Sober During the Holidays (and after)

I was asked to be on a segment of Huffpost Live titled: “Is Alcohol an Integral Part of the Holidays.” Here is a link to the 15 minute segment. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to talk about the book, but there were several authors involved in the program, and none of us did. I didn’t get a chance to talk about SMART either, but there were no recovery programs mentioned. In my second “shot” I did manage to sneak in the concept that sobriety was an ongoing effort, not just something we do around the holidays.

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Goal Setting

In the last post, I talked about some of the reasons we set goals. In this post, we’ll get into the details of not only establishing SMART goals, but also documenting them, which is just as important.

I was a sales engineer throughout most of my career. Every year at the national sales meeting we would go through the exercise of goal setting. I hated it, I guess because they made us do it. I worked for three companies during those years, and they all attached a great deal of significance to the process. They would start with the company forecast, break that down to regions, than individual salespeople, and give us all our quotas. We would then break our quota down to the number of sales calls necessary to obtain that level of business, based upon averages. We would take it all the way down to number of phone calls per day necessary to get the required number of appointments. You get the picture.

I hated goal setting because the company set the objectives. In this section we will start from scratch and define our own goals. Believe me, it is more fun. Continue reading

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Why Set Goals?

Most people understand that the best way to keep your vehicle headed straight on the highway is to focus your eyes on the furthest point you can see, and let your peripheral vision take care of what’s happening close to you. I was taught that simple trick in High School Driver’s Ed, and had it reinforced in every driving school I have ever attended. The technique has the added benefit of allowing  you to see trouble (like brake lights coming on) when it’s still far enough away for you to react in plenty of time. You can easily spot the drivers who aren’t doing this, their cars or trucks are weaving back and forth within, or slightly outside of their lanes, as they fix their gaze right over their hood and try to adjust to a position that is constantly changing.

What has this technique to do with the importance of setting goals, and changing our belief systems? Quite a lot, actually, and that’s the subject of this post. In the early stages of quitting addictions, our gaze is pretty much fixed right over the hood, in the sense that any goals we set are liable to be extremely short-term, and not very complicated. Our early goals might simply be abstaining for a day, a few days, a week, or a month. In the beginning, it’s difficult for us to focus much farther ahead than this, because we’re still discovering that there is a life without our addiction.

As we progress in our new-found freedom, we find it not only possible to set some longer-term goals, we find that it is necessary in order to sustain a healthy recovery. Our chances of success are much greater if we are moving towards something rather than running away. We also find that keeping our long-term goals in mind helps us make sense of the clutter in our daily lives, and provides part of the criteria for determining if our beliefs are irrational or not. Continue reading

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