WARNING: ESTEEMABLE ACTS WILL RESULT IN SELF-ESTEEM.
1. Morning Routine: Having a solid daily morning routine that you are proud of is mission critical for sanity, serenity, and productivity. We know how our day is going to start everyday – rain or shine. And it starts with a series of little wins that get us ready to take on whatever is next. We don’t wake up scrambling and late to our first scheduled time commitment like we used to – yikes that was rushed and stressful! We love our morning at our pace. Whether it’s a half hour or hour and a half routine – we hugely recommend finding a routine that works for you to start every day. If it’s helpful, here’s ours:
We’re not perfect in following our values – but we know what they are and what we’re aiming for. We can clearly see when we’re breaking them and refer back to them when considering a decision or reflecting on a previous interaction/situation. Define your values, uphold your values and talk to someone with values when in question. With values, life and goals are worth pursuing.3. If We Want to Win – We Play with our A Team: Here’s how we think about our personal productivity and daily cognitive abilities. We start out every day with our “A Team”. They consistently hustle onto the field, play smart and efficiently, and deliver winning results. Whether we are going to put our “A Team” to productive use or not is up to us. They are going to show up either way ready to play their hearts out. Unfortunately, they are also going to be tuckered out after about seven hours of us being awake and head back to locker room. Not to fear, our “B Team” is pretty good and they hustle out on to the field. They’re not quite as good as our “A Team” but they can still play pretty well. They tire out a bit faster than the “A Team” and last about 4 hours before retiring for the day. Next up, our “C Team” takes the field. These guys can typically find their positions on the field but may or may not hustle. Sometimes they throw tantrums or wander about. They don’t quite have the focus or conditioning of the “B Team” and take off after about 2-3 hours. After the “C Team”, the rest of our teams are pretty much a bunch of knuckleheads that may or may not take the field. They are reliably unreliable and play terribly for us in shorter and shorter increments of time. More often than not they are some form of Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired (HALTing). Until we ultimately end up with our “Z Team” diving into bed. Here’s how it metaphorically looks for us in practice:
So when we have something to get done – WE PLAY WITH OUR A TEAM!!! We are also understating of our E Team or any team thereafter. We don’t put undue pressure on these teams for wins that should be left to our A Team. We’re actually just proud of them if they can get anything done. Know your teams – and go win championships.
4. What’s the Point? Before we dive into how to conquer our goals and ambitions – let’s not forget what we’re truly, ultimately striving for. What is the point? Why are we tirelessly pursuing our goals and ambitions? Where are we trying to arrive at? Most of us want to get rich – but why again? We don’t have all the answers – but we do know this parable changed our perspective on these questions big time. Today, we are grateful to live, really live, in the paradise that is North County, CA, with real sober friends and community. We hope it helps you as much as it helps us.
"But What Then, Senor?"
An American businessman took a vacation to a small coastal Mexican village on doctor's orders. Unable to sleep after an urgent phone call from the office the first morning, he walked out to the pier to clear his head. A small boat with just one fisherman had docked, and inside the boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.
"How long did it take you to catch them?" the American asked.
"Only a little while," the Mexican replied in surprisingly good English.
"Why don't you stay out longer and catch more fish?" the American then asked.
"I have enough to support my family and give a few to friends," the Mexican said as he unloaded them into a basket.
"But... What do you do with the rest of your time?"
The Mexican looked up and smiled. "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Julia, and stroll into the village each evening, where I sip [diet coke] and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, senor."
The American laughed and stool tall. "Sir, I'm a Harvard M.B.A. and can help you. You should spend more time fishing, and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. In no time, you could buy several boats with the increased haul. Eventually, you would have a fleet of fishing boats." He continued, "Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution, and move to Mexico City, then to Los Angeles, and eventually New York City, where you could run your expanding enterprise with proper management."
The Mexican fisherman asked, "But senor, how long will all this take?"
To which the American replied, "15-20 years. 25 tops."
"But what then, senor?"
The American laughed and said, "That's the best part. When the time is right, you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions."
"Millions, senor? Then what?"
"Then you would retire and move to a small coastal fishing village, where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, and stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip [Diet Coke] and play your guitar with your amigos..."5. Balance IS the Goal: We are inherently an unbalanced people and, paradoxically, genuinely perplexed and confused when we feel unbalanced and unwell. We love to focus and fixate on one or two life objectives and ignore the rest. We are constantly trying to arrive at happiness (or any synonym thereof: contentment, joy, peace of mind, serenity, satisfaction, etc.) through success and accomplishments – attaining some thing or some person. We justify relentlessly, “It’s okay that I’m miserable today and ignoring all of these other facets of life, I will be arriving at happiness soon with [insert external thing or person here].” Graduate, get the job, get promoted, get a six pack, move here, date there – happiness is just around the corner. We have addictive personalities – its our default. Here’s the truth: ARRIVING AT HAPNIESS IS A MIRAGE. It’s like were walking through a desert with certainty that “if we could just get over there” we will be happy. Only to realize that what we saw with certainty was not actually what it seemed to be, if there at all. We continue to play this game over and over again with great hope – until eventually, we were hopeless. So what’s our solution (and no, we are not doomed to hopelessness) – the only way to be sustainably and holistically happy is through tending to the many parts of us on a daily / weekly basis through the journey of life. Put another way, the ultimate goal of life is balance. And balance is not arrived at – it’s practiced every day and every week. Here’s what we consider the “parts of us” or life categories that we tend to every day (and if not every day, every week) in no particular order:
Here’s what we do – we rank where we feel we are out of 10 in every category. Maybe we’re neglecting our family or haven’t done anything active in a while. We are low in that category acknowledge it – this can be fixed. We would rather be at a 6 in every category than a 10 in two categories. Unfortunately, we have a natural tendency to slide into the latter scenario of being high in two or three life categories - AND IT SHOWS. We feel it – we know how it feels to be balanced and we know when we are out of whack. In our experience – if you want to be living your best sober life – strive for balance today and every day thereafter. Sacrificing balance in our life today for controlled focus on plans that we believe will grant us future happiness is a mirage. Oddly enough, we are objectively more productive when we are balanced than when we were “focused”. With balance, we enjoy the journey of life rather than expect to arrive at some future utopia.
6. Plan Balance – Because We Are Not: Old Benny Franklin once said, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” We’re with that. We plan our week – and more importantly – we plan balance in every week. We literally post our weekly schedule for the world to see (here). Every week includes the nine life categories mentioned in #4 above (Spirituality, Fitness & Active, Nutrition & Wellness, Community & Service, Education & Career, Family, Friends & Furry Friends, Growth & Personal Development, Money & Finance, and Fun! Fun! Fun!). We’re not perfect in following our weekly schedule but even if we hit 60% of it we have lived a pretty awesome week. Our plan is just that, a plan – not exactly what will unfold, and we don’t pass up the random opportunities that come along for a new experience.
We didn’t get sober to be miserable. We got sober to live this awesome life we have been so graciously given to the fullest. By taking time each week to plan out a balanced week and the courage to stick to it one day at a time – WE ARE ALIVE. Not just surviving like we used to – but living. What a concept! Do we have a three- or five-year plan – hell no. Sure we have some general conceptions of what we’d like in the future – a family, a house, self-esteem, etc. But, again, if we plan a balanced week one week at a time, and take each day on one day at a time – we have faith we’ll be exactly where we are supposed to be when we’re supposed to be there.
7. Goals versus Dreams: To us, the difference between a goal and a dream is simple – goals show up in our weekly plan, dreams don’t. Goals we take daily or weekly action to move toward. Dreams are nice to think about – but will most likely remain just that, dreams, until they become goals via being incorporated into our weekly schedule. Here’s a simple example in practice. Before sobriety, we dreamed about surfing. Hungover from the night before, we watched (from our car along the 101, the many lookouts or the beach itself) the lineups of surfers taking off with ease on the never-ending sets of perfect waves that crash against the North County shores. We thought, “God, those guys are alive! One day I’d like get out there.” Those were pipe dreams before heading back into an isolated drunken stupor. Today, we commit with some other sober friends to meet up and paddle out on big foamers. Do we suck, sure. Do we get better, you bet ya. Before sobriety, we dreamed about surfing. In sobriety, we make surfing a goal, put in on the weekly schedule and show up. You be the judge – if someone paddles out surfing once a week – do they surf? We think yes. Today, while definitely still kooks, we’re surfers. Want to get in shape? Put specific action on the weekly schedule and show up. Want a new job? Put specific action on the weekly schedule and show up. Want anything? Put specific action on the weekly schedule and show up. Faith without works is dead – so we work it on the daily guided by our balanced, weekly schedule. From there, we flow with faith that things will work out exactly the way they are supposed to.
8. Flow with Faith, Don’t Control in Fear: If you get this one – you’ve pretty much won at life. It’s a toughie though – we often foolishly default to accepting nothing and controlling everything no matter how miserable it makes us! Today, after some sober time and listening to wiser folks than us, we have faith that if we stay sober things will generally get better and an even stronger faith that if we do not stay sober things will get exponentially worse. More importantly, we have come to believe that we are not actually in control everything and everyone (I know, crazy!). Regardless of what we do – the sun still rises and sets, the moon takes over at night with his star buddies and the waves just keep rolling set by set to shore. So why not flow with it all? Why not have some faith its going to work out? Today we do our best to flow with faith and when we do – life is so much less stressful and just a lot more fun and exciting to live. We heard a parable in early sobriety that changed our perspective on flowing versus labeling every event a win or a loss. It hit us right between the eyes and hope it helps you too. Today we try to be like the flowing farmer rather than the rushing townspeople. Heck, every situation can be an opportunity for a new experience if we see it that way.
Maybe it is, Maybe it isn’t
There was once a farmer with a large field. One day, a team of wild horses broke through the fence around his property and trampled the field, destroying his livelihood.
“How terrible,” said the neighbors.
The farmer shrugged. “Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.”
The farmer and his son were able to tame the horses, and sold all but one for more profit than an entire year’s harvest would have brought.
“How wonderful!” declared the neighbors.
“Maybe it is,” said the farmer, “maybe it isn’t.”
One day, the farmer’s son was thrown from the horse they’d kept, breaking his leg.
“How horrible!” the neighbors cried.
“Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t,” said the farmer.
When the army passed through their village, conscripting young men to go to war, they rejected the farmer’s son because of his injury.
“How lucky!” proclaimed the neighbors.
The farmer’s response was the same: “Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t…”
9. Mentors: We have ‘em – and we suggest you get ‘em too! Re-inventing the wheel is too hard. Our approach is simple - we make anyone who we think has it going on a mentor. We don’t ask nor do they need to know they are our mentor. There was no, “Will you be my mentor?”, sign here on the dotted line or reoccurring scheduled meet up. We just ask them stuff and LISTEN to what they say. We have mentors for different categories of life – professionally, spiritually, fitness, etc. We just ask and listen. If we dig what they’re saying or want what they have enough – we try what they suggest. If it worked for them, why can’t it work for us? We, as addicts, hate to ask for help and love excuses. So keep it super simple – identify some people that you think have it going on, ask them what works for them and listen. You will be pleasantly surprised that most people will happily tell you. Then try what they suggest and come back for more. Boom – you have a network of mentors that you can turn to and are rooting for you. The sober community is really a beautiful thing.
10. Night Routine: Congrats! Another sober day in the books! Time to gear up for the most important part of the day – sleep. We’re early risers and bumbling idiots so we’re diving into bed every night absolutely exhausted. But we still have a quick nightly routine before hitting the sack. A consistent nightly routine can be especially helpful if you typically have some gas left in the tank at night. It prepares your body for what is coming up – sleep – not hours of scrolling. Tinker around with your night routine until you find the one that works in wooing yourself to sleep – that’s the right one. It it’s helpful, here’s ours: