Commitment to Transition

CoinFlipFlip a Coin

© By Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T., MCC, SCAC
Excerpted from an upcoming book; all rights reserved
CLICK HERE to begin at the beginning

We start small

We begin with the tedium of to-dos – because the lessons learned will generalize to the bigger changes and transitions that we all must face.

Meanwhile, we must all learn the ways in which we, uniquely, “chop wood, carry water.” ~ mgh

Chocolate or Vanilla?

To keep this process as simple as possible, we are going to forget about troubles with the Gap in this article, and work with only one of the other two transitional modes.


The initial step, once you have made your list so that you can work with your own personal and specific examples, is to agree to work on improving one transitional mode at a time.

If you’re having difficulty going into, you can’t simultaneously master the re-orientation of coming out of.  You’ll be left not wanting to do anything except sit in your boggle room and cry (or drink!)  Sound familiar?

Pick one mode and let’s go.

In the mode you’ve selected, write down ten specific tasks that prove extremely difficult (or nearly impossible) for you – even if you feel like an idiot to admit to yourself or anyone else that you can’t manage it like “everyone else.” 

Don’t switch to examples for the other mode – we’re cleaning up one neighborhood at a time.

Next to each one of your ten items, write down all the different activities, mental and physical, you go through to get from A to Z.  Below is an example to give you an idea of what I mean by that assignment.

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The Trouble with Transitions

Take a moment to think about what happens during a transition – NOT what happens in your life, in your head.

Think about all the cognitive hoops you have to jump through after an interruption, for example. Even if you are able to shift focus – and back – relatively easily, how effective are you really?


Let’s say I’m in the middle of rewriting a chapter of one of the books I am currently working on when the phone rings. I take a quick glance at caller-ID and wince.

Darn!  It’s a call I really need to take, but why now?! I don’t want to lose my momentum, I’m on a roll. I could call her back, but we’ve already been playing phone tag for a week.

Reluctantly, and as pleasantly as possible, I say hello, dragging my brain behind me. My caller hears the notes in my voice that tell her I’m in the middle of something so she wastes no time.

She gets right down to business, and I’m off the phone in less than ten minutes.  Amazing! The call went swimmingly. I am well on the way to a new business opportunity which will increase my bottom line with a nice chunk of change.

So why am I so disgruntled?

To answer that question, we need to unpack what’s going on in that head of mine, as I attempt to transition back to my “roll.”

Mode: Transitioning Into
GOAL: Getting back on-task after a phone call
List of “activities” involved in the difficulty

 Before I get re-engaged in my writing I might:
• Feel anger about the timing of the interruption
(Emotional reaction at lack of control = Amygdala activation)
• Begin to get nervous because I can’t remember where I was when the phone rang.
(Predictable PFC shutdown beginning, which I’m making worse by worrying about it)
• Bemoan the fact that I’m so distractible. Tell myself to chill.
(Mental make wrong = Amygdala activation)
• Make a mental note to set boundaries around any NEW phone calls
(Control attempt – shutting the barn door once the cows are gone)
• Worry that I’ll die before the darned book gets published!
(Awfulizing and hyperbolizing)
• Look at the time & begin to freak
(Escalating, right?)
• Take a deep breath and tell myself I need to focus.
(Yea, sure, that’ll work)
• Take a sip of coffee. (Stims help focus, coffee is a stim)
COLD! Take a walk to the microwave in the kitchen to reheat it
(Any attempt at control is better than NO attempt to control?)
• Walk back to my computer, sit down, take a sip, swallow and sigh
• Feel sad and hopeless at the realization that I’m no longer focused.
(Anger turned inward?)
I just don’t feel like I’m in the same state of mind
that I was in BEFORE I was interrupted

What’s YOUR Process?

Whatever your particular list of activities, I’ll bet you go through some similar states of mind. And I’ll bet at some point in the list you worry about the fact that you don’t feel like you are in the same state of concentration you were in before the transition.

Well, guess what?  You’re NOT.
There’s nothing wrong here.  It happens to everybody.

Unrealistic Expectations

Be_Good_to_YourselfA lot happens during a transition.

The expectation that you can slip back to any activity with the same degree of focus that you felt before the interruption it is a setup for failure.

You are expecting a superhuman trait of yourself.

The more you worry about it, the less likely you are to be able to get back on task. Accept this reality.

Be willing to allow yourself to re-enter the process of working, including allowing your mind the time it needs to become absorbed anew.  Accept that nothing crucial has been lost.

  • Yes, it would be great if there were never any interruptions.
  • We would certainly be able to accomplish a lot more, a lot more easily.
  • We’d get a lot more done if we never had to sleep, eat or go to the bathroom too.

Accept reality – do NOT accept the thought that you must somehow make up for these frailties of human existence because you have internalized the belief that your diagnosis, accident, illness – WHATEVER – has left you somehow “broken and defective.”

Commitment to Transition

The first commitment you must make is to participate in the transition process.  You must be willing to experience closure from the first task and re-initiation into the second – even if the task exists entirely in the mental domain.

Your commitment is to transition to your task – not to do it in five seconds, and not to do it without any change in consciousness.

You’re Sherlocking

Pay attention to the ways in which your mind enters focus and absorption.

  • Don’t place a time limit on it.
  • Do not pick up a new task to distract yourself.
  • Listen to yourself and learn to work with your own rhythms.

You are beginning to practice transitions and to realize that, while you can’t control them, you CAN tame them. Once you understand your own process, you will be able to predict your own process, and adjust your schedule accordingly.

That will change everything.

Get with the program

Working with the Transitions Process takes more time than anybody ever wants to give it, I know. Do it anyway.

  • Doing the work will pay dividends for the rest of your life – even if ALL you do with the knowledge is use it to handle your to-do list.
  • Once you understand the task-oriented applications, there’s so-much-more that can be accomplished with the same skill-set.

Look at the items on the ONE side of your Troubling Transitions task list – working with only ONE mode: transitioning into or transitioning out of – whichever is more troubling for you.
If you’re not sure, flip a coin.

  • Identify ONE item that is part of your process, and imagine yourself going through it.
  • Detail the list of activities involved in the difficulty by writing down the activities, both physical and mental, as you “replay” the task in your imagination.
  • Use my model, above, but make sure you use YOUR mental processes.

Pay close attention to your particular style of completion and engagement.

You are beginning to allow yourself to become aware of the truth about transitions.  As a result you will begin to alter your expectations to fit with reality as you learn more about your own unique, personal experience of the process of change.

©Phillip Martin artist/educator

© Phillip Martin artist/educator – by permission

Further exploration

Do the list-of-activities process with each of the items on your Transitional Modes list.  It may take you more than one session, more than one long day, or more than one month – but make sure you take the time to detail the steps on paper.

Making the lists acts as a mental rehearsal that makes each and every step of the task more conscious.

It may be difficult to believe, but the next time you feel you are having difficulty with these transitions, you are more likely to be patient with yourself while you allow your own very capable mind to adjust, simply because you have detailed the steps of what it needs to be able to do so.

That mental rehearsal process is called priming – and science has all sorts of studies demonstrating how well it works.

Next . . .

Once you’ve finished the ten items under the first mode, THEN do it again for the ten items under the second.

  • Is the process similar?  HOW similar?  What, specifically, is different?
  • Do you notice the same level of intellectual responsiveness in both modes?  Different levels?  In what way?  Rate it with a 1-10 number, or quantify it in some manner that makes sense to you.
  • Do you experience one feeling state more often in one mode than another (for example, anger, hopelessness, anxiety, denial, or a strong urge to escape into another activity)? Quantify it.
  • Any new insights?

Use outside assistance

Unless you are already working with a coach, find a non-judgmental buddy to play along. Report steps and completions to each other.  You can also leave a progress report as a comment on each of the articles themselves.

Outside accountability greatly increases the chances that you will actually take the time to do the work and make the lists.  You will be amazed at the difference it makes.

You can’t get the benefit if you don’t do the work.

If you don’t do the work, not only will you will continue to have trouble with transitions, you will probably beat yourself up when you do, and decide that you are lazy or conflicted about change.

Short-circuit that process before it can do its dirty work on your self-esteem.

This is one of the areas where those of you working with brain-based ADD Coaches have a decided advantage. Coaches who do not fully understand executive functioning are likely to fall into the “just” and “only” camp – and only comprehensive ADD Coach training centers on the study of “brain-based coaching” and neurodiversity.

No Coach on Board?

If you’re not ready to work with a coach, make SURE you take the time to work through the program.  Click each of the links to supporting articles here on before you check out the articles from others so that you will be able to read them with your “neurodiversity translator helmet” firmly in place.

BUT DO CLICK *ALL* THE LINKS and read the content.  (click “like” at the bottom as you read each one and you will be able to keep track of where you are — without having to make yet another hateful list ;).

If we were working together, I would be giving you this information in a “need to know NOW” fashion, but it IS possible to get the benefit by working through on your own.  That’s why I put this information on my blog. But you can’t get the benefit if you don’t do the work.

Watch for a TTTT Announcement: Keep an eye out for news of an upcoming beta version of a TeleClass where we’ll work through troublesome transitions in a group format: The TransitionTamer™ TeleClass. Coaching Groups aren’t free, but they ARE a cost-effective way to get more coaching than you might be able to afford one-on-one – and the first time I offer a class is ALWAYS the best deal.

As always, if you want notification of new articles in the Transitions Series – or any new posts on this blog – give your email address to the nice form on the top of the skinny column to the right. (You only have to do this once, so if you’ve already asked for notification about a prior series, you’re covered for this one too). STRICT No Spam Policy

IN ANY CASE, stay tuned.
There’s a lot to know, a lot here already, and a lot more to come – in this Series and in others.
Get it here while it’s still free for the taking.

Want to work directly with me? If you’d like some one-on-one (couples or group) coaching help with anything that came up while you were reading this Series, click HERE for Brain-based Coaching with mgh, with a contact form at its end, or click the E-me link on the menubar at the top of every page. Fill out the form, submit, and an email SOS is on its way to me; we’ll schedule a call to talk about what you need. I’ll get back to you ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible!)

Articles in the TransitionTamer™ Series

Linklists: Easy for me to keep updated for access from ALL related articles
– easy for YOU to jump to the article you want –
(hover before clicking on any link to see more)

Other related articles here on

Related Articles ’round the net

BY THE WAY: I revisit all my content periodically to update links — when you link back, like, follow or comment, you STAY on the page. When you do not, you run a high risk of getting replaced by a site with a more generous come-from.

About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

7 Responses to Commitment to Transition

  1. Pingback: EF Management Tips and Tricks | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  2. roslederman says:


    I just emailed you my guest blog entry (“Ros Lederman–guest blog entry”). I think it might fit well in this section (Hopefully Helpful > Tips, Tricks & Techniques > Completion: Org & Task), but I’ll leave that up to you.

    Thanks for the opportunity to be a guest blogger!



    • Thanks for letting me know HERE! My email client is a hot mess, so now I know to search for it.

      I may not get it on the site until September, however. I have promised myself some time t-totally OFF to figure out what the next steps on my life’s trajectory need to be.

      I am currently dealing with a great many logistical details to be able to leave town for a few weeks, possibly in preparation for a major move.

      I WILL, however, locate it, read it, and let you know something before I “disappear” for a bit. Congrats on this completion – and I hope my timing doesn’t take the wind out of YOUR sails.

      This will be my first vacation since I started the ADD field, almost two decades ago – something always seems to keep me tethered to my computer ::groan:: — and I can’t let that happen this particular summer.



    • Hey Ros – I got it (good thing you let me know it was coming and how to find it because my kludgy Eudora filters threw it in the TRASH – technology loves to torture me!). Sent you an email re: article links on your blog. I inserted links to all 3 of your sites, so if you don’t have “related content” otherwise, not to worry (love Rozberries & Creme – name and concept).

      Anyway, it’s up in draft, and I now need to change the post dates on a few articles in the queue so it will auto-post, even if I’m away. I’ll let you know the date to look for it (and to start checking for comments you might want to respond to).

      I like your voice, your come-from , and the thoroughness with which you work – I hope you’ll decide to guest again. My door’s open to you ANY time!


  3. Nicole Stuart says:

    Madelyn I would like to provide some feedback I order to be helpful and believe one can only respond if they know.

    The below format of your email notices is not helpful. The tags take up as much space as the introductory text and the introduction does not provide enough. I have seen other emails where they are more like newsletter format and much more helpful in that you can start to actually read the article before having to connect to the website. Your emails have rarely lead me to connect with your website.

    Thank you for listening.

    Nicole Stuart Sent from my iPad


    • Thanks Nicole – how discouraging! I’m sorry the format is frustrating & I really appreciate the feedback. Unfortunately, there is nothing I can DO about it except email your comment to the folks, which I doubt will change much of anything. The notification format is standard WordPress RSS – I can’t figure out a way to change it. And it makes me nuts TOO.

      At this point, ALL I can do is offer what I’ve learned in my 25 years in the field the best way I CAN on this [free] platform – a non-billable labor of love and support.

      You have named only ONE of the problems I’m having with the platform – problems I will only be able to impact once gets up and running and I can, effectively, make my own rules. In order to do anything else (ala newsletter format OR an actual newsletter), I would need to be able to use plug-ins, which are not allowed.

      I can’t even figure out a way to offer classes, etc. without plugins, because there is no way to automate administration and payment. I also have to html code like CRAZY to work around the standard blog format – which takes a TON of time. (NONE of which I understood initially and didn’t understand until I felt I was too far in to suddenly back out!)

      The ONLY work-around I can suggest for you is to think about the notices as a nudge to hop over to the blog, scroll down to the list of recent articles, and click the top link on the right sidebar — which is always the last article posted.

      The further down you go, the OLDER they are, in order. After a month or two, they “age off” the list (but you can still find them in a number of ways, including “related articles” I include at the bottom of each post)

      I would appreciate hearing if that won’t work, because If my content isn’t getting READ because the notices are too much of a hassle for my readers, then perhaps the considerable time I spend on putting content together and getting it up on the blog would be better spent doing something else until is up and running.

      Let me know – and thanks for the feedback.



    • Hey Nicole – Part of the problem is that they don’t send ME what goes out to you. I tweaked a few things “in the dark” (set a bunch of “no”s) to see if that makes a difference. Let me know.


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