Laying a Solid Foundation with Executive Function Pre-Skills – 111Dec 29, 2022
Full Episode Transcript Laying a Solid Foundation with Executive Function Pre-Skills – 111
Hi Aspiring Achievers,
There is a serious, wide-spread problem with the educational requirements in the mental health field. Most professionals are studying the same outdated information about ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, Trauma and Addictions, in preparation for licensure. They aren’t studying what happens to your executive function development because of those conditions.
The most common treatment recommended for adults with ADHD is medication, and the same is true for Depression and Anxiety. Unfortunately, medication alone isn’t the best solution, and for many of you, it isn’t a good option at all. Many of your life experiences pull the energy that is supposed to be going into the development of your executive function skills and channels it elsewhere. This could have led to the diagnosis of depression, anxiety, trauma, addictions, chronic illnesses as well as ADHD. So, no matter what diagnoses you have collected along the way, there are no skills in pills and we need to focus on developing our executive function skills if we hope to live a full and fulfilling life.
From the time we are born, we are developing skills – we learn to walk and talk, to read and write, to bathe and dress ourselves. These are all skills. And as we get older, we learn more complex skills such as organizing our thinking as well as our possessions, planning our playdates and the time we need to complete our schoolwork. We watch and learn how to interact with others; hopefully by developing healthy relationship skills. These are executive function skills and only the tip of the iceberg.
Are the mental health professionals you see suggesting that you develop your executive function skills so the life you are dreaming of achieving can be yours? Probably not. Did you know that there are no requirements for mental health professionals to know anything about adult ADHD? Or that Executive Function deficits have been lumped together with ADHD and don’t have a diagnostic code of their own in the DSV-5? Or that a separate diagnostic code for Executive Function deficits finally exists in the ICD-11 and can be paired with diagnoses other than just adult ADHD? And that there is no requirement for mental health professionals to know anything about your underdeveloped Executive Function skills? For a field grounded in “do no harm”, that is not what is happening.
I have often asked myself whether or not the underdevelopment of our executive function skills plays a significant role in our depressions and anxieties. It certainly can be. Depression is not a normal part of growing older and often goes undiagnosed and untreated in older adults, similarly to what happens with adult ADHD. Looking at the symptoms of depression in older adults, I found memory difficulties (which could be due to working memory deficits), often wanting to stay home, rather than do new things or go out to socialize (which could be due to a lack of well-developed social skills such as self-monitoring). The fatigue or sleep problems could be due to the cumulative impact of so many underdeveloped Executive Function skills that you are exhausted from doing your best to get through each day and attend to your adult responsibilities; you have no energy left to enjoy your life. Anxieties can also be due to a lack of well-developed EF skills and fears of not being able to perform as required in adulthood.
As adults, we need to have the energy to get things done and the ability to focus when and where we need to focus until we have finished a task. We need to be able to shift from task to task throughout the day, without the fear that we won’t be able to return to a task because it took us so long to finally get focused and clear about the task itself, that we don’t want to lose that momentum. So, we pull an all-nighter to complete a task and compromise our performance the next day. Millions of adults can’t live a meaningful and fulfilling life because of their weak working memory, poor organizing or planning or prioritizing skills and more. These EF deficits add even more challenges to daily life than you might already be experiencing. This is a multi-generational problem that is only getting worse. Your parents couldn’t help you develop your EF skills when theirs were lacking. And our children, the next generation, need us to be fully functional if we are going to be able to raise them to be the fully functional as well. They are looking to us. What are we going to show them?
I talk a lot about developing your Executive Function Skills and I thought it was time to swing back around and talk about your Executive Function Pre-Skills. In order to develop your Executive Function Skills more easily, it makes sense to develop your Pre-Skills first. So, what’s a pre-skill? Anything that is essential for you to be able to do before you start to develop the other EF skills you know you need. And, which pre-skills are needed will differ from person to person.
Here’s an example to help you understand what I mean. When you are a kid and first learning to ride a two-wheeler bicycle, one important skill is balance. In order to be able to remove the training wheels that you might have had on your two-wheeler (like I did), you need to have developed your balance. Now, you can develop your balance while you are learning to ride your two-wheeler or you can develop your balance before you get on your two-wheeler and shorten the time it will take to learn to ride your two-wheeler. There’s not much to learn to do on the two-wheeler other than pedal, brake, steer, and keep your balance so you don’t fall over.
As a gymnast in college, I worked the balance beam as well as the horse, and the rings. Even a low balance beam would have been great to practice on as a kid before I started to learn to ride my two-wheeler bike. Training for balance in advance of riding the two-wheeler is what I consider a pre-skill. I would master my balance before I get on the two-wheeler, so that it goes easier for me and I can remove the training wheels sooner.
Another example - How many of you have ever purchased a book on a topic you want to achieve something with and can’t achieve your outcome because you don’t have the skills you need to have in order to do the work in the book and get the outcomes they promise. I know I used to have that experience a lot. I needed a lot of pre-skills in order to enter the book where the book started. The book didn’t meet me where I was and I had to upgrade my skills to meet the book where it began. I would have saved myself a lot of frustration if I understood this years ago. It not my fault (or yours) that we aren’t getting the desired outcomes. What is missing are the pre-skills for us to succeed.
So, when I created the ADDventures In Achievement Foundational Skills program, I made sure to include 3 pre-skills I feel are important before we get to the development of the main 13 Executive Function skills, so my students are prepared for the deeper work of their EF skill development. The 3 pre-skills I selected are based on the challenges I saw my first students experiencing. They are your relationship with time and how you manage yourself as well as time itself; putting an end to procrastination by understanding why it happens and what it actually indicates; and how to make decisions in bulk, to avoid decision fatigue, as well as know that the decisions you are making are good decisions even before you act on what you’ve decided.
What I’ve observed about these 3 EF pre-skills is that they aren’t what most people think they are. These 3 pre-skills run more deeply than expected. And most of my students had no idea how undeveloped these skills were for them, and all the places in life that these well-developed pre-skills are needed.
There are many more pre-skills than just the 3 I have included in this episode and in the ADDventures In Achievement Foundational Skills program. It’s one of the reasons I created The Transformation Club, which is now available. We are working on developing our Executive Function pre-skills, which are important in and of themselves, such as a Resilient Mindset because if your mind isn’t resilient, how will you surf the experiences that life brings to you with grace and efficiency? And if lots of your beliefs are limiting you, you need to release them in place of more empowering ones or you will be stuck rather than unstoppable. To learn more about The Transformation Club check the show notes.
And, if you’ve been depressed or anxious years ago and think now that those conditions are over, your EF skills will just reboot and get developed – think again. They don’t. You need to intentionally reboot their development because they don’t just come back online again once the derailing events are over. We are all 100% responsible for the outcomes in our lives, and if it is to be, it is up to me (or you) to step up and develop these essential skills. I’ve developed my EF skills, and they are a part of me now, not an appendage that I have to remember to use. My life keeps getting better and better with each passing year, and at 71, there is no indication whatsoever of a decline in my executive functioning.
If you’re like most of the students I’ve worked with over the years, you already have a full life and don’t have the time to add something more to your plate. I hear you. And yet I know that everyone listening to this episode has at least 15 minutes a day to give to this very important undertaking, whether you waste those 15 minutes a day or spend them struggling.
Honestly, it doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming because it isn’t, however, that depends on your beliefs. If you have limiting beliefs that say that everything is difficult for you and you can’t do anything right and what is the point because you are only going to quit after a few lessons…do you think that having those beliefs is going to get you the life you want? It won’t. And if you don’t believe you can change those beliefs, think again. A belief isn’t a fact and you can change all of your beliefs if need be.
If you want to do something about your limiting beliefs, you should consider joining me in The Transformation Club, since beliefs is our next topic.
And, if you suspect ADHD or have that diagnosis, or a diagnosis of depression or anxiety or many others, you may want to check out the development of your EF skills. You can do so with my free PDF, “13 Signs Weak Executive Functioning Is Holding You Back.” Be sure to get it, score it, and then you’ll know more about what may be holding you back or making your life so challenging. It’s not your fault AND you are 100% responsible for the outcomes you want in your life.
Whether the cause of your limiting beliefs, outdated identities, missing pre-skills and underdeveloped executive function skills is due to ADHD, traumatic experiences, depression, anxiety, addictions, chronic illnesses or something else, the lack of these capabilities puts you in a bad situation. You can spend your time pursuing a diagnosis and perhaps medication and this process can take months and sometimes years, depending on where you live. Or, you can go straight to the solution, so you can successfully perform the basics of your adult life and more. You can always pursue a diagnosis or medication while you are actively engaged in the solution, but waiting is wasting precious time. Are you seriously committed to transforming your life? There are only 2 answers: Yes or No. If your answer is yes, and now is your time, I can help you. If your answer is no, I can’t help you because I can’t do the transformational work for you.
We all create our own reality and we create our reality based on our perception of the information and stimulus that comes into our mind and the meanings that we make out of it; nothing comes with any meaning. We are the meaning makers in our life and we have the power to change the meanings we have given experiences once we have the skills and strategies to do so.
I’ve heard it said many times in years past that we are having two experiences in this lifetime: that of a human being having a spiritual experience, and that of a spiritual being having a human experience. Either way, you are a precious child of the universe; and are called a “human being” not a “human doing” for good reason. You don’t have to earn your value; you were born with it. Your value comes from “who” you are “being”; not what you are doing, which means that you can wake up every day with your value 100% and that’s pretty awesome. It’s a great win.
Speaking of wins, what’s it going to be for you today? You’ve already organized your receipts and paperwork for your taxes; you rock! You’ve been engaged in year-end decluttering of your home and it’s looking and feeling so much better to you; that’s awesome! You’ve already started living your new commitments instead of waiting until the new year; that’s fantastic! Each one of these WINS deserves your full-hearted celebrating! YES!!! WOW!!! AWESOME!!! I know you all have wins – big and small – and I am hopeful that you are celebrating them all every day.
How much time do we have? Not much. So, let’s get to it.
A couple of pre-skill short-stories about decision-making you may identify with.
Martha, is married, has 2 kids, works part-time and has no time for herself. She is confused because she seemed to manage okay when she was single and even when she was newly married. Starting a family added tons of decisions to her daily life and has really tested her decision-making skills. And since she wanted the decisions, she made to be good for her kids, her family, her marriage and herself, that’s a lot of decision fatigue that started setting in because Martha wasn’t very developed in this EF pre-skill. She could get by before and if she didn’t make a great decision, she could still save the situation. The stakes were much higher now and it was taking its toll on her.
Martha’s parents had taught her the same decision-making strategy that I was taught as a kid – the good ol’ Ben Franklin strategy of drawing a line down the middle of a piece of paper and putting the pros on one side and the cons on another side and making a decision from that information. She wasn’t doing much better than I did at making great decisions because this information and approach is flawed. It leaves out so many things to consider in order to make a great decision.
When Martha heard about my decision-making made easy methodology, she was struck by the words “made easy.” How she was making decisions at the time wasn’t a sustainable or easy. After learning this new, easy methodology that taught her what goes into making great decisions, Martha was no longer bogged down with decision fatigue or fear that she was making bad decisions for herself and her family. What a relief she felt after all the years of stress around decision-making.
Charley had always wanted to own a business. He felt it would give him the freedom and the success he was seeking. However, it was the company that really owned Charley, not the other way around because he was completely out of balance between his work and personal lives. He didn’t understand why running his business was so difficult for him until he learned about executive function skills and specifically their pre-skills. Then it all made sense to Charley.
Making great decisions, and sometimes needing to make many at a time or make them quickly isn’t something that came naturally to Charley. Like Martha, Charley was taught the good ol’ Ben Franklin method and it just didn’t give him the structure and feedback he needed to make his business decisions or even his life decisions for that matter.
Charley had taken a lot of business courses before he started his own business. Unfortunately, none of those courses taught him the important pre-skill of decision-making nor how to manage his time or himself with time, and definitely not about procrastination in business and what it really is and how to banish it.
When Charley learned about EF pre-skills and how they would benefit him, he was thrilled. He started to study and develop his EF pre-skills and his relationship with time improved, he stopped procrastinating, and he knew that the decisions he was making were solid for the outcomes he was seeking, both personally and professionally. Equipped with this strong foundation of EF pre-skills, it was easier for him to stay in business, grow his business, and build on this foundation to then develop his other EF skills. When I last heard, Charley was doing quite well and it was definitely a sustainable way of life for him.
Be intentional about what you bring into your life. Be 100% responsible for what you bring into your life. Find out if you need to develop your EF skills to live your best life ever.
My hope is that eventually more and more healthcare providers will see the benefits of specialized Executive Function Skills Training for adults, no matter what diagnosis we are given, since the development of these EF pre-skills and core skills gets derailed for many reasons other than ADHD. And yes, it would be wonderful if we had all been given this opportunity when we were kids, but that didn’t happen for most. We are being given this opportunity now, as adults, and it is our choice to close the gap or not. Our quality of life depends on what we decide.
If you’ve been listening to my podcast show for some time and have wanted to work with me because you know you need to develop your EF skills, but just haven’t been able to get it together to do so, no worries. I recently created and opened up a new program, The Transformation Club (or TTC for short), to serve those of you who know you need EF pre-skill and skill development
It’s a structured membership program that focuses on 3 aspects of your life: mind, emotions and behaviors. It’s delivered as a live monthly training on Zoom video, with replays available, as well as a live monthly Q & A session on Zoom video, answering your questions about that month’s training; replays also available for the Q & A sessions. And because I know that so many of you have questions that you’d love answers to, I produce a monthly, private, members only podcast episode responding to your questions. We’ve created a form for TTC members only to request their questions be answered in podcast format. And, because I believe that privacy is important for us to feel safe to share, grow and transform our lives, there is a private peer-to-peer community forum connected to the program and off social media.
If this sounds like something you would benefit from, enrollment is open and transformation is waiting for you. If you like attending live trainings, our next live training is on Wednesday, January 4, 2023. In the meantime, the live training and live Q & A recordings from December are in the membership waiting for you to benefit from and help you develop your Resilient Mind.
This could be perfect for you as the solution to work with me to develop your EF pre-skills and skills, and either use this as a stepping stone into AIA-FS or simply stay in TTC long-term. Either way, you will be giving yourself the gift of EF development that almost everyone on the planet is in need of these days due to the many reasons that our EF skills and pre-skills derail and remain underdeveloped.
The years of your life will pass no matter what you do. It’s really the choice of what you will put into those years rather than them just be passing years filled with frustration and regrets, and who you will be (the human being) for the rest of your life.
You came to this lifetime with empowering gifts, and I would love it if each and every person on this planet were able to express his or her unique, empowering gifts freely, without the threat of being shamed or criticized. Let’s put an end to that stigma once and for all and live as Empowered Achievers.
A Favorite Quote: Tony Robbins said, “It is the small decisions you and I make every day that create our Destiny.”
I love this quote because it’s so true. It’s why I focused on the EF pre-skills in today’s episode. Without the ability to make great decisions and know they are great decisions every day of your life, all of your poor decisions will add up to a quality of life and destiny that you probably won’t enjoy.
If you’re loving the podcast, here’s how to get even more support: check out the links in the show notes for transformative opportunities that are waiting for you.
· The Transformation Club – the affordable community for EF training: https://www.drbarbaracohen.com/ttcprogram
· Free PDF - 13 Signs Weak Executive Functioning Is Holding You Back: https://www.drbarbaracohen.com/Executive-Function
· Executive Function Information List & AIA-FS Program Information: https://www.drbarbaracohen.com/AIA
And, if you want more support than The Transformation Club, be sure to learn about the AIA-FS program. If you’re ready to tap into the 90% of your mind that can help you reach new levels of success and eliminate what holds you back, get on the Information List to learn about the AIA-FS program. This is an exclusive experience for those serious about more deeply transforming their life. It’s opening up again in February 2023, and if you’re on the Information List, you’ll be the first notified when doors open.
Subscribe & Review in Apple Podcasts If you found value in this episode, please leave me a review on Apple Podcasts! Our mission is to help as many people as possible transform their lives, and when you leave a positive review, more people can find this podcast! Just click here to review, select “Ratings and Reviews” and “Write a Review” and tell me what your favorite part of the podcast is. Thank you!
If you are seriously ready to stop your needless suffering and free yourself from your personal prison, I look forward to seeing you in The Transformation Club or inside the AIA-FS program. Be sure to check out these opportunities with the links in the show notes. There are real solutions to the challenges you are experiencing, and they are available now. Time is our most precious asset, and none of us have time to waste on solutions that don’t work. I would love to help you realize a new freedom, that is…if that’s of interest to you. Thanks for listening… Until the next time… Bye for now…
Developing your Executive Function Skills and shifting your limiting beliefs is the fastest and most effective way to overcome ADHD limitations, find focus, gain confidence, and a newfound freedom in your life!
My mission is to put an end to the worldwide needless suffering of adults with ADHD and those with under-developed Executive Function Skills - whether from ADHD, chronic depression or anxiety, trauma, addictions, or chronic illnesses. And, you don't need a formal diagnosis to know you need help developing these executive function skills in order to greatly reduce your suffering.
- ADDventures In Achievement Foundational Skills Program information:
- Free PDF - 13 Signs Weak Executive Functioning Is Holding You Back:
- The Transformation Club – the affordable community for Executive Function training:
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