this image appeared on my FB feed a few days ago. it is a quote from author Mark Batterson which has more to it than the obligatory Pinterest image implies, I think. but then I am scarred for life by listening to those masters of irreverence on the Since Right Now podcast discussing Pinterested recovery catchphrases and summarising them with the chortled remark, “Square it up!”…
when I made the decision to take the 100 day challenge I threw my hat over the wall entirely. I put the decision as to whether or not to drink or not in a time-capsule marked ‘open in 100 days time’. and then when I got there, I crossed out ‘100 days’ and replaced it with ‘180 days’, and so on. I didn’t have the energy to spend re-making that decision every day at 6pm. I needed every scrap of strength I had for the fight. and I am winning that fight, so far. and the more I win it the less of a fight it is.
Holly at Hip Sobriety says Never Question The Decision. she has gone so far as to have nqtd as a tattoo, which I am terrifically impressed by whilst at the same time appreciating that having it engraved inside a ring might be the furthest I could personally go 😉
this approach has served me well in this and other areas. and of course that ‘one decision’ is in fact implemented by hundreds, perhaps even thousands of mini-decisions. I can see how it can seem impossible to achieve, though, if that one-off, absolute decision seems as far away as the moon.
one thing I have found to really help to strengthen that is to recruit, rather than to fight, my inner rebel.
Gretchen Rubin has come up with four categories of people (I love the saying that there are two types of people – those who put everyone into categories, and… um….)
Gretchen’s categories are Upholders, Obligers, Questioners and Rebels. there’s an explanation and a dinky quiz here. as I would have expected, I come out as an Obliger – how else would I get myself some of that delicious external validation? – but there are also some strong Rebel traits in me, too.
that Rebel voice was a big part of my past decisions to drink, helping justify unreasonable behaviour. nowadays my Rebel struts in glee in a scenario where everyone is drinking, and enjoys saying loudly at the bar, “Can I have a J20, please?”
never questioning the decision is one thing. but never truly quantifying it can cause the whole shebang to topple to the ground like a giant redwood.
I’ve recently started training for my next half-marathon. and the decision I made was to follow a training plan in which I run five times a week. when starting off I appreciated that I might not always be able to run on certain days due to weather, but broadly speaking I would do x miles a week, including y miles of a long run.
so the decision could be described as:
- I will run five times a week for a total of x miles including a long run of y miles.
the total for the first weeks of my training go like this:
Wk no: Planned miles Actual miles
1 15 15
2 17 17
3 19 19
4 21 15
5 22 20
so what happened in weeks 4 and 5? because I was still running 5 times a week. but I could not get my mileage up. the main reason for this is that I had scheduled my long run for the week-end – and I work most at weekends! so I squeezed it in on weeks 1 to 3, but on week 4 it was just too difficult, and I didn’t run at all. on week 5 I managed a short run on both weekend days, which is better than nothing, but still not enough to get me to my goal.
and I felt so discouraged, because I was trying really hard to stick to the plan, and it just wasn’t happening, because of external circumstances outside my control, and I seriously considered jacking the whole thing in, because the decision wasn’t working for me as I couldn’t stick to it.
but what I needed to do was to re-quantify the decision. make it more specific. so my unquestionable decision is now the following:
I will run five times a week for a total of x miles, including a long run of y miles on Monday or Tuesday.
and I ran 7 miles this week on Tuesday feeling like a champion, and then 3 miles yesterday and now I’ve got that mileage under my belt which will give me wings to get to this weeks’ total of 24 miles without that hideous ‘will I, won’t I?’ on Sunday. hurrah!
I was recently watching one of my children being taught an entirely new and complicated skill, and was full of admiration for his attitude. he did his utmost, he was willing to make mistakes, and he learnt from the mistakes rather than crumbling beneath them.
that’s what I’m trying to get to with my (probably tedious!) running story. after two weeks it became apparent that I had a problem, and I needed to change something up. it can be all too easy I think sometimes to compare ourselves to others, particularly in sobriety when some of us seem to go straight through, whereas others find it incredibly difficult to string together sober time.
what is key I think is not the comparing, but the learning from our OWN experiences. because one person is able to rock a drinks party three weeks into sobriety, does not mean anyone else ‘should’! what matters is not the comparison, but the doing of the decision. on a recent podcast with James Clear, he said, ‘the comparison is not the work’ and I think that is so true. by focusing on our expectations we can deprive ourselves of the energy to carry through our decisions.
if something isn’t working for us – let’s change it!
so, which of Rubin’s Tendencies are you? what does your Rebel yell?
here’s one last Pinteresty square for today! love, Prim xx