Doing What’s Necessary, What’s Possible, and What Seems to be Impossible

"Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible." – St. Francis of Assisi, Italian Catholic friar and preacher, founded the Franciscan Order, patron saint of animals and the environment (1181-1286)

How many times have we faced challenges that we think are beyond our capabilities? How often do we struggle just to make it through the day, doing what we know we have to, in order to maintain our sobriety? Sometimes, doesn’t it seem as if we’re treading water, not really making much progress at all, but not sliding backwards either? Let’s take a look at some of these in a little detail and maybe provide some helpful suggestions on how to get past them.

First, doing what is necessary is our daily routine to keep our resolve of sobriety. This includes meetings, taking proper care of our health, getting enough exercise, eating right, avoiding triggers, and dealing with cravings and urges by utilizing the strategies in our recovery toolbox. This shouldn’t be that difficult, although there will be times when it will seem like an uphill battle. At times like that, having a talk with our sponsor, our loving family members, and asking for help from our Higher Power will most likely see us through. This strategy has worked for millions of us in recovery.

What about doing what is possible? In order to take action on what is possible, we have to create a plan that includes many different goals. Start by crafting simple and reachable goals. These are what are possible in the short-term. As we reach the first goal, we should always have the next goal in mind. In fact, we should have several goals so that if one turns out to be too easy or unworkable or no longer fits with our long-term goals, we have something else to devote our energies to. Include stretch goals as well, because we never know when we’ll find that we have eked all we can out of current activities and need to push ourselves harder. All of these are what is possible. In fact, if we can think of a goal, and put it down on paper (or on the computer or in our Blackberry or iPad), then it could very well be something that is possible for us to accomplish. There’s certainly nothing lost by putting goals on our list of possibilities, is there?

Now think about the impossible? What does that mean, really? When looking at what we’d really like to do with our lives, try imagining what we believe would not only stretch our abilities but cause us to grow in both knowledge, self-confidence, self-esteem and also strengthen our foundation in recovery. It doesn’t matter right now if such goals seem out of reach. At the beginning, they probably are. But we all need dreams that we hope to attain, some vision of the future that will require us to take profound steps and work hard to achieve. This is what seems impossible, but it’s only impossible when we block out that vision due to fear.

The secret is to keep on working our recovery. First, do what is necessary, and then what is possible. Before we know it, we will be actually doing what we formerly believed was impossible. It’s like climbing a steep stairway. When we stand at the bottom and look up, the summit seems formidable, completely out of reach. We take the first few steps and realize that it’s just one step after another. We continue on. We may reach the half-way point and feel trepidation about being able to continue. That’s when we can congratulate ourselves on how far we’ve already come and then, just keep on taking one step at a time. Before long, we will reach the summit. And even then, we’re not done. There will always be another horizon that we can set our sights on, and take action to get there.

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