Microdosing Psychedelics: Unveiling the Subtle Power of Small Doses

Microdosing Psych Wide

Exploring Microdosing: A Gentle Introduction to Psychedelics

Imagine tiny changes creating profound transformations. This is the essence of microdosing psychedelics, a practice that's gaining curiosity and attention far beyond the circles of experienced psychedelic users. For many, the idea of using psychedelics brings a mix of intrigue and hesitation. Anti-drug campaigns of long ago painted a picture in the minds of many young people that is hard to break free from. And then there are the legal concerns. Yet, despite these hurdles, microdosing invites an exploration in a way that's gentle, controlled, and deeply personal.

Microdosing involves taking very small amounts of substances like LSD or psilocybin mushrooms so the intense experiences associated with full doses don't happen. These “micro” doses are just enough to nudge the mind and body in subtle, often beneficial ways. Think of it as adjusting a lens on how you see and interact with the world, enhancing everything from creativity and focus to emotional balance and resilience, all without stepping too far from your comfort zone. People are able to go about their day. A microdose does not induce intoxication, hallucinating, or seeing visual disturbances (sub-perceptual).

This journey into microdosing is not about radical changes but about opening doors to new ways of thinking and feeling that are as safe. Whether you're drawn by a desire to expand your creativity, find new strategies for well-being, or simply satisfy your curiosity about psychedelics in a cautious and informed manner, you're in the right place. Let's embark on this exploration together, with open minds and a spirit of discovery, to understand how small doses can lead to significant insights.

Understanding the Basics of Microdosing

At the heart of microdosing is a simple concept: taking a tiny fraction of what's considered a recreational dose of psychedelics to explore their potential benefits without being intoxicated or hallucinating. This practice stands on the premise that these small doses, often one-tenth to one-twentieth of a typical dose, have an impact on your brain, body, and mind without inducing the intense psychedelic experiences associated with higher doses.

Microdosing has caught the attention of a wide audience, from those in creative fields seeking inspiration to professionals looking for a productivity boost, and individuals interested in personal development or alternative ways to manage mental health challenges. The substances most commonly used for microdosing include LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) and psilocybin, the active compound in magic mushrooms, however there are many other substances being researched and used throughout history. The approach and substances can vary widely, reflecting the personal nature of the practice.

The protocols for microdosing vary. Check out the Microdosing Institute for tried and true protocols that work. When I have done my own microdosing regimes and when I have worked with others on creating one for themselves, I follow a two days a week protocol. There are a couple of reasons for this:

  1. It fits my lifestyle and many of my clients' lifestyles better. My schedule is not the same day after day but it is relatively the same week after week. For people that have typical M-F jobs with a set schedule this protocol allows them to adhere without worrying about being inconsistent (especially my ADHD folks that have a tendency to lose interest when the newness of whatever they are doing wears off).
  2. More importantly, having space between microdosing days allows individuals to observe and integrate the subtle changes they experience and take advantage of the neuroplasticity benefits of microdosing psychedelics. 

The neuroplastic effect of microdosing can be a key player in shaping our brains. We can use tiny doses to help our brains to adapt and grow, making us more flexible in how we think, feel, and respond to the world. It's not just about the immediate effects but how microdosing could be tweaking the wiring under the hood.

Neural Network Connections

Neuroplasticity: Understanding the Brain's Flexibility

At its core, neuroplasticity is about the brain's amazing ability to change and adapt. It's at work when we learn a new skill, change a habit, or adjust to new circumstances. We are literally reshaping and rewiring our brains with every experience - new or old. This capacity for change stays with us our entire lives.

The beauty of neuroplasticity is evident in everyday life. It's easy to understand when we're thinking about new experiences such as learning to play an instrument, picking up a new language, or adapting to a change in a routine. Our brains are constantly forming new connections when you're doing something new but the brain also strengthens existing ones when you repeat behaviors and thoughts. Microdosing can play a role in this process, acting as a catalyst for personal development and mental health management. It offers a tool for those looking to smooth out the process of change, making it easier to adopt new habits and perspectives.

By taking tiny, non-intoxicating doses of substances like LSD or psilocybin, we can gently encourage our brain's neural pathways to grow and evolve. It's akin to fine-tuning the mind's wiring, enhancing how we think, feel, and perceive our environment without the overwhelming effects of a full psychedelic experience.

Research into psychedelics has shown that they can stimulate the brain in ways that promote neuroplasticity. This means that microdosing could help create and reinforce neural connections, making our brains more adaptable and flexible. For anyone looking to break free from old patterns or explore new ways of thinking, the implications of this are profound.

The potential of microdosing to enhance neuroplasticity goes beyond temporary, subtle shifts in mood or creativity while the effects of the microdose are active. It suggests a pathway to lasting change, contributing to long-term improvements in how we approach life's challenges and pursue personal growth. 

People suffering from PTSD, such as veterans, often struggle to find solutions that create lasting change. Traditional treatments have often not been able to help alter the deep-rooted patterns that PTSD imprints on the brain. This is where the nuanced benefits of microdosing have been showing long-lasting effects when other treatment options have failed. By harnessing the potential of neuroplasticity, microdosing offers a glimmer of hope for reshaping those patterns in a more constructive and healing manner. The gentle nudging of neural pathways through microdosing can facilitate a sustainable recovery, opening doors to new ways of coping that were previously inaccessible, and ultimately having a profound, long-lasting effect.

The transformative power of microdosing, rooted in its ability to enhance neuroplasticity, is not only for people with treatment resistant mental health conditions. In fact there are countless people that have reported having positive effects from microdosing for a wide range of conditions from cluster headaches to ADHD. 

As we continue to delve into the mysteries of the brain and the potential of psychedelics, microdosing stands out as a promising tool for not only those seeking to overcome mental and physical health challenges, but also for anyone eager to explore the depths of their own minds and unlock new realms of possibility.

As we navigate the intricacies of neuroplasticity and the nuances of microdosing, we are reminded of our inherent ability to adapt, grow, and transform our lives from within. Microdosing psychedelics, with its subtle yet impactful influence on our brain's wiring, offers a unique opportunity to engage with this change in a deliberate and mindful way.

The Individuality of Psychedelic Experiences

Every person's brain is a unique landscape, with its own patterns of connectivity and activity. Within this landscape, seven major brain networks play crucial roles in everything from our thought processes to how we perceive the world around us. One of these, the Default Mode Network (DMN), is particularly notable for its involvement in self-referential thoughts and the "mind wandering" that happens when we're not focused on the outside world.

Research shows that psychedelics shift activity from the DMN to other networks, resulting in a different distribution of energy directed at the different brain networks. It is this shift that creates the changes in perception, thought, and emotion. When people hear about (or experience) a large psychedelic dose experience, these changes in perception are quite noticeable allowing for a more expansive awareness of things the brain may filter out normally.

The effects of psychedelics are not one-size-fits-all; they can vary significantly from one substance to another and from one individual to the next. For example, while LSD might enhance sensory perception and emotional openness, psilocybin could lead to profound spiritual experiences or deep introspective insights. This variance underscores the deeply personal nature of psychedelic experiences, influenced by both the biochemical makeup of the substance and the unique neural architecture of the individual.

Anecdotal evidence plays a vital role in our understanding of these individual experiences. While controlled studies offer valuable insights into the general effects of psychedelics, personal stories and subjective reports illuminate the vast spectrum of possible outcomes. These narratives help to paint a fuller picture of what microdosing can do, highlighting the diverse ways in which these substances can impact mental health, creativity, and personal growth.

The individuality of psychedelic experiences is a reminder of the complexity of the human mind and the potential for psychedelics to act as tools for exploration and transformation. Microdosing offers a safer, more controlled way to explore psychedelics' transformative effects. This approach lets individuals experience the benefits—like increased creativity and emotional insight—without the overwhelming intensity of a full dose. It's about fine-tuning the experience to the individual's needs, providing a gentle introduction to new ways of thinking and perceiving.

By adjusting doses, microdosing respects each person's unique mental landscape, minimizing risks while unlocking potential for positive change. It's an accessible path for those curious about the cognitive and emotional shifts psychedelics can provoke, without stepping too far from comfort zones.

In essence, microdosing bridges the gap between deep psychedelic exploration and everyday mental health and personal growth. It highlights the diverse needs of our brains, advocating for a personalized approach to exploration and well-being.

Microdosing and Neurodivergence: Navigating Diverse Brain Landscapes

Neurodivergence represents the myriad of ways brains can function differently from the so-called neurotypical norms. Conditions like ADHD are not characterized by a lack of ability, but by a distinct pattern of energy allocation within the brain. This unique wiring can lead to remarkable strengths, such as heightened creativity and the ability to think outside the box. However, conventional environments often aren't designed to accommodate these differences, leading to challenges that can significantly tax neurodivergent individuals' mental and emotional resources.

For those with ADHD and similar neurodivergent conditions, staying in the Default Mode Network (DMN) — a mental state often associated with rumination, anxiety, and daydreaming — can be particularly draining. This constant expenditure of energy on defense mechanisms can leave little energy for tasks requiring executive function, such as planning, focusing, and managing emotions.

Microdosing psychedelics presents a promising avenue for alleviating some of these energetic demands. By lowering the threshold required to shift from the DMN to more executive modes of thinking, microdosing can help neurodivergent individuals harness their natural strengths without the overwhelming stress and fatigue. The potential for increased neuroplasticity through microdosing means not just temporary relief but the development of more resilient neural pathways, facilitating easier transitions into states of higher cognitive functioning and emotional processing.

This shift doesn't just mitigate the challenges of neurodivergence; it leverages its assets. The enhanced neuroplasticity encouraged by microdosing can empower neurodivergent individuals to rewire their brains in ways that support more balanced and effective engagement with the world. It opens up a pathway to not only cope with but thrive in environments designed for neurotypical minds.

Microdosing is a tool that can be used for better integration and function within a world that often overlooks the unique needs of neurodivergent minds. By providing a way to reduce stress and enhance focus, microdosing can help preserve the innate advantages of neurodivergent thinking while mitigating its associated energy costs. In doing so, it champions a more inclusive understanding of mental diversity, acknowledging the value of all cognitive styles in enriching our collective human experience.

Stress, Trauma, and Healing in Modern Society

In today's fast-paced world, stress has become a universal companion, and traumatic experiences are, unfortunately, all too common. It's hard to find someone whose life remains untouched by stress or the echoes of past trauma. These experiences shape us in profound ways, influencing not just our mental health but our physical well-being too.

When we delve into the connections between our minds, bodies, and the environments we navigate, a critical truth emerges: unresolved stress is the silent architect of discomfort and disease. It's the thread that weaves through various mental and physical health challenges, often lying at their core.

The Default Mode Network (DMN) plays a significant role in this narrative. Known for its activity during mind-wandering and self-referential thoughts, the DMN is also linked to the rumination often associated with stress and trauma. When we're caught in a loop of stressful thoughts or traumatic memories, the DMN is in overdrive, reinforcing patterns that keep us tethered to our past and apprehensive about our future.

Emerging research underscores the impact of stress on healing and recovery. Stress doesn't just hinder our mental health; it can delay physical healing, disrupt immune function, and exacerbate conditions from heart disease to diabetes. In essence, managing stress isn't just about feeling better mentally; it's about fostering a healthier, more resilient body.

The holistic benefits of microdosing—reducing stress while increasing neuroplasticity—highlight its potential as a complementary approach in the broader landscape of health and wellness. This approach aligns with the understanding that true healing encompasses both the psychological and physiological, offering a more comprehensive path toward well-being.

Microdosing serves not only as a method to reduce stress but also as a doorway to deeper self-connection and spirituality. By alleviating the burdens of stress, microdosing clears a path toward pleasure and joy, allowing us to reorient our focus towards what truly enriches our lives. This shift from a pain-avoidance strategy to one that embraces the pursuit of joy can be transformative, retraining our brains to seek out and cherish the moments that bring us genuine happiness and fulfillment.

In embracing microdosing as part of a comprehensive strategy for dealing with stress and trauma, we not only open new avenues for healing but also rediscover the power of joy as a fundamental component of health. This journey invites a profound exploration of how altering our brain's response to stress can lead to significant changes in our overall health and well-being, bridging the gap between our psychological state, physical health, and spiritual fulfillment.

The Transformative Power of Microdosing

It turns out, those tiny doses pack a punch, opening doors to understanding ourselves and how we heal in ways we might not have expected. Microdosing is an invitation to discover unexpected paths to joy and well-being amidst the hustle of everyday life.

Healing isn't only about fixing what's broken. It's also about embracing the journey, finding joy in the small moments, and appreciating the little things that life throws our way.

Here's to the small shifts that lead to big changes. To healing, to happiness, and to the beauty of being human.


Calder, A.E., Hasler, G. Towards an understanding of psychedelic-induced neuroplasticity. Neuropsychopharmacol. 48, 104–112 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41386-022-01389-z

Cameron, L. P., Benson, C. J., DeFelice, B. C., Fiehn, O., & Olson, D. E. (2019). Chronic, Intermittent Microdoses of the Psychedelic N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) Produce Positive Effects on Mood and Anxiety in Rodents. ACS chemical neuroscience10(7), 3261–3270. https://doi.org/10.1021/acschemneuro.8b00692

Vanderijst, L., Hever, F., Buot, A. et al. Psilocybin-assisted therapy for severe alcohol use disorder: protocol for a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, 7-month parallel-group phase II superiority trial. BMC Psychiatry 24, 77 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-024-05502-y

Allen, J., Dames, S.S., Foldi, C.J. et al. Psychedelics for acquired brain injury: a review of molecular mechanisms and therapeutic potential. Mol Psychiatry (2024). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41380-023-02360-0

Hasler G. (2020). Toward specific ways to combine ketamine and psychotherapy in treating depression. CNS spectrums25(3), 445–447. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1092852919001007

Griffiths, R. R., Johnson, M. W., Carducci, M. A., Umbricht, A., Richards, W. A., Richards, B. D., Cosimano, M. P., & Klinedinst, M. A. (2016). Psilocybin produces substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer: A randomized double-blind trial. Journal of psychopharmacology (Oxford, England)30(12), 1181–1197. https://doi.org/10.1177/0269881116675513

Ross, S., Bossis, A., Guss, J., Agin-Liebes, G., Malone, T., Cohen, B., Mennenga, S. E., Belser, A., Kalliontzi, K., Babb, J., Su, Z., Corby, P., & Schmidt, B. L. (2016). Rapid and sustained symptom reduction following psilocybin treatment for anxiety and depression in patients with life-threatening cancer: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of psychopharmacology (Oxford, England)30(12), 1165–1180. https://doi.org/10.1177/0269881116675512

Singleton, S.P., Luppi, A.I., Carhart-Harris, R.L. et al. Receptor-informed network control theory links LSD and psilocybin to a flattening of the brain’s control energy landscape. Nat Commun 13, 5812 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-33578-1

Living with ADHD can often feel like navigating a fast-moving river, where the currents of thoughts, distractions, and impulses threaten to steer you off course. What if there was a simple way for you to stay on track? Finding your keystones—those core values and principles that define and ground you—can be like discovering a compass that helps guide you through the uncertain waters of life with purpose and clarity.

Values for a Company vs Values for a Person

Ever been on a website that has a clearly defined mission statement? There’s a reason for that. Mission statements articulate the essence of a company's ethos, guiding its direction and defining its standpoints. This clarity sets the tone, enriching interactions and fostering connections between employees and customers. Yet, the concept of articulating such foundational elements isn't often applied on a personal level in traditional education. Instead, many find themselves adrift, attempting to navigate their path by mirroring others, only to discover that what works for someone else doesn’t work for them, especially when you have ADHD. “Great” advice is often only great for people with neuro-typical minds, securely attached, and without adverse childhood experiences (trauma). This leads to cycles of vision boarding (or other kinds of visualization techniques) without results. 

The missing piece is having clearly defined values. For individuals with ADHD, understanding and applying this concept becomes even more crucial. The neurobiological differences between ADHD and neurotypical individuals mean that traditional methods of finding focus and direction might not always be effective. This is where keystones come into play. Keystones are the words you choose to define who you are and how you are going to show up in the world. Your keystones not only help to guide decision-making but also become an anchor to manage mental and emotional energies.

Priming the Mind for Success with Keystones

The emphasis on "clearly defined" values is not arbitrary. Words carry weight, and the meanings we attach to them often operate below our conscious awareness, influencing our perceptions and behaviors from the shadows of our subconscious. This programming influences our perceptions and behaviors in ways we may not fully realize.  To change them, you need to dive beneath the surface, examining the foundational thoughts associated with the language we use.

Consider the word "abundance," a common word people use in manifestation circles. When I hear someone use that word as an affirmation, if I have the time, I'll ask them to explain what abundance truly means to them. Most people don't know indicating a lack of personal connection to the word and not having a defined concept of abundance. 

An example that comes to mind is when a client who believed only selecting her keystones was sufficient. And you can probably guess what one of her words was... yep, "abundance." Of course since she was my client, we went deeper to uncover the mixed signals her subconscious associated with her chosen words. Upon deeper exploration, she realized her association with "abundance" equated to possessing lots of things. And the kicker was that she realized she had been manifesting her subconscious understanding of abundance… she was living in clutter.

The process of consciously defining your keystones does more than just clarify your values; it primes your mind by bringing subconscious thoughts to the surface and aligning them with your conscious objectives. This priming is critical, especially for individuals with ADHD, as it helps to navigate the often overwhelming stream of stimuli with intention and purpose. By thoroughly defining what each chosen word truly means, you lay the groundwork for a mindset that is prepared to recognize and pursue opportunities that align with your deepest values.

When you define "abundance" (or whatever words you choose) not just as an abstract concept but as a personal and meaningful keystone, you shift your perception and, consequently, your reality. This shift is not about mere positive thinking but about creating a powerful mental framework that supports your goals and reflects your true self.

How to focus with ADHD: Harnessing the Reticular Activating System (RAS)

At the core of why keystones are so effective for individuals with ADHD lies in the function of the Reticular Activating System (RAS). This network of neurons within the brain acts as a gatekeeper, filtering the vast array of stimuli we encounter and deciding what information gets attention based on what we consciously or subconsciously deem important. 

Imagine you're in a crowded coffee shop trying to read a book that you are eager to finish. Despite the surrounding noise—people talking, the sound of the espresso machine, background music—you find yourself able to concentrate on reading. This is the RAS at work, filtering out the extraneous noise and allowing you to focus on the task at hand. It selectively tunes into the pages of your book while tuning out other stimuli.

Tsd Coffee Shop Ras

By consciously defining keystones, you essentially program the RAS to be attuned to the things you want to be focused on. This simplifies decision-making as your brain is predisposed to notice and focus on the thoughts and actions you have already defined for your keystones, guiding your attention toward making decisions that move you forward rather than feeling stuck in overwhelm or analysis paralysis.

Moreover, the science behind staying focused, particularly how dopamine plays a role in motivation and attention, intertwines with the RAS's functionality. The RAS is one of the largest dopamine producing areas of the brain. If you suffer from ADHD symptoms frequently, dopamine production is at the heart of the problem. 

When your actions and environment reflect your keystones, it can enhance dopamine responses, reinforcing focus on tasks and goals aligned with your big vision for your future. This creates a helpful cycle, where your defined keystones not only guide your focus but also boost your motivation and satisfaction in pursuing them.

Reducing ADHD Symptoms Through Keystones

The influence of clearly defined keystones extends far beyond mere focus and filtering; it profoundly impacts our executive functions and emotional responses. Research within psychology and neuroscience illustrates that aligning daily life with one's core values can markedly improve emotional well-being, bolster cognitive flexibility, and enhance motivation—areas where individuals with ADHD often face significant hurdles.

Enhancing Emotional Regulation through Keystones

Living in harmony with one's keystones not only fosters a greater sense of self-integrity and coherence but also significantly enhances emotional regulation. This alignment stabilizes emotional states, enabling individuals to navigate through challenges with resilience and an adaptive stress response. Particularly for those with ADHD, where emotional dysregulation can significantly impact daily functioning, the integration of keystones into daily routines and habits provides some structure for managing emotions more effectively. This leads to reduced levels of stress, anxiety, and depression, while acting as a protective buffer against emotional outbursts.

Fostering Intrinsic Motivation through Keystones

Intrinsic motivation, the internal drive to do things, stands at the core of transforming how individuals with ADHD approach their goals and daily tasks. Imagine Sarah, a graphic designer with ADHD, who often found herself waiting to the last minute to complete her projects. The fear of disappointing her clients would spur her into action. When Sarah identified her keystones—creativity, connection, and growth—she experienced a profound shift. No longer was her motivation tethered to the fear of letting her clients down. Instead, Sarah found herself driven by the joy of creation, the fulfillment from meaningful collaborations, and the excitement of personal and professional development. This transition from extrinsic reliance to intrinsic motivation allowed Sarah to engage with her work authentically and passionately, transforming her challenges into opportunities for innovation and resilience.

By anchoring oneself in keystones, individuals like Sarah pivot towards a life where motivation comes from within, instead of seeking approval from outside themself leading to a grounded sense of self that creates forward movement. Setbacks become less about failure and more about growth, fostering a resilient and motivated mindset essential for navigating life's ebbs and flows with ADHD.

Improving Executive Function Through Keystones

Executive function, orchestrated largely by the prefrontal cortex, acts as the brain's command center for managing tasks like attention, memory, and impulse control. In individuals with ADHD, shifting to this kind of thinking is often difficult due to imbalances in the brain’s dopamine system, leading to difficulties in managing these executive tasks. Dopamine is crucial for prioritizing tasks, maintaining focus, and feeling motivated by achievements. Keystones, by providing a clear set of value-driven behaviors and thoughts, directly affect this neurochemical balance, offering a foundation upon which individuals can enhance their executive functioning.

When actions and long-term aspirations are aligned with personal keystones, it's more than goal-setting; it's engaging in a deliberate practice that reinforces dopamine production in a manner conducive to bolstering executive function. Take Alex, for example, a writer grappling with the common ADHD challenge of starting and finishing projects. By identifying "expression," "consistency," and "engagement" as his keystones, Alex approaches each writing session as an opportunity to transform tasks he usually procrastinated into meaningful expressions of himself. This alignment not only reduces stress and decision fatigue but also leverages the neuroplastic capabilities of the brain, particularly in the prefrontal cortex, to foster pathways that enhance focus, planning, and task initiation.

Nervous System Regulation Through Keystones

The journey of managing ADHD and enhancing executive function extends beyond the brain's cognitive processes to encompass the broader nervous system, including the critical role of the vagus nerve in regulating our stress responses. The vagus nerve serves as a key component of the parasympathetic nervous system—the body's counterbalance to the fight-or-flight responses of the sympathetic nervous system. Effective regulation of these systems is paramount in managing ADHD symptoms, as stress and anxiety can exacerbate challenges with focus, impulsivity, and emotional regulation.

Keystones (aka fostering a mindset aligned with personal values and aspirations) can significantly influence nervous system regulation. Engaging in behaviors and thoughts that reflect one's keystones activates the parasympathetic nervous system, encouraging states of calm and relaxation that counteract the hyperarousal often experienced by individuals with ADHD. This shift towards parasympathetic dominance reduces stress and anxiety levels, creating a physiological environment conducive to improved focus and emotional balance.

For instance, through the process of creating your keystones you identify thoughts and actions that align with your core beliefs. These behaviors (compassionate thoughts, mindful actions) can stimulate the vagus nerve, enhancing its tone and thereby bolstering the body's resilience to stress. This enhanced vagal tone supports a more balanced nervous system, enabling individuals with ADHD to navigate their daily lives with greater emotional equilibrium and reduced susceptibility to stress-induced distractions. 

Basically, what I’m saying is that by consciously thinking about things ahead of time, you’re more likely to do them even when you’re stressed because you have mentally rehearsed things. So instead of being stressed and repeating habits that you do when you’re stressed, such as productive procrastination, you don’t go into your stress response and instead activate the parasympathetic nervous system. The more time you spend less stressed and more relaxed, the less time you spend anxious or depressed.

Through the strategic definition and integration of keystones, individuals with ADHD can harness the power of their nervous system to support cognitive processes and emotional regulation, laying the groundwork for a life characterized by greater focus, fulfillment, and resilience.

Keystones help you thrive with ADHD

When you are living with ADHD symptoms, the journey towards personal growth and improved functionality hinges on our ability to understand and leverage our own neurobiology. Keystones are not just as a fun thing to do but a practical, neuroscience-backed tool for transformation. Through the process of identifying and integrating these keystones into our lives, we unlock a powerful mechanism for priming our minds, focusing our attention, regulating our nervous systems, and enhancing executive function.

The stories of individuals like Sarah and Alex illuminate the transformative potential of living in alignment with our keystones. They demonstrate that when we shift our motivation from external sources to the intrinsic values that define us, we not only find greater satisfaction and joy in the things we do but also cultivate ease in living despite the challenges.

This isn't merely about adopting a new set of habits or trying to fit into a neurotypical mold. It's about embracing our unique neurological landscape and using it to our advantage. By consciously defining our keystones and allowing them to guide our decisions and actions, we create a life that is not only manageable but truly fulfilling. We move from a state of constant reaction to one of intentional action, where each choice is a step towards realizing our true potential.

Remember, the path to managing ADHD effectively and achieving personal growth is not linear. It's a journey of exploration, understanding, and, most importantly, compassion for oneself. Your keystones are your compass on this journey, offering you direction when you feel lost and providing a sense of stability amidst the chaos.

You're not alone on this journey, and I’ve done the research, created a Keystones workbook and course and because I know how simple and effective it is, I give it away for free. 

By consciously choosing and living by your keystones, you're not just managing ADHD symptoms; you're setting the foundation for a life of purpose, fulfillment, and achievement.

Keystones Workbook Course


Singh I, Filipe AM, Bard I, Bergey M, Baker L. Globalization and cognitive enhancement: emerging social and ethical challenges for ADHD clinicians. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2013 Sep;15(9):385. doi: 10.1007/s11920-013-0385-0. PMID: 23933975.


Martin, Andrew J., Emma C. Burns and Rebecca J. Collie. “ADHD, personal and interpersonal agency, and achievement: Exploring links from a social cognitive theory perspective.” Contemporary Educational Psychology 50 (2017): 13-22.

Shigemoto, Yuki, Blakely E. Low, Dominika Borowa and Christine Robitschek. “Function of Personal Growth Initiative on Posttraumatic Growth, Posttraumatic Stress, and Depression Over and Above Adaptive and Maladaptive Rumination.” Journal of clinical psychology 73 9 (2017): 1126-1145 .

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), with its distinctive neural pathways, presents a divergent landscape that influences an individual's capacity to navigate attention, organization, and emotional regulation. While ADHD presents unique challenges, it also brings forth a set of cognitive strengths that can be harnessed for success, particularly in the realm of entrepreneurship and goal setting.

Brain Networks The Success Doula

Neurobiological Aspects of ADHD

Understanding the neurobiological aspects of ADHD is crucial for individuals to recognize that the executive dysfunction they experience is not a deficit or disorder, but rather a different way of thinking. ADHD is characterized by differences in brain structure and function, particularly in areas related to attention, executive function, and emotional regulation. 

Individuals with ADHD may experience variations in the levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine. In particular dopamine plays an essential role in transitioning from the Default Mode Network to the Central Executive Network and how individuals with ADHD process information and engage in goal-directed behavior.

The Default Mode Network (DMN) is a collection of interconnected brain regions that are active during resting states. It is largely responsible for self-reflection, introspection, and inner thought processes. The DMN is often referred to as the “Task Negative” network, as it is active whenever an individual is not engaged in some sort of goal-oriented task. This network is responsible for facilitating default tasks that do not require active thinking, such as daydreaming, mind-wandering, and memory retrieval. The DMN is believed to be the foundation of our sense of self and plays a crucial role in our daily behaviors by retrieving memories and taking actions based on the outcomes of those memories.

On the other hand, the Central Executive Network (CEN) is a set of brain regions that become active when an individual is engaged in goal-oriented behavior. It is the network responsible for executive functions, which are cognitive abilities that allow us to manage and organize our behavior. The CEN is often referred to as the “Task Positive” network, as it helps individuals complete their to-do lists and engage in logical information processing. This network is the foundation of how individuals interact with the external world and is crucial for sustaining attention and detecting stimuli in the environment.

When our senses detect something in our environment that we should pay attention to, the salient network (also known as the attention network) shifts the brain’s focus from self-referential thoughts towards external goals. The shift requires dopamine. 

If there is not enough dopamine in the brain, the ability to switch from the default mode network (DMN) to the Central Executive Network (CEN) is hindered if not impossible. To the outside observer, it might look like someone can’t stay focused or lacks motivation, but in reality, this represents a fundamental difference in how the ADHD brain manages and allocates attention and energy. This understanding is vital, not only in reducing the stigma associated with ADHD but also in tailoring approaches to productivity and goal achievement that align with this unique neurobiological makeup.

Goal Setting Brain Networks Dmn Cen Sn Brain Illustration The Success Doula

Research from West Virginia University has shed light on the cognitive advantages of individuals with ADHD in entrepreneurship, challenging traditional views of ADHD as a deficit and highlighting the unique cognitive strengths possessed by individuals with ADHD. Associate Professor Nancy McIntyre’s research emphasizes the development of “resource-induced coping heuristics,” where individuals with ADHD effectively manage and utilize vast amounts of information, potentially leading to entrepreneurial success [1] . 

Individuals with ADHD possess a unique blend of curiosity, creativity, and innovation, which are often key drivers of success. This creativity and innovation, combined with their predisposition to speedy cognitive processing and quick decisions, enable individuals with ADHD to continually scan their environments and swiftly shift their attention from old data to new. Moreover, their high degree of adaptability allows them to change course when necessary, challenge their own assumptions, and double-check their comprehension about a problem or task. These attributes collectively contribute to the entrepreneurial potential of individuals with ADHD, challenging traditional views and highlighting the cognitive advantages they possess in the realm of entrepreneurship and beyond[1].

Challenges in Goal Setting for Individuals with ADHD

Individuals with ADHD face unique challenges in setting and achieving goals, often due to the neurobiological underpinnings of their condition. These challenges can manifest in various ways, significantly impacting one's ability to pursue and attain personal and professional objectives.

Productive Procrastination 

Productive procrastination, a common experience for many individuals with ADHD, involves engaging in seemingly productive activities that are unrelated to their primary goals and intentions. Imagine needing to work on an important project for your business, such as writing the content for the sales page of a new program you’re launching. The overwhelming importance of the task can lead to intense feelings of stress and uncertainty. This stress may stem from a fear of failure, a lack of confidence in one’s abilities, a deep-seated concern about not meeting the expectations of being a successful entrepreneur, or a thousand other unhelpful thoughts. This internal pressure can create a sense of overwhelm and contribute to a subconscious avoidance of the task at hand.

Imagine you need to do an important project for your business, such as writing the content for the sales page of the new program you're launching (task positive. You are super excited about the new project. It is fully aligned with your keystones and the big vision you have for your business and life.

As you open ChatGPT to start working on your content, you remember that you wanted to learn how to use ChatGPT to create an image for your blog post about your new program. So you go to YouTube, do a few searches and 2 hours later you have a decent image and a half written blog post. 

While this activity may have some value, it ultimately serves as a distraction from the primary task at hand. Subsequently, you might find yourself drawn to other seemingly productive tasks, such as folding laundry or organizing your workspace, under the guise of creating a conducive environment for working on the sales page. This pattern of engaging in secondary tasks to avoid the primary one is productive procrastination.

It’s important to recognize that productive procrastination is not simply a matter of poor time management or lack of discipline. Instead, it is often a manifestation of the stress response cycle, particularly in individuals with ADHD. When faced with a task of overwhelming importance, the stress response can lead to a decrease in energy available to handle the situation effectively. This can result in a tendency to engage in activities that provide a sense of accomplishment or control, even if they are not directly related to the primary task.

Moreover, productive procrastination can be exacerbated by the unique cognitive profile of individuals with ADHD. The constant influx of information and the predisposition to rapid cognitive processing can contribute to a pattern of shifting attention from one task to another, leading to difficulty in maintaining focus on the primary goal. This cycle of avoidance and distraction can hinder progress on important tasks, despite engaging in seemingly productive activities.

Analysis Paralysis

Analysis paralysis is a common challenge experienced by individuals, particularly those with ADHD, where the individual becomes stuck in a state of overthinking and uncertainty, unable to decide on the best course of action. 

This often stems from a fear of making the wrong decision or from being overwhelmed by the possibilities. The “Freeze” stress response, or analysis paralysis, is an active state of stress where the person knows they are stressed and overwhelmed, yet they struggle to take action. The lack of dopamine to facilitate the transition from the default mode network to task-positive thinking further exacerbates this state, making it challenging to shift focus and engage in decisive action [2] [12] .

For example, imagine needing to make a crucial decision for your business, such as choosing the marketing strategy for your new program launch. As you sit down to evaluate the options, you find yourself overwhelmed by the multitude of possibilities and the fear of making the wrong choice. This state of heightened uncertainty and overthinking prevents you from taking decisive action, leaving you feeling stuck and unable to move forward.

In this state of analysis paralysis, the individual experiences a heightened level of self-referential thinking. Also known as self-referential cognition, refers to the process of focusing on oneself, one’s own experiences, emotions, and thoughts. It involves interpreting external events and information in relation to oneself, often leading to a heightened self-awareness and introspection. This type of thinking can be characterized by a strong focus on personal experiences, beliefs, and emotions, and it often involves evaluating oneself in comparison to others or to certain standards.

In the context of analysis paralysis and ADHD, self-referential thinking can contribute to overthinking and rumination, leading to a heightened level of self-criticism and self-doubt. Individuals experiencing analysis paralysis may find themselves caught in a cycle of self-referential thoughts, where they continuously evaluate their own abilities, decisions, and potential outcomes, often leading to a sense of being stuck and unable to move forward.

The unique cognitive profile of individuals with ADHD, characterized by rapid cognitive processing and difficulty in maintaining focus, can further exacerbate the challenges associated with shifting focus and engaging in decisive action. Recognizing the underlying factors contributing to analysis paralysis can empower individuals to develop tailored strategies for managing their cognitive responses and effectively addressing their primary goals and intentions.

Future Fantasizing aka Maladaptive Daydreaming

Future fantasizing, also known as maladaptive daydreaming, involves indulging in elaborate and vivid fantasies about an extraordinary life without considering the practical steps needed to achieve those aspirations. It often entails immersing oneself in a rich inner world, neglecting the current reality and responsibilities. For instance, it could involve spending hours searching on Pinterest or scrolling through Instagram, daydreaming about the future and all the things one will do once their goals are achieved.

Dreaming of fun, exciting things in the future feels good. This behavior can lead to a false sense of accomplishment and fulfillment without taking tangible steps toward actualizing those dreams. Moreover, future fantasizing can contribute to toxic positivity, where individuals focus solely on positive thoughts and dismiss or invalidate any negative emotions or challenges. This can create an unrealistic and unsustainable mindset, leading to a lack of motivation to address real-life tasks and responsibilities.

The role of dopamine is crucial in this context. Low levels of dopamine can keep individuals in a daydreaming state, preventing them from transitioning to task-positive actions and productive thinking. This can hinder their ability to focus on present tasks and engage in goal-oriented behavior, ultimately impacting their productivity and overall well-being.

When it comes to setting goals, having a habit of future fantasizing makes it difficult to set realistic goals particularly because the needed details to accomplish the goals are usually missing. In the world of productivity, people are often told to create SMART goals (Specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and timely) but nearly every part of setting a SMART goal is unrealistic for someone with ADHD. 

However, having a clear understanding of your big vision is essential in creating goals. Luckily, with a little practice and direction, someone with ADHD will excel at seeing the possibilities in the future and can use intrinsic motivation to stay on track towards achieving their goals. 

Dopamine Chasing and Time Blindness

Often called “Shiny Object Syndrome”, dopamine chasing is a common challenge for people with ADHD. This condition is characterized by an insatiable pursuit of newness—be it a groundbreaking idea, a hobby, or a business venture—often at the expense of current commitments and responsibilities. But what exactly propels this relentless search for the novel, and how can those with ADHD navigate this terrain?

You probably guessed it by now… dopamine! Well, the lack of dopamine. 

For entrepreneurs and creatives with ADHD, this need to explore new things can be a double-edged sword. On one side, it fosters innovation, resilience, and the ability to think outside the box—traits invaluable in the entrepreneurial world. On the flip side, it can lead to a cycle of unfinished projects, missed deadlines, and a pervasive sense of dissatisfaction. The thrill of the new often overshadows the commitment required to see tasks through to completion.

The impact of low dopamine levels on time perception is significant, as the constant seeking of dopamine-inducing activities can lead to unrealistic time perception. Low dopamine levels disturb the connectivity within and between regions of the DMN, specifically the medial prefrontal cortex and the posterior cingulate cortex. This can result in a disconnect between the perception of time and the actual time required for goal-oriented behavior and task completion 

The interplay between dopamine-seeking activities, time perception, and goal setting in individuals with ADHD underscores the need to consider the impact of dopamine deficiency on time-related tasks and the formulation of realistic goals. 

Tailored Approach to Goal Setting for Individuals with ADHD

Navigating the landscape of ADHD requires a nuanced understanding of its challenges, but it also calls for innovative strategies that capitalize on the unique strengths of a neurodivergent mind. The key to successful goal setting lies not in fighting against ADHD but working with it. Here’s how:

Structured and Flexible: Creating a strict schedule with very little room for distractions or changes isn’t going to work. Not having enough structure and routines isn’t going to work either. Spending time to create and develop an ideal weekly schedule and a minimal schedule with a realistic timeline will help you stay on track.

Focus on Wins: Celebrating small victories provides little boosts of dopamine and keeps the momentum going while building confidence in one’s ability to achieve bigger objectives.

Leverage Hyperfocus: While ADHD can make it challenging to sustain attention, it also allows for periods of intense focus, known as hyperfocus. Identify areas of strong interest or passion and align your goals with these areas to take advantage of this unique state of concentration.

Create a Supportive Environment: Surround yourself with people who understand and support your journey. Whether it's a mentor, coach, or peer group, having accountability partners can provide encouragement and remind you of your goals when distractions arise.

Neuro Reprogramming: Our limiting beliefs and self-talk can sabotage our goals before we even start.  By becoming aware of disempowering stories and reframing them, we can rewire our brain's neural pathways in support of our goals.

Refine and Reflect: Regularly review your goals and the strategies you’ve employed to meet them. Reflecting on what works and what doesn’t allows for continuous refinement of your approach, making each attempt more effective than the last.

A New Perspective on Goal Setting with ADHD

By recognizing the strengths inherent in ADHD, such as creativity, resilience, and the ability to think outside the box, individuals can harness these qualities for success. The journey toward achieving one’s goals with ADHD is not about adhering to conventional methods but about finding and refining strategies that align with one’s unique cognitive style.

By shifting the narrative from one of deficit to one of difference, we open up a world of possibilities where the ADHD neurodivergent mind is not a barrier but a bridge to achieving remarkable goals.

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Goal Setting with ADHD Checklist


  1. Lanivich, S.E.Moore, C. and McIntyre, N. (2024), "The effects of neurodiversity on cognitive attributes of entrepreneurs", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJEBR-12-2022-1079
  2. Franklin, M. S., Mrazek, M. D., Anderson, C. L., Johnston, C., Smallwood, J., Kingstone, A., & Schooler, J. W. (2017). Tracking Distraction: The Relationship Between Mind-Wandering, Meta-Awareness, and ADHD Symptomatology. Journal of Attention Disorders, 21(6), 475-486. https://doi.org/10.1177/1087054714543494
  3. Weissenberger, Simon & Schönová, Kateřina & Büttiker, Pascal & Fazio, Raffaele & Sebalo Vnukova, Martina & Stefano, George & Ptacek, Radek. (2021). Time Perception is a Focal Symptom of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Adults. Medical Science Monitor. 27. 10.12659/MSM.933766.
  4. Theodor-Katz, N., Somer, E., Hesseg, R. M., & Soffer-Dudek, N. (2022). Could immersive daydreaming underlie a deficit in attention? The prevalence and characteristics of maladaptive daydreaming in individuals with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 78, 2309–2328. https://doi.org/10.1002/jclp.23355
  5. Sônego, M., Meller, M., Massuti, R., Campani, F., Amaro, J., Barbosa, C., & Rohde, L. A.. (2021). Exploring the association between attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and entrepreneurship. Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry, 43(2), 174–180. https://doi.org/10.1590/1516-4446-2020-0898

The human mind is an incredibly complex and powerful thing. Our minds are not just our brains, but rather a combination of many different things that work together to create something much more than the sum of its parts. The three types of minds: conscious, subconscious, and unconscious each play a part in our functioning lives.

Consciousness defined simply is awareness. When you are able to be mindful and recognize that you are thinking about something or someone that is our conscious mind. The conscious mind is incredibly important, as it is our ability to be aware of our thoughts and feelings that allows us to interact with the world in a meaningful way.

Most people use their conscious mind when they are thinking about their future, creating a vision board, or planning out their goals because the conscious mind is active when we are being creative. It is the part of our mind that holds our dreams and desires.

We are not conscious all the time but the unconscious mind is recording every moment of every day. This allows us to function in life. It's the reason we're able to do complicated things that require multiple simultaneous processes like drive a car or type.

The unconscious mind is always taking in information from the environment. For example, when you are asleep, your unconscious mind is still aware of everything that is happening. It allows you to sleep on a bed without falling off yet wake up when there is an emergency.

But unlike the conscious mind, all of the moments that are recorded through the unconscious mind are not accessible through your memories. Instead the subconscious mind acts as the bridge between consciousness and unconsciousness.

The subconscious is not always active but when it does become activated, it will make its presence known by entering your thoughts like an intrusive voice or idea without warning (usually). It is the driver of the reactive thoughts we have to events. All the negative talk and self-doubt comes from your subconscious.

It is interpreting the memories of past events of your life (even the ones stored in the unconscious mind) and assigning meaning to everything. This meaning making aspect of the subconscious is how we develop feelings about things. Your subconscious reactions and thoughts are what keep you from taking the action you consciously want to take. Your subconscious is the part that of your mind that reinforces your self doubts and reduce self confidence. To create changes in your life, you must engage in activities that help you alter the subconscious brain patterns.

Mindfulness is the key to switch from reactive subconscious thinking into creative conscious thinking. Meditation is not the only way to achieve mindfulness. Although it is a very useful tool, it is just one tool among many that help you learn how to be mindful.

The Unstuckable Method that I write about in my book "Get Unstuckable" and guide people through in the Unstuckable Membership program is another method that teaches you to be mindful. If you do the Unstuckable Method each week, you learn how to gain control of your subconscious thoughts in a simple yet effective method. While it was designed to help you be productive, it was based on neuroscience principles that work at rewiring your subconscious.

By becoming more mindful, we can access our conscious mind so that we can create a life by design instead of depending on our subconscious to drive our actions.

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