stage 11

Get on with life

We have now looked at a variety of factors what will help us over come the things that are stopping us from blossoming. However, there are other things that we need to consider when measuring the progress we are making.

a. Positive or helpful marker points

There are times when the progress towards our ultimate goal seems long and hard. In a marathon race, the participants can usually see the progress that they have made. There are often markers every mile so that they can work out how far they can come and how far they have to go. Chasing a dream can feel like a marathon as well. The end can seem a very long way off and yet when we look back we have made a lot of progress. On a marathon, one of the marks of progress can be the opportunity to grab a plastic cup with water in it. This is something that we could look forwards to. There are also points on the journey to our dream when we can pause a moment for refreshment, not stop but pause to celebrate the achievement that we have made so far.

When could we celebrate?  Many people celebrate birthdays and anniversaries with parties. Others celebrate new jobs or qualifications gained etc. There are many other targets that we could celebrate reaching. What about noting the day that a particular decision was reached for example the first day of sobriety or fresh start and noting when the one month, six months and one year anniversary are reached. What about celebrating when you have reached the targets that you have set yourself?

What could that celebration comprise of?  We could celebrate on our own by allowing ourselves a special treat, anything from a chocolate bar to a new car depending on the circumstances. We could celebrate with friends or family. If what we are celebrating means that we have been able to save money, such as giving up smoking then a celebration could consist of spending the money that has been saved on a special treat. Of course, any celebration needs to something that we look forwards to and which does not cause us any problems such as falling back into old bad habits.

b. Continue to look ahead

In addition to having celebrations when we meet intermediate goals we need to keep on looking forwards to the future. Successful people normally keep on looking ahead at their future goals. These provide a focus for them. People who think on a day to day basis and focus on short term goals are often people who lack focus and therefore are more likely to be poor or unsuccessful.

Looking ahead also means that we do not waste time looking backwards. There is nothing that we can do to change the past. The only thing that we can do is to go ahead from where we are now. That may sound very obvious but many people spoil their lives with thoughts that start if only I had… or I should have … Dwelling on past regrets makes it very difficult if not impossible to go forwards. Forgive yourself and forgive others and move onwards and upwards into a new and better future.

c. Continue to be kind to yourself

One of the things that it is easy to do is to set such strict boundaries on our behaviour that we are effectively punishing ourselves. Some people use the idea of doing on a strict diet and going without certain foods as a means of punishing themselves. Others set such a strict budget that they suffer as a result. This is effectively a form of abusing themselves and it does not matter where the abuse is coming from it is negative experience that should not be allowed to happen.

One way of countering this is to set aside opportunities to be king to ourselves. One way of doing this is to set aside a certain amount of money as mad money i.e. money that you can use when you want to go mad. Remember the old saying that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Mad money it is what you can use when you want to do something that is outside the normal guidelines i.e. when you want to play. That is just one example of how it is possible to occasionally loosen the harsh grip that our plans have on us and therefore enable us to be kind to ourselves.

d. Continue to stretch yourself

If we do not continue to grow and develop we run the risk of stagnating. We need to keep on asking how we are going to move forwards. However, for the best results they need to be the right questions. There is quite a difference between these two questions. “How can I double my income this year?”  “How can I get enough money to pay the bills this month?”  The first question is an encouragement to achieve more than the second one. It takes the same amount of mental effort to come up with solutions for the first question as it does for the second one.

Questions that help you reach your potential  Questions that can lead to discouragement

How can I make £1 000 000 doing what love?  How can I get my boss to give me a raise?

What is life trying to teach me at the moment?  Why do bad things always happen to me?

How do I develop a deeper relationship with my kids?  Why is it so hard to get along with my kids?

What can I do to show my spouse I appreciate them?  Why does my spouse not appreciate me?

What would I enjoy doing to stay strong and healthy?  Why is it so hard to lose weight?

Who am I becoming?  Who am I?

We need to encourage ourselves in all things and one way that we can do that is with our words. If we ask ourselves questions that make us feel that we cannot do things how can we encourage ourselves.

e. Be prepared to keep moving

In the first section we mentioned the idea that if we are to maintain our ability to do something then we need to use it. There is a lot of truth in the old saying “use it or lose it”. Each of the ideas given here to help us overcome the issues that cause us to stop needs to be used and practised. They are not once and for all ideas they are things that may need to be done repeatedly. In a traditional twelve step programme this step is where participants are encouraged to keep on doing a personal evaluation. The idea being that once they have done the first cycle of the process that there are times when they will need to go back and review the process on a regular basis. This could be monthly or even daily.

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