Progress toward a more balanced lifestyle may at a time seem a huge challenge - like I’m standing at the bottom of a mountain craning my neck to see a peak that looks impossibly high up and far away.
Any given day may be a struggle against an urge, an old habit, an unhelpful friend, or another challenge.
I look at people who have a month of progress and think “that’s a long time - I can barely go a few days.”
I look at another person who may have a year of a more helpful life and think “that’s so long, I’ll NEVER get there.”
However I might choose to accept that they both did it one minute, one hour, one day at a time and CHOOSE TO step up.
Altering a habit of thought or action is likely to take effort. I might keep learning. I might keep talking to a helpful person. I might keep working on a tool. Next thing I know, my work has paid off a little. I have a few days, or maybe a week. Maybe I successfully navigate a situation that caused me a problem in the past.
I work on building skill with a tool, or chat to a friend and report my success, and suddenly I, and maybe someone else congratulate me for my ‘victory.’ I’ve successfully climbed part of the way up that ‘impossible’ mountain. As I top each little rise on the way to the summit I might find myself looking back and noticing “that seems less hard now, than I thought it was at the time.”
It is likely helpful to celebrate reaching a hill top on the way to the summit and keeping that momentum going. It is likely helpful to be a little happy to celebrate one week or even one day of progress. Even something as wonderful as going out with a friend for dinner and ordering water as my beverage is a part of the process.
Going out and having water instead of wine may seem small to some, however it represents a building of strength and a refining of a new skill. When I look back from the top of each hill I might choose to notice the refined skill it took to get there. On one hill I might learn to socialize without a substance I once used. On another hill I learn to distract myself, or surf an urge - through an afternoon where an urge is a bit persistent. On a third hill maybe I develop a helpful ABC-DE. These tremendously helpful things add up and serve to build my expertise, confidence, and momentum. Each hill, just like a real life hill, helps me prepare for a next hill.
Celebrating reaching the top of a little hill is really celebrating my important life progress – a new piece of the puzzle in building a more balanced, more engaged life.
I’ll go ahead and celebrate. I’ll take a minute and enjoy the view at this point on the mountain. The effort that I have put in will fade in my memory, while the increased awareness and personal growth I experience, is something that will last the longest time.