“Ask yourself the secret of your success. Listen to your answer, and practice it.” – Richard Bach, American writer (born 1936) When we hear the word “success,” we may have a mental picture of someone who has it made, someone who realizes his or her dreams without having to go through a whole lot of trouble to get there. Frankly, it is a lot easier to rationalize our own lack of success by putting the thought in our minds that others just have success handed to them. That way, goes our line of thinking, we don’t feel so bad about our own less-than-stellar track record in the success department. Of course, success doesn’t just get handed to anyone. There are the rare instances when an individual falls into some good fortune, such as winning a contest or the lottery, but that isn’t the result of hard work or anything other than chance. It also doesn’t mean to imply that when someone experiences good fortune that they don’t deserve it. Anyone can have good fortune. It’s a random occurrence, not something that you can count on. On the other hand, what we can count on is the likelihood that we’ll be able to accomplish what we set out to do if we are willing to put in the time and effort required to get there. There simply aren’t any free rides when it comes to success. Once we plant that thought firmly in our minds, we’ll be less likely to make excuses for why someone else succeeds and we don’t. Deep down inside, there are probably several reasons why we don’t succeed. Here are a few of them:
- We don’t think through what we’re attempting to do before we rush into the task or project. Without sufficient planning, weighing and balancing potential outcomes if we choose this path or that, we’re less likely to be successful in our endeavor.
- We are in such a hurry to achieve the goal that we’re after that we rush through the necessary steps, maybe even skipping some altogether. With such a roughshod approach, it’s no wonder that our efforts land somewhat short of the goal.
- We aren’t motivated enough to push through when we encounter obstacles along the way toward the achievement of our goal. That means we didn’t really want the goal in the first place. We may have put it down as a goal because someone else encouraged us to do so, but if our hearts aren’t in it, there’s less likelihood of success.
- We don’t believe we have what it takes to be successful. This is a big obstacle and it is one that thwarts many an individual trying to tackle various goals in recovery, especially the tough ones. It’s a whole lot easier to explain away our lack of success by saying that we have it too rough, or that we’re too new to recovery and need more time. Maybe it is true that we need more time, but we shouldn’t use that as a delaying tactic. Instead, we should keep at our goal, putting in the time and effort required in order to be successful at the end.
What, then, are the secrets to our success, once we do achieve it? For one, we need to be determined to accomplish the goal and not allow anything to dampen our determination. In the face of difficulties or obstacles, determination is one of the main characteristics that will help us see it through and not give up. Another secret of our success is flexibility. Things aren’t always going to go as planned. We may make a mistake or forget something or miss a key ingredient or step. This doesn’t mean that all is lost and that we have to abandon the goal. What may very well save the day is our flexibility to look at where we are, what’s needed to still be successful, and to alter our plan of action so that we may be able to achieve the goal after all. There’s also hope, another key factor in whether or not we’re going to be able to accomplish what we set out to do. We have to believe that we will be successful, so having hope of a favorable outcome is important. We’ve often heard that thinking positively helps pave the way for a favorable result. There’s a lot of truth in the saying. Let’s not forget understanding of our abilities. We need to know what we are capable of at this point in time before we head off down the road toward a goal that we’re really not ready for yet. This doesn’t mean that we scratch off the goal as unachievable. It just means that we may need to gain more knowledge or experience or master a new skill before we should tackle such a project or task. In the end, it would benefit each of us to have a little conversation with ourselves before we embark on new goals. Think carefully about our motivation for the goal, how determined we are to achieve it, whether we have the necessary knowledge, experience or skills to get the job done and also whether we truly want the goal and can see ourselves achieving it. Listen to what we have to say about each element because we do know, if we pay attention, what we are likely to be successful at. Of course, it’s always good to have stretch goals, ones that we can aspire to at some point later. For now, though, concentrate on what we can do in the short-term, what we can get done right now. For with each success comes a boost to our self-confidence and self-esteem. Beyond that, we’re making substantial progress in recovery, and that’s always a major benefit. One final thought is worth mentioning here. Many newcomers to recovery have not been very good at listening to themselves. In fact, their inner voice may have often told them entirely the wrong thing to do. Ample evidence of that is all the negative consequences that resulted from their giving in to the temptation to use – and all the bad things associated with addiction. So, if we have had a tendency to listen to the bad voice in our heads, recollect what we learned during rehab about relapse prevention. In addition, remember all the positive strategies and tips we practiced in treatment. They will help us navigate the somewhat uncertain times of early recovery. Bottom line: To be a success, we need to listen to ourselves and then practice what we know helps us succeed. If it works this time, make use of it again. Success builds upon success.