Whatever it is we want to achieve in life, it’s easy to look at our ultimate goal and feel discouraged or overwhelmed. Ambitious goals are often exciting at first, but actually working toward them reveals a thousand hidden difficulties. That’s true whether you’re recovering from addiction, training for a marathon, or building a business. Having a clear idea of where we want to go is good, but comparing where we are now to that ultimate vision can be discouraging. Perhaps the best way to keep yourself on track in the face of inevitable difficulties is to focus on making each day a little better than the last.
No matter where we want to go, we have to start where we are. We only know what we know. Mistakes are inevitable. When you’re just starting out, much of your efforts will be misplaced. Even if you have wise guidance, no one can live your life for you. You just have to accept that much of what you do today will seem foolish or inept tomorrow, a month from now, or a year from now. However, that’s a good thing because it means you’re learning. Imagine finding something you had written in kindergarten and realizing your handwriting looks pretty much the same now. It would be depressing to discover your handwriting hadn’t improved in the many years since you first learned to write. However, when it comes to other areas of life, we dwell on our past mistakes and let ourselves become mired in shame and regret.
A much better way to approach life is to try to make every day better than yesterday. Accept that you will make some mistakes and embrace it. Not making mistakes means you’re not growing and learning new things. Even if everything went terribly yesterday, resolve to do a little better today. In fact, the worse things were yesterday, the easier it should be to improve.
These improvements don’t have to be major. It might be something as simple as taking a deep breath when you feel overwhelmed or making a special effort to listen to your spouse when she tells you about her day. Gradually, you’ll find these small improvements begin to accumulate, like compound interest. One day it might take all the emotional regulation you can muster to stop yourself from having a drink. The next day, it might be imperceptibly easier, but in a year, you might treat a craving as little more than a passing whim. The same is true for your other goals. If you build a better life a little each day, a year from now you’ll look back and realize how much things have changed.
Tree House Recovery is a men’s treatment program located in Portland, Oregon. Creating sustainable recovery through sustainable change, our programs help men learn how to live sober with adventurous lives. Call us today for information: (503) 850-2474