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Wishes, Illusions and The Reality of Recovery

Updated on March 9, 2015
Most of us do not have a magic wand to make "it" happen - whatever it is.  But we can all create workable goals and sub-goals and work to have them happen
Most of us do not have a magic wand to make "it" happen - whatever it is. But we can all create workable goals and sub-goals and work to have them happen | Source

Wishing and Illusion Don't Work: Goals and Actions Do

The problem with wishing is that it is just a strong desire, feeling, or hope for something that seems to be just out of our grasp.

We also falsely create illusions that we're born under a bad sign, that we ought to have a better life, or think that the world conspired against us.

Stop Wishing and Start Doing

Wishing is based primarily on something that you want, but either do not know how to get or something that you are not putting planned effort, time and energy into attaining.

When I got into recovery, I realized that in my addiction, I didn't wish to use. No, I planned, put effort into, and then accomplished the task. I even had goals; use and do not get caught, and put time, energy and effort into accomplishing this.

I made a decision in 1988, that recovery was going to be a goal. I knew I'd have to start making better decisions, structure my life differently, create time-frames for accomplishments and work, not wish. Nor create any more illusions about how to accomplish this.

If you think about the energy and effort that you put into your use, you know that these internal resources are always available to you, after all, they are within you. In recovery, you can redirect your energy and effort towards your goals and sub-goals.

With different priorities and focus, you can plan and accomplish your goals and sub-goals and use your time, energy, and effort to realize some of your wishes. In my early recovery, I decided that wishing was an activity and goals were the achievement and I would have to decide where to focus my energies.

Compounding early recovery with Unrealistic Expectations of yourself can lead to feelings of frustration, guilt and failure.
Compounding early recovery with Unrealistic Expectations of yourself can lead to feelings of frustration, guilt and failure. | Source

The Reality of Addiction

Illusions Versus Reality

Compounding early recovery with Unrealistic Expectations of yourself and others can lead to feelings of frustration, guilt, and failure.

We get overwhelmed by all of the missed opportunities and squandered time spent in active addiction. Then we start creating the illusion that we have to make up for lost time. We do this by setting up unrealistic expectations for all that we have to accomplish now.

Or, if we do not place this on ourselves, we place the burden of making our recovery better onto others. That somehow people will magically change their attitude towards us simply because we did not use that day. Alternatively, we create the illusion of how different our outcomes will be.

Sometimes it has to do with the illusion of all that we can accomplish. We believe that we should be able to right all the wrongs, never experience a craving, overcome our fears, all within the first month of our recovery.

Other times, it’s because we create the illusion that life ought to be a certain way, or people should behave in a specific manner, or that others make us happy or unhappy.

Personal Goal Motivation

Which Areas of your Life Need a Goal?

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Stop – Take a Breath

Look at your wishes and illusions in your recovery. Reframe them into goals and sub-goals. Do not spend a lot of time editing this based on what you think other people find valuable; it’s your life that we are talking about here. Make sure they are doable, you are personally motivated to accomplish them, and you have help if you run into problems. While there are many things you would like to accomplish in your life, Goals and sub-goals are not a long bucket list.

Making Goals and Sub-goals Realistic

Many people have a vague idea of what they would like to achieve, but do not know how to get results, and wishing doesn’t make it so. While recovery is a primary goal, there are other goals you would like to accomplish. Goal and sub-goal setting help you prioritize what you want to change in your life today, and what you want to achieve in the future.

By setting sub-goals, which are incremental steps toward achieving your larger goals, you define a realistic approach to getting what you want.

It is the process of establishing goals and sub-goals that help you choose what you want to accomplish. Then you can decide where to apply your abilities or where you need help. For any life goal to be achievable, you must take into account:

  • Personal Value of the Goal
  • Realistic Expectations
  • Skill Sets
  • Resources
  • Limitations
  • Support Networks

The Working Goal Categories

Source

What Are Good Goal Categories?

I decided that I would make no more than 10 working goal categories in my early recovery. Too many more, and I'd just get frantic with charts, and tables, and all sorts of unnecessary stuff. i called them, "The Workable Goal Categories", because I wanted to reinforce to myself, that they would take work not wishing.

Step 1- Define Goals for Your Ten Goal Categories

The Goal Categories cover many aspects of life. Most, if not all of your goals and sub-goals will fit into one of these ten categories. Creating too many categories can be time-consuming and overwhelming.

Step 2- Identifying Sub-Goals for Each Goal

While setting a goal is good, seeing what you want to accomplish and what is realistic in a particular category will help ensure that you will follow through on your plan. Making your sub-goals specific to your interests, your strengths, and your limitations will make these more attainable.

After you have your categories, spend some quiet time and “future where you would like to be with these goals in 3 months, six months, a year, five years or even at retirement. People in recovery tend to think that living one day at a time means not planning. This is not the intent; it is not planning the outcome. Which means that you can plan on getting an education, you just are uncertain of the opportunities this education will give you, or what job you will ultimately have.

Sometimes it has to do with the illusion of all that we can accomplish without having the knowledge of how to accomplish something, or because we simply do not have the time to fulfill all of the obligations we set up for ourselves in early recovery.

Other times, it’s because we create the illusion that life ought to be a certain way, or people should behave in a specific manner, or that others make us happy or unhappy.

Be mindful of not setting yourself up to fail in your Goals and Sub-goals
Be mindful of not setting yourself up to fail in your Goals and Sub-goals | Source

Recovery Goal Example

Recovery from addiction must be a clearly defined goal to be successful. We can't just wish we had it, or create the illusion that not using is enough. Building on your desire to change; what in yourself you need to change; and how best to approach the goal of change, help create solid foundations for recovery.

However, this should not be simply a goal established by a provider, sponsor or other supportive people, but must be goals that you desire, in order to succeed. "Happiness comes when I remember that others' opinions of me are just their opinions - nothing more. I find happiness in moving toward my goals regardless of the applause or the jeers of others." ~Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Set a time frame for you, not an employer, spouse or children. For your recovery goal, use a three-month goal, for all others project them from a year to five years. Living in the moment, not predicting outcomes, and “one day at a time” are not appropriate mindsets for this exercise. You can set long-terms goals, realizing that you accomplish everything by doing something towards the goal, one day at a time.

When you set clear goals and sub-goals, you can measure and track your progress and take pride in these achievements. By not always focusing on the long-term goal of continuous recovery, you can gain self-confidence and encouragement by achieving a sub-goal. Some of them might be:

  • Participation in meetings
  • Getting a sponsor or accountability partner
  • Making amends to those you have harmed
  • Advocating for the addicted population
  • Get a job
  • Be a better parent/grandparent/employee/spouse

Some Predictable Sub-Goals for Early Recovery:

  • Satisfy agency requirements to reunite with children
  • Reunite with healthy loved ones who may be threatening divorce without treatment
  • Stop the criminal activities to lessen incarceration times
  • Get a GED to enhance job opportunities
  • Education for advancement in career path
  • Keep your current job if treatment is a mandatory expectation of the employer
  • Provide housing for yourself or family
  • Obtain needed health and dental care

When you accomplish specific sub-goals, you are working towards your larger goal of being chemically free; feeling a measure of pride and success.

Recovery Gives Us a Different Future

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Actions and Guidance Replace Wishing with Surprising Results

When you create goals and sub-goals, you are identifying actions that will get you what you want. You are also determining what help you may need to achieve your goals and sub-goals and can feel a sense of accomplishment when you realize that your efforts are paying off in better outcomes. You've gone from wishing to actions.

If wishing has fairy godmothers and wizards, and illusions have magicians, then actions have advisors, too. There are knowledgeable people in recovery, so ask them for help in realizing your goals and sub-goals.

Try not to process the help that you get as criticism if you're asked to change or modify something. Moving forward in our recovery goals and sub-goals will produce better outcomes than wishing our circumstances were better or creating the illusion that it ought to be different.

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    • MDavisatTIERS profile image
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      Marilyn L Davis 3 years ago from Georgia

      That's a good point, claudyobcn. Sub-goals can be as difficult or as easy as we make them, but each one can give us a sense of accomplishment and pride and motivate us to do the next incremental action to reach that goal. Marilyn

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