Setting Attainable Goals & Practicing Self-Compassion with ADHD

As you work through goal setting, remind yourself that you are worthy of self-compassion.

You may have internalized years worth of criticism from outsiders which can evolve into beliefs about your self-worth, but it’s important to remember that with some effort, beliefs can be challenged and changed.

Medically reviewed

Last update: January 25, 2022
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    Starting a new year is a great opportunity for a fresh start. Whether that's starting a new routine, updating your existing habits, or solely just becoming the best version of yourself, you are the one who defines what the new year means to you. 

    But when you have ADHD, the pressure around setting resolutions and goals can feel overwhelming. 

    So how can you set realistic expectations for yourself while practicing self-compassion?

    Break it down

    Once you feel ready, take a look at what you want to achieve and start breaking your goals down. 

    With ADHD, big and abstract goals can feel overwhelming and difficult to execute. Breaking your goals down into something that feels realistic to you can reduce the stress of having goals that seem out of reach. 

    If your goal is to run a marathon, start with something small that you can do every day, like a 10-minute jog around your block.

    Set reminders

    To support yourself in achieving your goals, write them down somewhere that you will frequently see. This will act as a daily reminder for you. Paste a sticky note on your mirror, make it your phone lockscreen, or even put a note on your fridge. The most important thing is making sure it’s somewhere that you’ll naturally see every day.

    If you find that those reminders don’t help, try setting an extra phone reminder or daily alarm to give you that extra push.

    Once you stay consistent with doing something every day, it will become a natural part of your routine and you won’t even have to think twice about it.

    Reframe your thoughts

    One of the most important steps to attaining your goals when you have ADHD is working on reframing your negative thoughts. Instead of telling yourself you can’t do something, acknowledge that it’s not working as you thought it would today but you’ll try again tomorrow.

    Try to catch yourself when any negative thoughts come out and replace them with positive affirmations. Your brain needs to hear them in order to dismantle those negative thoughts. 

    If you’re having trouble thinking of some positive affirmations as you’re on the journey to accomplish your goals, here are some examples:

    “I am capable of accomplishing my goals”
    “Creativity comes naturally to me”
    “I always move forward from my mistakes”
    “I’m becoming a better me every day”

    Track your progress & celebrate small wins

    Now that you’ve been thinking about how to set these goals, let’s talk about how to track them.

    Paper or digital journaling is a great way to keep track of your goals throughout time. This can be done in the form of a habit tracker, a simple note, or journal entries. If you prefer to track goals on your phone, try using a habit tracker app.

    When you’re tracking your progress, it’s important to make room to celebrate the smaller wins. For example, if your goal is to not use your phone an hour before bed, staying off your phone even 20 minutes before bed is a small win! 

    Practice self-compassion

    You are not your negative thoughts.

    Progress is progress, no matter how big or small, even if it doesn’t align with your initial ambitions. Changing the way you approach things is difficult, but possible. It’s important to acknowledge that these things take time.

    So how can you start being more mindful about self-compassion? 

    When you’re on the journey to set new goals or start new hobbies it’s important to be forgiving with yourself throughout the process. That includes allowing yourself to make mistakes, not worrying about hitting your goals in time, and not being hard on yourself if you fall off track. 

    Find your support system

    Having a strong support system is what will help keep you going.

    Talk to your loved ones about your ADHD and how they can specifically support you on your journey. These people can also be a huge help by holding you accountable to your new goals.

    If you don’t have a support system, try joining an ADHD support group either in person or online where you can find a group of people who are living similar experiences.

    Be kind to yourself and remember that the biggest challenge was mustering up the courage to get started.

    Frida Care Team

    We are a group of clinicians, continuous care support, writers, and creators who care deeply about patient care and ADHD. Together, we write content that we hope sheds light on ADHD and the health care space at large. You can reach us at if you have any questions!