As I noted in a previous article, The Basics: Estate Planning In confusing times, estate planning is all about process. This approach works well for most people but for others the decision-making process is more difficult. This is especially true for both business people and people with ADHD.
Both entrepreneurs and people with ADHD make impulsive, suboptimal decisions, often choosing choices that bring an immediate, but smaller reward, rather than making a choice that produces a larger, long-term reward. This extends to planning, organizing, self-regulating and prioritizing – the basic capabilities needed to decide on a course of action. For those who have made a decision, and experienced negative consequences, they often end up with “analytical paralysis” – avoid making the decision because you are too worried about making wrong decisions similar to those you have experienced in the past. Avoiding decision making means there is no progress. Often this inaction requires someone else to decide for you. In the estate planning process, this “other person” is the state and federal government.
It is important to differentiate between risky behavior and suboptimal decision making. Risky behavior is deliberately taking more risky action. Entrepreneurs and people with ADHD are actually more dangerous than the general public. Entrepreneurs and people with ADHD are better at making quick decisions, a decision in the midst of the moment, when the future is unpredictable; And you don’t have enough time for a long and thoughtful process to find the perfect decision. They make an action-based decision and adapt to inherently unpredictable situations on the go. What both entrepreneurs and people with ADHD are asking for, when there is no crisis, is the use of a prediction-based decision-making process. In another way, they must be “bilingual” in both processes.
Outline the action-based decision-making process.
- what do you want?
- What are you willing and able to risk?
- Act quickly and calmly with the available resources and information, bringing in people you know, and with as little risk as possible.
- Are the results you want? If yes, repeat if no, then review what you want.
Outline the decision-making process based on forecasting.
- Select your decision.
- Write down what your goal is.
- Set goals that push you towards your goal.
- What goal(s) are you most likely to miss?
- Consider alternative strategies that achieve your “late target” and order each strategy:
- Is the strategy sufficient to achieve your goal?
- Is strategy necessary to achieve your goal?
- Is the strategy feasible even under current conditions?
- Is there an action plan to implement the strategy?
- Identify the risks and tradeoffs involved in your chosen strategy.
- Define and implement an action plan based on your chosen strategy.
Incorporating action-based estate planning and forecasting for both entrepreneurs and people with ADHD:
- Determine what your goal is – that’s what you need now, and how that gives you what you want in the future.
- Make plans for scenarios of what you might need to do to achieve your goal.
- Look at the immediate situation: is it urgent and important at the same time?
- Take the actions you can take now, with the resources, people, skills, and contacts you have that you are willing to put at risk, that can reduce the uncertainty of the current situation.
- Incorporate what you have learned from your actions into one of your own scenarios.
- When the crisis is alleviated, it helps you take the next step to achieve the goals of your scenario plan.
- Deal with the following emergency situation.
So here are some helpful tips for you, if you are an entrepreneur or someone with ADHD and need to do some estate planning (or any kind of decision making for that matter):
write it: Writing your goal and scenario requires thinking about the process. Remember, if it isn’t written, it doesn’t exist (at least as far as the Ten Commandments Court is concerned).
Make early decisions: In times of crisis, it is better to do something, even if it is not optimal, than to do nothing.
You have a dictator: Find someone to whom you declare your goals and objectives. Give them the right to impose strict standards from the outside.
Record what you’ve learned: When you accomplish something, record it and learn from it, good or bad.
Set a general deadline: I have a paralegal whose job is to start prodding clients long before the deadline so they can get things done.
Change your point of view. Estate planning is not about dying, it’s about living – how you want to live the rest of your life.
So, if you’re an entrepreneur or someone with ADHD (or you’ve been both) and find that the estate planning process isn’t working for you, don’t worry: There’s a process for you. If you have analysis paralysis, make a quick decision and see what you learn. If you are making rash decisions, find your dictator and let him slow down your impulses. Finally, always remember that doing something is always better than doing nothing.