By: Marilyn L. Davis
Measure Your Success from Various Perspectives
“I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.”―
When we recognize that we are both the student and the teacher on any given day, it makes success attainable. Looking at what success is according to a dictionary, it’s “attaining wealth, prosperity, or fame.” It’s also achieving your goals and realizing your dreams.
How Were You a Success Today?
The only person who can answer that is you. But I can share some ways that you may not have thought of that might expand your perception of whether you’ve been successful today.
1. Did you help someone else achieve their recovery goals?
That may be listening and then giving them some suggestions that have worked in your life. That might be telling them where to find the information they need in a book, online, or at meetings. If you did either of those things, then you’ve been a successful teacher today.
2. Did you have a craving today and not use drugs or alcohol?
Long-term recovery doesn’t guarantee us complete freedom from cravings. I know some would disagree with me; however, my experience in 32 years of abstinence-based recovery is that some things do trigger using. I also know those thoughts about using don’t harm me if I don’t pick up. So, don’t criticize yourself if you thought about using today. You can also process these thoughts by remembering what a relapse would do to you and your family.
3. Did you learn a new way to process something in your recovery?
There is a wealth of information out there about addiction. Whether it’s a Facebook room where you asked a question, a news article about how the government is trying to cope with the opioid epidemic, or stating a problem at a meeting, there are answers out there for you. If you learned something new today, then you’ve been a successful student.
4. Did you make progress in your recovery or life goals?
I think it’s been hard to see our accomplishments during COVID-19. We’re isolated and don’t have the same feedback or praise from our socially distanced network. It’s now up to us to acknowledge our accomplishments. I had to pat myself on the back more than once for getting my memoir, Finding North: A Journey from Addict to Advocate, published. It wasn’t that others weren’t cheering me on, but there wasn’t instant feedback.
5. Did you encourage someone today?
I appreciate that on several of my Facebook groups, the administrators welcome the new members, and we all add a welcoming comment, too. Most of the time, it’s a welcome, glad you’re here, or if someone is celebrating a recovery anniversary, we join in and offer our congratulations or tell them that they are inspiring. None of these comments take much time, but it shows we care and encourages someone else.
Do you compare your success to someone else?
I’d ask you not to compare yourself to others. In recovery, we’re often aware of how much more time someone has than us. I can remember comparing when I first got into recovery. I thought I wasn’t doing as much as someone with twice the amount of time I had. I stopped comparing and measured my success based on, “Am I a better person today than I was yesterday?”
When you teach, and when you learn, both of those are successes and can make a difference in not just someone else’s life but yours. We all can be teachers. I hope that what I write teaches somebody that recovery works, or I give them some solutions that have worked for me. So, I’d like to think that my writing helps someone. Maybe you don’t write as I do, but you can live a life that teaches by example.
Marilyn L. Davis is the Editor-in-Chief at Two Drops of Ink and From Addict 2 Advocate. She encourages people to submit guest posts to both sites. She is also the author of Finding North: A Journey from Addict to Advocate available on Amazon.