Life can be pretty overwhelming when we first get sober. We have a ton of wreckage to clean up from our previous life and that takes up a lot of our time. Meanwhile, we have our therapists telling us we have to find ourselves and our joy in life again. In the early days, we might have the safety and structure of a treatment program to help provide a framework in which to operate. However, we can’t be a patient for the rest of our lives. Life is waiting for us and if we don’t rise up to meet it head-on, we will be back where we started from in no time. Fortunately, meeting life on its terms is a lot easier than it appears. And it helps to organize life’s tasks into workable goals. The following is a guide for setting and achieving your goals, whatever they may be.
One of the biggest problems that recovering addicts face is biting off more than we can chew. When we were out running and gunning, our solution was always more and, often, that mentality carries over after we’ve gotten sober. We want it all and we want it right now. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way, even if our intentions are good. You want to be able to play piano like Art Tatum? That’s wonderful! The world can never have enough jazz pianists. Learning to play an instrument is also fantastic for a healing brain. But unless you’re a musical genius, it’s going to take quite a while to get to that level. And that’s okay! To keep yourself motivated, start setting some manageable “checkpoint goals” on the way. Handling tasks of a workable size and checking them off your list is a great way to keep yourself moving toward your big goal.
Getting to Carnegie Hall
We’re going to stick with the piano playing analogy but these concepts will extend to whatever project you’re working on. In this case, let’s imagine that one of the manageable goals you’ve set includes learning scales, an essential piece of learning jazz piano. That’s going to require repetition. This is a good time to make your new hobby a habit. Set aside a little time every day to start making piano part of your daily routine. And, again, start small – maybe 20-30 minutes. Telling yourself you’re going to knock out four hours of practice a day is just setting yourself up to fail. Once you’ve made those 30 minutes a daily habit, then start making 40 minutes the new goal.
Get Your Plan On Paper
This one is a personal favorite and I can’t stress its value enough. Writing your goals out is a great way to keep things organized and workable. For example, learning jazz piano requires studying not only scales, but music theory, chords and voicings, arpeggios, and plenty more. But you can’t learn them all at once – arpeggios don’t make much sense if you don’t know chords, and chords don’t make sense without scales. Write these checkpoint goals down and start organizing them. If you do, you’ll often find that a grand design will start to sort itself out. Furthermore, writing things out engages more of your brain and helps you learn while providing a record of your progress at the same time. And there is something very satisfying about being able to check things off a list.
Follow Through and Have Fun with It
These should really go without saying but they’re also the two that are forgotten most quickly. It doesn’t matter if you’re learning the piano, attempting a new gym routine, or knitting sweaters – all the planning in the world isn’t going to matter if you don’t follow through. To put it in recovery terms, those manageable goals only work if you work them. To help stay on track, remember why you’re doing this in the first place: to have fun! Learn a simple song like “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and play it in a jazz style. Go out and listen to some live music and see some greats in action. Find reminders of why you enjoy your new hobby, project, or goal and find new ways to fall in love with it all over again.
Ocean Recovery has been successfully treating substance abuse and eating disorders since 2002. If you or someone you know is struggling, please consider giving us a call today. We offer individual and group counseling, nutritional therapy, addiction education, surf therapy, and more as part of our holistic approach to mental health. Call today and start building your foundation for success.