“If you’re going to be thinking, you may as well think big.” – Donald Trump, American business magnate, TV personality and author (born 1946)
Why do we limit ourselves when it comes to thinking and planning goals for our future? One reason may be that we’re not used to thinking big, as in contemplating a reality beyond what we know now. We may reason, or, more often than not, feel that we cannot possibly achieve more, considering our past, our addiction, and all the misfortune, misery and pain we’ve caused others as well as ourselves.
But we’d be wrong in thinking or feeling that way. It’s not a mistake, just a common occurrence. The good news is that there is a way out of this kind of tunnel thinking. We don’t need to resign ourselves to a limited future or confine ourselves to just a narrow spectrum of potential success. We can take a different approach, although it may require us to initially feel a little uncomfortable.
Getting outside our narrow constricts, our self-imposed limitations, is never easy. It helps to have someone to mentor and guide us, perhaps someone whose path we would like to emulate or whose success is something that we can perhaps pattern our own after. Not in the sense that we’re copying another’s path exactly, just that we’re using it for inspiration.
And we all need a little inspiration now and then to get us off the dime and moving toward taking action. Inaction is probably the cause of many a failed dream. And inaction is something that each of us has to deal with in our own way and in our own time. Not everyone’s solution to marshalling enthusiasm and drumming up motivation to act will be the same, nor should it be. Suffice to say that whatever technique or strategy we employ to spur ourselves into action is the one we should take. Don’t expect it to work every time, but the fact that we’re able to figure out what will make us spring into action one time will likely prompt additional ideas when the time comes.
Now, about thinking big. There’s really no downside to it, even though we may put that up as an obstacle. When we tell ourselves that we don’t have what it takes or that goal is too out of reach, we’re really creating our own barriers where they may not even exist. Nothing that is worthwhile is going to come cheaply or easily, so we need to be prepared to put in the effort required in order to achieve each and every goal we set for ourselves.
So, why not dream big while we’re at it? Surely we know that there are certain absolute goals that we need to have, including our sobriety milestones (30-, 60-, 90-day, six months, one year, and so on), gaining the confidence to be able to handle unexpected challenges without retreating to alcohol or drugs. Those are critical to our being able to build a solid foundation in recovery and it goes without saying that they will occupy our time in the first few days, weeks and months of recovery.
Yet, there will come a time, and it’s not all that far off, when we’ll begin to feel a bit restless, maybe even stagnated or bored. This is a sign that we need to figure out something that gets us excited, that makes us eager to get up in the morning and go to work achieving it. What that goal may be will likely change over time. The more goals we achieve in the meantime, the more we should tack on to our list so that we will always have goals on the horizon that we can strive towards.
What’s the biggest goal we can think of? Is it being financially independent again – or for the first time? Is it being able to buy a house to provide a secure and stable environment for our family? Is it finally securing a promotion or getting a better job or being recognized for our talents? List the biggest goals we can conjure up. Brainstorming with a spouse or loved one is fine. The more heads working on the issue the better. Just make sure that they mean something to us. If we’re not really jazzed about a goal, we’re not likely to do what it takes to accomplish it.
If we need help to get where we want to go, figure out what is required, how long it will take, and then get busy tackling the goal. For example, it may be that the job we really want is in another industry. We will likely need training or a different skill set in order to be considered for the position. Perhaps we’ll need to go back to school to begin or complete our education, get an advanced degree, or simply to gain knowledge and experience in the field. We may need an introduction or to go through some kind of apprenticeship. Whatever it takes, figure it out ahead of time and then lay down action plans on how to go about achieving the goal step by step.
In the final analysis, thinking big is just the first phase of goal-setting. We have to imagine ourselves doing something other than what we’re currently doing. It doesn’t come naturally to many newcomers to recovery, especially if they’re still reeling from the unfamiliar feeling of being clean and sober and having their minds unclouded by alcohol and drugs for the first time in quite a while. Thinking big entails using logic and planning, but it also means allowing ourselves to entertain possibilities – to picture ourselves as a success in various types of scenarios.
Don’t we all need something big to work towards? Keep in mind that the big may seem small to someone else, but it’s what’s important and meaningful to us that really counts here. After all, we’re the ones that will need to do the work to achieve the goal. So, let’s get at it. Think big, and act accordingly.