Fake It ‘Til You Make It

It’s easy to dream. To close your eyes and imagine yourself in another place, doing other things, breaking your bad habits and making the life you really want. Everyone can dream. It takes almost no effort.

It’s actually getting out there and doing something to achieve those dreams that’s the hard part. It’s hard work, and nobody likes hard work. But, you have to put in the work to get what you want.

Achieving sobriety is no different. You must want it badly enough to put in the hard work, to stay motivated and to be successful. And although you’re resistant to the change and feeling like you’re not up to the challenge, it’s what you need, so you just get out there and do it anyway. And eventually you will see your progress, or reach your goal, and be so glad you did all that hard work. Today’s safe coping strategy is:

Actions first, and feelings will follow. Don’t wait until you feel motivated, just start now.

If you sit around, waiting for motivation to hit you, you’ll sit forever. Motivation isn’t something that comes to you, it’s something that you create inside of yourself. You might not feel particularly motivated to tackle a particular goal, but if you start creating a world for yourself where that goal is possible, eventually the motivation will come. Few people can put in a good deal of hard work and then turn their back on a project. Motivation builds as progress builds.

Getting sober is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. And in the beginning, I didn’t really want to do it. And I didn’t know how to do it. And I didn’t want to put in the effort. And I didn’t think it was possible. But, I knew it was what I needed.

When I first arrived at rehab, I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, and doing all the things they asked me to do. Eventually, I started to feel better, I started to feel like I was making progress, and I started to feel like sobriety was achievable.

It’s always hard to make a big change or begin a large project, but in order to get anywhere, you just have to start. Take the first step, and the second will follow. Make the first move, and something will happen. You don’t need some big, elaborate plan, and you don’t need to get everything done in one day. You just have to start.

Progress in Recovery

My counselor recently asked me to give some thought to what progress really means to someone in recovery, and what it means to me. What does progress look like? What does progress feel like?

Progress is defined as “forward or onward movement toward a destination.” But, is there really a destination in recovery? Is there a final step we take, and then we are fully recovered? Of course, there is a goal: to maintain sobriety for the remainder of our lives. But, are we ever done making progress toward that goal? Or is it ongoing every day?

Consider progress as just “forward or onward movement,” and what that means to someone in recovery. Leave out the idea that there needs to be an end, a destination. The forward or onward movement is one of the most important parts of recovery. Forward movement is integral to our success. If we stop moving forward with our life, we fall back into old habits, or we get stagnant, both of which threaten our sobriety.

But a forward movement doesn’t have to be a big one to count toward recovery. Every small step we take, provided it’s taken in the right direction with the right intentions, moves us further along on our recovery journey. And the more road we put behind us, the better off we are.

That’s why the one-day-at-a-time method has helped so many people achieve sobriety. We focus on the littlest accomplishments, the smallest steps forward; even just one day sober is a reason to celebrate. And each day we get up and we do it again.

It takes time to get to a place where we can look back and see how far we’ve come. And that can be very frustrating. Many of us want to see all the progress happen all at once, for everything to just magically be better and for us to be cured of our disease overnight.

But, it doesn’t happen that way. It comes in small doses, over a long period of time. So, it’s important to set our sights on the future. What will we do with it? Who do we want to become? Where do we want our path to lead us? And when we find ourselves moving down that path, making the right strides to become who it is we want to be, that’s what we can call “progress” in our recovery.