How ADHD Coaching Transformed My Life: A Detailed Account of Month 1

A detailed walkthrough of a Chris’ first month of ADHD coaching at Shimmer

Less than 10 minutes into my first meeting with (one of) my ADHD coach(es), Xenia, I knew my life would be transformed.

In this blog post, I’m going to jump straight into it—show you the power of just my 3 first coaching sessions with Coach Xenia: I’m going to go into detail into what happened, how I felt, what value I derived, and what the outcomes were. The goal of this blog is to give you a real life peek into what actually happens in these sessions.

Prior to the first session

Before my first session, I:

  • went through some psycho-education on what ADHD coaching is (and isn’t), the role of my coach & myself, and what my Shimmer journey would look like
  • filled out a short onboarding assessment that asked me about my ADHD, what I hoped to achieve with Shimmer, what challenges are standing in the way, and what success would look like
  • filled out the “Shimmer Mastery” Assessment, a detailed (but fun!) questionnaire that asked me about various areas of my life that are generally impacted by ADHD

For context, I have gone through the onboarding experience of over 10 other ADHD coaches. If you haven’t yet, it generally involves a series of Google Docs, PDFs, emails, and Google Form questionnaires (I lose most of them…), and I am always left super overwhelmed. Shimmer’s onboarding was hands down the most intuitive, lightweight, fun, and empowering experience.

Personally, the part I liked the most was the forcing function of self-awareness. Pausing and taking the time to reflect on the different parts of my life that were impacted by ADHD and how I wanted to change them was a big value in itself. It got me excited for our first session and just antsy to get started.

Disclaimer: Of course, I’m a little biased because I helped design it.

Session 1: Building rapport, visualizing my future, and picking a focus

During our first session:

  • We introduced ourselves and checked in on how we’re feeling today
  • Xenia led me through a visualization exercise of where I wanted to be in 3 months
  • We discussed a few of the main challenges I was facing around productivity & deep thinking
  • We chose one specific challenge I would like to address
  • Xenia introduced a tool for me to use and promised to send me reading resources after

I walked away from this session feeling the most hopeful I’ve felt in a long time. I went straight to my partner to rave about how excited I was for my coaching journey. I chalked this up to a mix of 2 main things: (1) Xenia’s keen ability to ask powerful questions and notice patterns in my answers and (2) the visualization exercise itself that brought me out of my day-to-day problems and set my vision on the future horizon.

I want to take a moment to talk about this visualization exercise, an exercise I’ve been led through multiple times in my life before but it always felt a bit cheesy and never hit home in this way. This question can be asked in many ways (e.g. the Miracle Question, The Eulogy Question…) and essentially asks you to put yourself in the future and fully paint the image of what life would look like. I described a vision where I could properly use my “working hours” and move our company forward, such that I wasn’t working late into the night unnecessarily. Then Xenia kept asking deeper questions to uncover what were the motivations behind my wanting this, what would change for me, what impact that would have in my life, and the life of those next to me, etc. This conversation was so incredibly energizing and brought so much hope & excitement into my whole body. After that, we talked about what specifically was in the way of me getting there—by laying everything out so clearly, this in itself surfaced many goals I didn’t realize were necessary to get to my vision.

After the visualization exercise, we picked out one concrete challenge that was in my way: fitting strategic thinking into my week at the right times. There’s a lot to unpack in that sentence that I didn’t realize at the time—e.g. what are my most energized times? What gets in the way of me getting this done? How do we control those things? How do I measure success? These are all things we explored in the coming weeks.

Following the session, Xenia sent me a PDF resource by Cal Newport about the concept of “time blocking”, and asked me a series of reflection questions about the exercise. I had to get this to her by the next time we met. The moment she sent it to me, I dove right in.

For those not familiar with Cal Newport or time blocking:

The time-blocking concept, as popularized by productivity author Cal Newport, involves scheduling out specific chunks of time in your day for focused work on a particular task or project. By blocking off a dedicated period of time for focused work, you can eliminate distractions and increase your productivity and concentration. This allows you to be intentional with your time and energy throughout the day.

Session 2: Learning about habit formation & setting our first experiment

During our second session:

  • Xenia checked in on how I did with the reading
  • I shared some of my reflections and excitement
  • We explored how time blocking could look in my life
  • Xenia shared some of the science behind behavior change and how to make habits stick
  • We walked through some of the habit formation “best practices” in my context
  • We finalized the “plan” for the week

I was already excited about time blocking before the session even started, so I didn’t think it was possible to be more… yet, here we are. What really got me this session is the level of specificity we got to about how to help me form this habit, and being a psychology nerd, knowing this was based on the latest science. In short, Xenia explained that many people try and fail with their habits but it’s not a lost cause! There are 6 psychological tools that you can use to make sure habits stick. Here are the 6 tools and the questions we talked through:

  • 👉 Start with joy. Ask yourself how you’ll make sure you enjoy it—nobody wants to do things that are unpleasant.
  • 👉 How do you start? In line with injecting joy, pick 1 nice thing to do to start the ritual (e.g. espresso, or a particular cup)
  • 👉 How do you end? Choose something to do at the end to reward yourself and signify the end of the routine (e.g. a face cream, looking at something funny online)
  • 👉 Plan for contingencies. What would happen if you don’t do it? What will you do instead? Make sure there is a backup plan or contingency pathways
  • 👉 Plan for distractions. What distractions could potentially come up? How will you remove, block, or re-channel those distractions (e.g. having a distraction log, locking your door)
  • 👉 Experiment: Take an agile mindset and remember that it won’t necessarily work the first time. Figure out what part didn’t work so that you can get back at it!

In the end, we decided I would aim for 3x/week deep work blocks at 3h each, I’d start it with a coffee, ritualize it with a scented candle, end it with some sun splashed on my face, plan around a few contingencies around things that could pop up during those times, and we put them on my calendar during the session. We agreed to check in next week.

Session 3: Brainstorming solutions to challenges & iterating

During our third session:

  • Xenia checked in on how I did with my time-blocking session
  • I rambled a little (of course) and Xenia brought me back
  • We explored what got in the way of me executing the time blocks properly
  • We brainstormed solutions to those challenges
  • We chose 3 specific takeaways or “fixes” to experiment with this week

After a week of time blocking, I had experienced the value and benefits of it, but I was still facing some challenges in sticking to them. In this session, Xenia helped me explore the reasons behind the times I was not able to properly execute. We took the time to brainstorm solutions to these challenges. This process, now while writing it, sounds intuitive and simple. However, in the past, before I had Xenia in my life, I would simply just “try harder” each week, and feel bad about the times when I missed it. Just having Xenia ask the questions she asked, I hope that in the future if I even ask myself half of those questions effectively, I am confident I’ll be in a way better place.

Another aspect I really liked about our solutions brainstorming is that she challenged me to think about solutions that weren’t just in my own head—it was opposite to the brute force approach. She challenged me to involve other people on my team, delegate, and use other team members to keep me accountable. As someone who generally tries to stomach the burden of my ADHD alone, this felt equally empowering and scary (but in a good way).

The value I derived from just 3 sessions

I get asked a lot, what exactly is the value of ADHD coaching? And the answers, previously swirling around in my head, are summarized below with examples from the above 3 sessions:

My ADHD coach:

  • Offers resources and suggestions: Cal Newport’s Time Blocking exercise, mindfulness, habit formation science
  • Helps me see the future: Helped me envision the future, how my life would be different so that I have something to work forward to
  • Challenges my assumptions: e.g. When I said “I’m the only one who can do this”, Xenia challenged me with “Is there anyone else who can do it?”
  • Offers observations and perspectives: e.g. “I’m noticing you have a pattern of thinking…”
  • Holds me accountable: starts sessions with “How did the time blocking go for you”?
  • Forces next steps: e.g. “What will you take away from this session?”
  • Makes things more specific & concrete: e.g. “When exactly will you do it?”; “How would that look like”?; “Do you know your stretching routine?”
  • Provides a space for processing: giving me the pause and space to speak out loud
  • Facilitates joint brainstorming: throwing a few examples out and then saying “What else could you do?”
  • Reflects back to me: when I ramble, she reflects back the essence of what I said
  • Role models boundaries & communication: role models time management, communication, calm, and encouragement
  • Celebrates me: just knowing she is on my side and in tune with what I’m working on, and verbal affirmation


Since starting Shimmer ADHD Coaching, I can confidently say my quality of life, self-awareness, and confidence are consistently improving. I’ve fallen in love with this reflection cycle and the benefits are trickling into all corners of my life.

If any of the benefits I’ve talked about sound exciting to you, I highly recommend considering ADHD coaching (at Shimmer or elsewhere!).

Check out our testimonials to hear from other Shimmer members!

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