I recently had a conversation with someone where I mentioned that getting sober was a lot like launching your own business. It was a flippant remark, but I thought about it afterwards, and it does kind of make sense. In fact, it seems reasonable to me that alcoholics could learn at least eight important things from business entrepreneurs:
Have a Vision for the Future
At the end of my drinking, I would have been happy just for the pain to stop, but I doubt this would have been enough motivation to keep me sober long-term. The problem here is that after a bit of time it is easy to forget our suffering, and this means that the motivation that got us that far dries up. I needed to have a positive vision that would really get my juices going. I imagined a future where I got to experience plenty of inner peace and contentment. This was the desire that led me into addiction in the first place, so I knew it was powerful enough to help me escape. If you develop a clear vision for the life you want to experience away from alcohol, it will add to your motivation to quit.
Set Clear Goals
I must have tried to give up alcohol at least a thousand times. Some of these attempts only lasted a few hours but sometimes I’d remain sober for a few months – once even for two years. A common reason for why I’d fail in these attempts was that I didn’t have clear goals. I would just have some vague reason for quitting (there would usually be a ‘should’ in there somewhere), and I’d have no plan for what to do with my new sober life. This failure to set a clear goal meant that as soon as things became bumpy I’d abandon ship – I’d no real reason not to. It was only by setting clear goals for my recovery that I could start to make progress.
Understand that the Excuses are Worthless
Alcoholics are highly skilled when it comes to finding reasons for why we can’t walk away from our addiction. We will use these excuses like badges of honor and insist that this gives us a free-pass to remain as we are. The reality is that these excuses aren’t worth shit. They just mean that we remain powerless because no matter what the suggested path of recovery we will have a good excuse to reject it. We have to stop focusing on all the things that don’t work for us and find something that will work for us.
Be Willing to Do Whatever It Takes
My half-hearted attempts to break away from alcohol never lasted. It was always the things that I wasn’t willing to do to remain sober that became my undoing. At the end of my drinking, I became willing to do whatever it took, and I really meant it. At that time in my life I’d grown to dislike recovery fellowships, but I would have been willing to spend the rest of my life going to meetings if I thought it was my only option – luckily it wasn’t. Are you willing to do whatever it takes to escape addiction?
Surround Yourself with the Right Resources
It is a bit of a myth that successful entrepreneurs get to where they are by being a one-man-show. The secret to their success is that they surround themselves with the right resources. This same rule applies in recovery. We need to make use of all those things that will help us build a great new life.
Keep an Open Mind
Alcoholics can be incredibly arrogant and closed-minded. Despite the fact that their life is a complete mess, they will still be full to the brim with opinions, and be convinced they know better than everyone else. It was this attitude that held me back for years. In order to escape alcoholism, we need to have a bit of humility and be open to the possibility that we are full of shit.
Don’t Listen to People Who Want to Hold You Back
Most entrepreneurs will have needed to deal with the naysayers – those people who mocked their ideas or encourage them to quit. This is something that people trying to break away from alcohol are likely to face as well. The sad truth is that there are some people out there who prefer us as failures – it makes them feel better about themselves. If we listen to these negative voices, we will never achieve anything in life.
Learn from Failure
I don’t believe that relapse is a ‘normal’ part of recovery. It is a shitty thing to happen, and it means that we are going to be facing another large dose of suffering. We only really fail in life though, when we stop trying. It is our job to pick ourselves up right away and get back to the drawing board. If we can learn from our mistakes, it will not be a complete failure. Most of the entrepreneurs have a lost history of failed projects behind them, but they kept on trying new things until they found success.