My Three To-Do's to Keep Moving Forward

Inspiration for Your Journey

Remember that instruction manual to life you were issued when you were growing up? That handy how-to book you could consult to decode life's challenges and difficulties?

Umm, neither do I.

And neither do most of us who've had major chapters in our lives overwritten by addiction.

One of the remarkable things about Twelve Step recovery is that it provides us with a set of instructions for life. I'm not suggesting that our way forward in recovery is necessarily easy or always clear, but we certainly have a frame of reference for handling life on life's terms—one day at a time.

I've really learned to appreciate recovery's "just for today" wisdom. It keeps me focused on the simple to-do's that add up to real progress. And that's what we're aiming for, right? Progress, not perfection.

Here are three to-do's that keep my recovery going:

Take action. Many residential programs require patients to start the day by making their bed. A seemingly inconsequential task, but a tangible accomplishment nonetheless. The satisfaction of getting something done—whether doing a load of laundry, making yourself a healthy meal, or taking a walk—has a remarkable cumulative effect. Micro-triumphs. Doable and rewarding.

Seek out inspiration. If I rely only on my own way of thinking to get through the day, I don't always fare so well. I turn to my daily meditation books for insight and inspiration, and I visit my favorite recovery websites for fresh perspectives and ideas. Music. Art. Nature. Fitness. Cooking. Creative pursuits take us out of our heads in a good way. As my favorite bumper sticker declares, "Don't believe everything you think." Fill up instead on what inspires you.

Find your people. Belonging through fellowship is probably the single factor that makes me feel the most sane. Our need for connection is as core to human survival as food, water, and shelter. Community is oxygen for me—and I'm a fairly introverted person. When I need connection I go to a meeting or call a friend in recovery. We know all too well the isolation caused by addiction. But in recovery, we belong—together.

Nell HurleyNell Hurley is the executive director of national alumni relations for the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.
Read More
Colorful bokeh of lights

I Was Alive But I Was Dying

Strength + Courage Read More >

Read More
Tools for families when their loved ones return from addiction treatment

Family and Addiction

Tools for families when their loved ones return from addiction treatment Read More >