If you’re a creative professional with ADHD or any other neurodivergent condition i.e. bipolar disorder, autism, etc, you’re right to feel daunted at the steep incline to professional success. Because any career in the creative industries will be bi-polar in its culture: You’re It,  you’re not, you’re hot, you’re cold…and sometimes for no discernible reason other than what you make up.  

You’re not opting for 9-5, you’re not opting for a predictable ascent as may be the case in corporate professions, the law, medicine, working for the government, or anything else. You’ve opted for a professional rollercoaster. As if the rollercoaster of life at large was not enough.

But don’t despair because even if it has a somewhat predictable trajectory, linear is not easy either. I can’t tell you how often I wish I could work for somebody else because of the vicissitudes of an entrepreneurial (aka business owner’s) life. But there’s a reason I can’t work for anybody else, not that I haven’t from time to time. At some point, something about it becomes too hard. Too…uninteresting. And if you have ADHD, being uninterested is really hard. 

So rather than bemoan your plight, you’re better off figuring out your strengths, which will more than likely be in an area you enjoy. And if it’s a ‘creative’ profession, you will need to develop a particular set of skills to deal with those particular challenges. 

The first of those skills is the ability to establish and maintain spiritual groundedness. If you identify with anything other than the ineffable You, the You, not the ‘you’ you think or have been told you are, you will be burdened with the illusion that worldly success defines you. If it does, then every professional challenge becomes a life-and-death situation. The stress of that is simply unsustainable.

This is why you need to believe in something greater than yourself. That is the essence of emotional resilience in the artist with ADHD. It could be an existential belief in your power to create meaning from anything that happens. (If that’s you, then stop reading this blog right now and pick up Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning if you haven’t read it already.)

It could be you ascribe to the You that is an emanation of Divine Consciousness. (I find myself ascribing to both views simultaneously.)  Whatever you believe, your worldly success in the eyes of others must be secondary to that spiritual grounding. 

The next important skill is what is currently called ‘emotional fitness’. That’s a less shrink-like term for emotional self-regulation…no, that’s still a shrink term. I mean, controlling your emotions. Also a really big challenge when you’re neurodiverse because it is an executive function that may not yet be well-developed in you. 

Basically, you’ve got to learn to pause in the throes of really big feelings…the way you would in a massive storm. During a storm, you seek refuge and wait it out. The good news is that in the case of an emotional hijacking, this is not as passive as it sounds…it is teachable. For now, in the absence of that learnable skill set, trust that doing nothing is probably better than doing something until the proverbial sun comes out again.
The Rollercoaster of a creative profession is why I created my 5-Emotions methodology. I’ve touched on them a bit here…but if you’d really like to do a deep dive, check out my webinar on Saturday!