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Top 6 Lessons I Would Go Back and Teach Myself (after I had just quit Adderall)

From Back to the Future, Part I

George and Marty McFly, from Back to the Future

1. Going to bed early will change your life

I know the very idea of going to bed early sounds repulsive and ludicrous to you. It sounds like an insult to your precious, precious time being free from the evil clutches of that hell you call a day job. I know you’re so used to staying up late and all night that anything before 3am is early to you. I know going to bed early is like admitting the defeat of the day. I’m not talking about going to bed at 10pm like an old person; just in the 12am-1am range.

You have know idea how much simpler it will make your life. And believe me, simple is what you want, because simple is sanity. First off, getting up in the morning gets way easier. The sound of the alarm does not come so tragically and agonizingly soon…instead you grow not to mind it so much because you were kind of waking up naturally before it even went off.

But the best part is how much consistency and routine this will add to your life. When you go to bed early on purpose, you start to get in the habit of doing things on purpose like that. You start optimizing the 5 or so hours you have between getting off work and going to sleep. Because that time is suddenly limited, you start planning it out, and that develops even more good habits.

2. In the land of the sober, the good routine is God

Your problem is that you think of a routine as something you get stuck in that is boring and hindering. That is leftover Adderall-thinking. Without Adderall, you are only as good as your routine makes you. You can use your tendency to compulsively do the same thing over and over to your advantage by creating a routine that gradually moves your life forward. Think of it like automating your success…like building a machine that you can consistently improve to output bigger and better results.

RELATED QUOTE: “Watch your thoughts, they become words. Watch your words, they become actions. Watch your actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become your character. Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”

3. A creation per day keeps the depression at bay

There is an instant cure for that overwhelming feeling of failure. Force yourself to create at least one thing per day…to make some contribution that changes the game a little..to have one little success per day. Write a blog post, submit a job application, finally organize the refrigerator so that each roommate has a shelf…whatever…anything that makes your life a little better or easier. The most important time to do this is when you don’t feel like it.

There were so many days that started out so miserable, and then got immediately better when I wrote a blog post or something. Once I noticed this connection, that “creation per day keeps the depression at bay” line occurred to me and now I literally repeat it to myself like a mantra whenever I start feeling crappy….and then I go create something and feel better. Like I’m doing today with this post.

TIP: The more you do this, the bigger and more significant the contributions/creations have to be to give you that feeling of success. That’s a good thing. Keeps you moving forward in bigger and bigger steps.


  • A contribution per day keeps the depression at bay.  (i.e., a contribution to your world).
  • A success per day keeps the depression at bay.

4. Stop trying to do your old job.

Let go. I know your mind still feels like it can still handle all those big responsibilities at work…if only you could change your role a little so that you’re directing other people instead of having to do every little task yourself. Forget all that. Forget the fact that you’ve been there forever and you know the most. Forget all the grand plans you had for your work there. You can’t do that anymore. You’re on a different path now. Let your boss know your intentions to switch careers as soon as you can. Take on as little responsibility as possible. Demote yourself. You will be getting more done for the company and will feel so much less weight on your shoulders when you go into work every day.

For me, this meant going from “lead developer” to “customer support rep”.

5. Only go out on weekends.

You need to spend the other days working on yourself and creating a good routine. For that you need complete control over your schedule. You can’t have that if every weeknight is taken up trying to invent something unique to do with your girlfriend (that your suddenly terrified of losing).

Limiting your friend/girlfriend time to just weekends will help you recover more quickly and may well save your relationship. Plus you can spend all week thinking up something really fun to do on the weekend…and have plenty of money to do it with since you’ve been staying in all week.

6. Action breaks the cycle of worry

You are going to be struck with frequent bouts of faithlessness and fear over the future not working out. There are going to be times when your new dreams seem unreachable. Big dreams often do.

When you find yourself overcome with worry and near-unbearable levels of self-doubt, take action. Do something. Do research. Google the fear in your mind and find more support than you expected. Take whatever step you can towards your goal. You’ll be shocked at how fast your worry vanishes. Action and movement is the only instant cure for worry.

Also note: Lying in bed tossing and turning and wracking your brain is pretty much garunteed to perpetuate your worry and make it seem inescapable/unsolveable. Nothing seems possible from the perspective of lying down in bed…because from that position, nothing is.

2 Responses to “Top 6 Lessons I Would Go Back and Teach Myself (after I had just quit Adderall)”

  1. Richard says:

    This is an excellent article that really has helped me cope with my constant roller coaster of emotions and motivation post-adderall.

    The “good routine” tip is key for me in that it reminds me that a good system supports my creativity, rather than stifles it as I feared.

    This website is a God-send for me and all the others out there who once felt terrified and alone in this battle for our new lives.

  2. Mike says:

    Hi Richard!

    What you said about structuring your routine to support your creativity is totally true. That should absolutely be the goal of your routine: supporting your creativity. In fact, if you don’t mind me stealing that from you, I may add it to the article at some point in the future. 🙂

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