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Small Steps Can Really Add Up

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Whenever we make significant life changes, we usually have some goal in mind. For example, this goal may be to achieve sobriety, heal our bodies, or improve our mental health. Having a goal in mind can help steer our life path in a good direction, but it can also be frustrating. The frustration usually comes in the form of impatience. We can imagine how we would like things to be, and we want it to happen as soon as possible. 

Being irritated by this is understandable and may even serve as a source of inspiration. However, it can also make things more complicated than they have to be. Learning how to take things at a steady pace may end up making your goals easier and faster to achieve. 

Life Is a Work in Progress 

In life, nobody starts as a finished product. Everyone learns and grows with time. While looking at someone who has been sober for 15 years, you may feel bad about your progress. Although looking to others can be a valuable source of inspiration, you do not know their personal story, and it would be unfair to hold yourself up to someone else’s life. 

You cannot expect to rush your growth to get where someone else is. We all have different experiences and life paths, and that person likely had very different struggles and opportunities than you. Making unfair comparisons like this can make you feel discouraged and lead to setbacks rather than progress. 

Instead of comparing yourself to someone else today, try to compare yourself to who you were in the past. Do your best to recognize improvements you have made along your recovery journey. Maintaining steady, consistent progress is much more likely to get you where you want to be in a faster and healthier way. 

12-Step programs are a great example of progress over time. These programs do not overload you with information and expect you to change into a different person quickly. Instead, they have you follow a set of steps that help you progress over time on your journey to recovery. Incremental growth allows you to attain goals in a healthy, realistic manner. 

12-Step programs also allow you to become part of a community that supports each other in their self-growth, without judgment or unfair comparisons. Originally there were only 12-Step programs for alcohol, but thankfully they have expanded to other substances and even gambling. 

Record Your Progress 

Famed clinical psychologist and author Dr. Jordan Peterson is no stranger to helping people attain their goals, and he is a big fan of the incremental method. For example, say you spend too much time doing something or doing it too many times a week. The first thing he often asks his patients to do is record data on the behavior they want to change. He asks people to write down the times they did what they want to reduce for a week. Then, he asks them to slightly reduce that number to their ability. 

Even when changes may seem slight, adding up the numbers over time can lead to more significant shifts than you may realize. Dr. Peterson even uses time playing video games as an example, although this idea can be applied to almost anything. 

Say, for example, you have ten cigarettes per day. If you could cut that down to eight cigarettes per day over a week, you have already fixed 20% of your problem. Two cigarettes less may not seem like much overall, but if you could keep up that pace of improvement up for five weeks, the problem would be solved. 

The incremental method can also be applied to starting positive activities such as exercising. Starting small and working your way up can prevent burnout or excess stress while allowing for steady progress towards your goals. 

Even when using this method, however, progress is not always steady. Everyone makes mistakes occasionally, and it is important to not beat yourself up for not reaching your goals as fast as you would like to. 

Mindfulness can be a valuable tool for combatting stress or frustration related to your goals or past mistakes. This technique involves staying in the present moment and experiencing your feelings and emotions without judgment. It has been shown to help those with substance use disorder (SUD) reduce stress and improve coping skills. Using mindfulness to maintain stress levels and practicing incremental growth may be a healthy path towards achieving your goals in life.

We have all heard the phrase “slow and steady wins the race,” and like all great sayings, there is certainly truth in it. When overcoming addiction, setting a steady and healthy pace is vital. Recovery is not something that happens overnight. Instead, it is a long-term process where we build ourselves up towards our goals. One of the most valuable things about receiving treatment for SUD is learning new tools to remain sober. These tools include mindfulness, therapy, support groups, and life changes that help us grow and improve our chances of success. If you are seeking help for SUD, Everlast Recovery Centers is here for you. Our caring and well-trained staff are ready to give you the treatment you need. We offer relapse prevention and therapies on top of our treatment plans to equip you with what you need to thrive in recovery. To learn more about how we can help you, call us today at (866) 338-6925.

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