"You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take." - Wayne Gretzky, retired Canadian-born professional National Hockey League (NHL) ice hockey player who played for four teams in 20 seasons, nicknamed "The Great One," and often called "the greatest hockey player ever" (born 1961) Nothing ventured, nothing gained. We've heard that adage more than once, right? Well, it also applies to not being able to succeed if we don't even try. And that includes anything we want for ourselves in recovery, whether it's being afraid to try something new because we've never done it before or we're conditioning ourselves not to raise our expectations because we know, deep down inside, that we don't deserve to succeed. How can we hope to succeed if we don't get out there and do anything? Sitting by the wayside and being critical of others is the lazy man's way of avoiding action. We don't want to exert ourselves, so we rationalize our way out of doing anything by calling out what we see are the missteps of others. It's so easy being hypocritical. But it doesn't do us any good. For one thing, when we fail to act, we have no idea what we're missing out on, what kind of opportunities we will never see simply because we prefer to lock ourselves away in the narrow confines of our immediate environment. This encompasses more than just geographic location. It also means locking ourselves inside a set of self-imposed restrictions and limitations that preclude us from taking any action at all. Many of us in recovery, probably most of us, can relate to this feeling of being trapped. At first, when we entered recovery, we may have been understandably afraid of what sober living would be all about. It seemed so limiting, so daunting, so unlike what we had known that we wanted to run in the opposite direction. Frankly, many of us contemplated returning to our drug of choice. At least there we knew what to expect. We'd had a great deal of experience doing so. It was what we did. But now that we're firmly committed-on most days, that is-to remaining clean and sober, we have to face the fact that we need to look beyond what are perceived deficiencies and inadequacies and begin to take steps to firm up our foundation of recovery. We need to venture into the unknown, not blindly, but with a good grasp of where we are going. We need consistency in our actions. We need guidance and advice that we're making the right choices. We also need unwavering support and encouragement. Some days, let's face it; we don't see the direct result of our actions. There are times when things just seem to stay the same, despite all the effort we may have exerted in trying to achieve a goal or complete a task. But that doesn't happen every day. There are those days, rare though they may seem, when everything we set out to do we accomplish. How great we feel when this happens. But there's an even better outcome, one that we may not fully realize or even recognize without help. That is the opportunities that present themselves to us in the course of our going through our recovery tasks and projects, in pursuit of goals we've set out for ourselves. Opportunities come in all kinds of shapes and guises. They may be hidden beneath seemingly impossible tasks. We may learn of an opportunity from someone we meet at work or school or church or during a recreational activity or hobby. Sometimes, we discover a new direction in the course of taking classes or as a result of having completed a course. The next logical step becomes readily apparent. All that's required is that we continue on the path we're on. We're bound to learn something new, since we're involved in a building of our knowledge base. At the conclusion of that set of courses or series of levels of achievement, we find that we have amassed considerable knowledge in an area that not so long ago we were deficient in. It's a good feeling, but beyond just feeling good about our accomplishment and ourselves, this also opens up potential new avenues to pursue - maybe even something that we never before dared to dream we could tackle. Since none of us knows what lies in store for us, isn't the wisest approach to look at what life offers to us today as the chance to discover something new? Whatever it is, whether it's going out of our way to be nice to a stranger or buying that book on creating an organic garden or figuring out clever ways to repurpose things we no longer want or need, there's a positive that awaits us - if we open our minds up to the possibilities. And that's what living in productive recovery is all about, making use of the opportunities and taking advantage of the bountiful gifts present all around us. We can also give back to others along the way, thus further strengthening both our recovery foundation and helping others to find their way as well.