Anyone who enters any type of recovery program is bound to hear the adage “one day at a time.” Recovery from any addiction – drugs, alcohol or a behavior – is a process. It’s imperative to focus on getting through each day, rather than what you need to do in a week, month or year; this makes the process feel more manageable and less overwhelming.
Yet, how do you get through one day at a time? The goal of staying sober each day is certainly achievable, especially when you focus on the positive future and set small milestones to meet each day. Follow some of these tips to get through each day and make positive steps toward a sober and healthy future.
Set a Priority. What is the number one thing that you want to accomplish today? Obviously, not using the substance or engaging in the behavior is job number one, but what else would you like to accomplish today? Decide on a task or activity that will make you feel that you accomplished something each day, whether it’s planting a garden or making a phone call, even something as seemingly mundane or managing to tackle your laundry. Even managing those small activities can help you get on the path to being a productive and sober individual.
Get Accountable. In the early days of your sobriety, having a strong support system is of the utmost importance. Not only can others provide a sounding board when you’re having trouble, but they can hold you accountable for your actions. Ask a friend or family member to check in with you and help you achieve your goals each day.
Focus on Addition, Not Subtraction. While much of recovery focuses on the removal of unhealthy behaviors and substances from your life, success also depends on replacing them with healthier behaviors. So set small goals to add healthy behaviors to your life. For example, set a goal to work out for 30 minutes each day or to eat more fruits and vegetables each day. When you focus on changing things for the positive, you’ll feel better and much less deprived, than if you focus on what you’re missing.
Keep Your Goals Visible. Remember when you were a kid and you had a chore chart that reminded you of what you needed to do each day? When you are trying to make positive changes in your life, making a visible reminder of what you need to accomplish each day can increase your chances of success considerably. Make a poster with the list of your daily goals to hang on the refrigerator or set reminders on your smartphone to prompt you to take steps toward your goal.
Take Baby Steps. It’s a cliché, but it’s true: Rome wasn’t built in a day, especially when it comes to recovery. Completing a rehabilitation program certainly jumpstarts the process, but it still takes time to get healthy and sober. And setting small, broad-based goals can help you feel like you are making process. For example, instead of saying “I’m going to bed at 9 p.m. every night,” amend your goal to be more realistic, because you will only get let down if you are unable to meet it. Instead, set a goal to get more sleep each night, and work toward an earlier bedtime each night. You’ll feel as if you are making progress without setting unrealistic goals for yourself.
Reward Yourself for Success. Anyone who has set any type of goal will tell you that without a reward or payoff for the hard work, the process can be frustrating; it’s easy to get off track. So it’s important to take the time to set up a healthy reward system for meeting your goals. Maybe you can treat yourself to a new book or outfit if you meet your goals for several days in a row, or perhaps a coffee date with a friend. The important thing, though, is to not punish yourself for falling short. You will have off days and that’s okay. In fact, if you find that you have several “off” days in a row or you just can’t seem to meet your goals, reconsider the goals you have set. It may be that your goals are too ambitious for now and you need to pull back and take baby steps toward the larger goal.
Setting manageable goals is the key to success in any endeavor; that’s especially true for recovery. As each day goes by, you’ll see yourself making some degree of progress. Then, you’ll build your confidence and make progress toward your desire to have an overall clean and sober life. Take each day as it comes, do your best and reward yourself for the progress that you do make. In time, you’ll find that you’ve come a long way – and you’re living your much dreamed-about life of sobriety.
Image by Lululemon Athletica from Flickr’s Creative Common