional” career. I eventually went back to get my Bachelors, a teaching certification, and to graduate school in vocational/career counseling. Once I began practicing doing the work I love, everything changed and I became a superstar in my field. It was and is an amazing feeling to do the work we are meant to do and fulfills our purpose. And, for those of us with ADD, it is ESSENTIAL.
The key here is to leverage our ADD in the workplace, we MUST love what we do to perform our best work. This is not an option. The failures many of us experience in jobs that don’t match up with our ADD nature, given how we are wired, can be much more devastating than for those who are not doing what they love yet are able to focus and perform reasonably well.
Shell Mendelson, founder of NB Careers, specializes in guiding individuals with Career ADD and Career Paralysis to define an authentic career direction. Click here » to download a FREE “Six Minute Quick Goal Setting” exercise and take the first step on your job search journey.