Perseverance

“How many books have you written, Leo?” I tell them. “That many! Wow.Writing obviously comes easy to you.” Actually it doesn’t come easy. I’ve really got to work at it. I’m writing this meditation at 4 AM-talk about perseverance! But most things that we achieve take perseverance: marriage, recovery, scholarship, sports, theatre, music . . . the list is endless. We should also consider that the people who say, “You definitely have a gift,” are possibly manipulating the compliment so that they can remain idle. Sloth can be tricky. “If I don’t have the gift, how can I be successful?” Not so fast! We all have gifts. Some of us choose to develop, nurture, and polish them. We can all learn to dance.              Say Yes to Your Spirit, Leo Booth

When I came into recovery I was told that it isn’t a difficult program but that it would take an effort on my part. Later I was told that faith in a Higher Power can move mountains, but I had to bring a shovel and a wheelbarrow. It goes along with the old adage that money doesn’t grow on trees, but it is made from trees. If I want anything, I will have to work for it. It takes perseverance.

In the past 18 months that I have been writing this blog I have posted almost 150 entries. It has not been easy. Sometimes the words come easier than others but they always come because I work for them. Sometimes the words are as much for me as they are for the readers. I use the blog to express ideas that I have about recovery and to explore the depth of the journey we are on as we go down Recovery River. And as I write, I am gaining valuable experience in writing and learning about myself. The blog is my way of working the shovel and wheelbarrow of my recovery.

There are still plenty of times outside of the blog writing where I procrastinate, (a fancy, five syllable word that means sloth). I say that I’m not in the mood, or not inspired, but the truth is, I am not writing other things that I want to be write because of fears and self doubt. If the recovery program has taught me anything it is that I have to do the work to get the result. And so, once again, I am telling on myself and sharing with my readers something that I know will urge me and pressure me to continue on with this journey of writing.

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I will be reaching a ‘biggie’ birthday this year. I wish to plan the next stage of my life to be a productive part of my life and part of that will be writing. I do not wish to exist. I want to “Live! Live! Live!” to quote Auntie Mame. I don’t wish to shuffle slowly to the grave. Rather I want to splash down into it enjoying and really living every part of what life has to offer. And whether that is a day, a year, or thirty years more, I challenge myself to persevere to keep moving forward, to live each day to the fullest, to take risks and to continually step out of my comfort zone. I can’t accomplish any of this sitting in my easy chair watching Netflix. I have to conquer my fears and my doubts if I want to move forward.

Do I have a great gift for writing? Not anymore than anyone else. But what I do have is passion for it and so I will continue to write. I am grateful to my recovery program and the people in my life for encouraging me and showing me by their own example that I can move forward and pursue my passions.

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Priorities not Resolutions

“Spend all of your time on those things you value most — on those things which you believe go beyond the here-and-now. The more time you can spend on things you believe to be of infinite worth, the more powerful your daily life and behavior will be.”  Benjamin Hardy

Making changes in one’s life is difficult. It is hard to push through even a single change; we are creatures of habit. We like the predictability of knowing what is going to happen next in our lives. Changes are fought tooth and nail. We want things to stay the same. That’s why New Year’s resolutions don’t work: the energy required to make the change is far more than we are willing and sometimes able to give.

Resolutions often fail because we have not really ‘resolved’ to do anything. We have made a decision to, for example, lose weight, but have not made specific plans for how that is going to come about. When a strong temptation comes, we easily slip up and try that left over fruit cake or chocolate. And once you slip, it seems to be human nature accept the failure and fall back onto one’s old ways. Where was the decision? Where did the resolve go?

Priorities are different than resolutions. A true priority is something that is extremely important to you and that you will strive to work toward come what may and regardless of single actions. A priority is based on what you value. A priority comes before anything else. By definition then we have few priorities; just a few things that we hold above other things in importance.

“Priorities are the most fundamental and powerful thing in your life–they reflect your values and goals.”  Benjamin Hardy

If I choose to make a healthy body a priority in my life, then I don’t need to make a resolution: I do those things which will create a healthy body. I will ask how I can achieve this healthy body. I will read about it. I will make decisions about food, exercise and activities that will work toward this priority. I will measure the changes until I achieve that healthy body and I will continue to maintain it. Along the way I will have learned and applied much about this priority. I’ll be less likely to skip exercise or eat food that conflicts with my priority.

A number of years ago I made recovery a priority in my life. It still is a priority. Am I perfect at it? No. And I still work on it in all parts of my life. These past few months I have made writing a priority. So I am doing all the things that make writing an integral part of my life. I am learning about techniques, I am part of a writers’ group. I believe that writing is important for me so I write something everyday.

I choose my priorties in life. I don’t give that option to anyone else. I strive to spend a lot of my time writing. Am I always successful? No. But it is a priority so if I fall short I can pick myself up and move forward.

This year, don’t make resolutions. Why not take the time to do some reflection and decide what your priorities in life really are. When you know ‘who’ you want to be and ‘why’ you want to be that way, then the ‘how’ of achieving it will naturally follow.

Happy New Year!

Read Benjamin Hardy’s full article here: 30 Behaviors That Will Make You Unstoppable

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Taking Stock

We´re almost at the half way point of December. Where did the year go? We had the same amount of time that we did lasts year. Everyone gets the same 24 hours each day, weeks and months go by, and suddenly we’re close to marking the end of another year. Regardless of whether or not you make New Year’s Resolutions, I believe it is important to take a yearly stock of where we are and put forth some intentions of where we want to go in the next.

Now is as good a time as any to do a yearly inventory. I can look back at the past year and see how far I have come. In what ways have I found gains in my life and where did I fail in being the person I wish to be. In doing so, I will find the areas of my life where I need to put forth more of a concerted effort to make changes.

If I am truly living my program of recovery then I am constantly changing and evolving. I am not the same person I was a year ago, or at least I hope not. I can only really know by doing that personal moral inventory again. Few business owners like to do a physical inventory of their business, but it is the only way they can truly calculate the exact state of the company. It is a check to see that what is written on paper, or in the computer, is in agreement with what is actually present. A physical inventory lets the owner know not only how the past year went but also how to plan for the next, develop strategies for coping with changes in trends and look to the future.

I have to do the same in my inventory. It is not about self recrimination and focus on failure. Rather it is an honest look at my state of affairs. Neither do I focus on how much I have accomplished. It is an even handed, humble look at who I am now and measuring that against who I was a year ago. In doing so I know where my weaknesses are, how I’ve fallen short in my program and how I can move forward for the next year to improve where I am in life.

It is very apparent to me that I need to work on self esteem. Early on in life I developed a false sense of humility and it is still a struggle to recognize my talents and successes. I still tend to focus on my failures and run the tapes over and over in my head of how I am not good enough. Good enough for who?

I am working on a plan to shift my focus for the next year. I will strive to keep in mind the small gains that I make. I will work to recognize when I am slipping into feelings of unworthiness and turn them around before they affect my mood or take me down the road of depression. I can’t control my thoughts, but I can control what I do with them. I do that by daily committing to my recovery program, by being vigilant and by focusing on accomplishments.

I’ve learned that if I am not changing then I am not living my program. I want to be a better person today than I was last year. I want to see improvements. I want to live life fully and on life’s terms. I accept that I have made many positive changes in this life and that I can work on other aspects of my character. I do this by taking the time now to see where I have come from and decide where I wish to go.