For years I tried (unsuccessfully) to my end my substance abuse. Even though I had numerous stints of sobriety during my lifetime, I always found myself back on alcohol or drugs within a few weeks or months. I would scratch my head with a puzzled look, thinking “how could this happen again?”
I thought there was something inherently wrong with me. I was what members of the 12-Step community refer to as a “chronic relapser”. I accepted this label and used it as a justification for my inability to heal myself. After 17 years of addiction, I finally recovered, though I didn’t go to rehab or 12-Step meetings to do so. Instead, I used nutrition, supplementation, exercise, self-help books and personal development audio programs to propel me to become the man I am today.
During my self-discovery, I came to an important realization:
One of the main reasons people have such a hard time staying clean in recovery is because they don’t have a compelling future.
The Importance of A Compelling Future
In the past, I often went back to using drugs because I honestly didn’t know what else to do with my life. Life just seemed too hard. I hated most of my jobs, I never made enough money, and most importantly, I always felt like I was pushing towards some unknown destination. I knew I had to make money, pay bills, be healthy, get a girlfriend and have fun, but that picture of life never got me excited. On the contrary, it caused me to become dissatisfied and disinterested, which ultimately led me back to abusing substances.
I believe one of the main reasons I’ve had such an easy time staying clean for the past few years is because I finally have a compelling future.
com♦pell♦ing – “interesting or exciting enough to keep your attention completely.”
It didn’t happen overnight, but over the course of time, I developed a crystal clear vision of what I wanted my ideal life to look like. It took lots of soul-searching, journaling and visualizing to finally come up with this compelling future, but now I have a fire burning inside of me that never goes out. I’m finally passionate and stimulated by my goals. I have a life’s purpose and mission that allows me to do what I love, be creative and help people in ways that are deeply fulfilling and inspirational. But most importantly, I no longer have to push my way through life, because now I’m magnetically pulled to my ultimate destiny.
Design Your New Life
If you want to recover from addiction and stay clean and happy long-term, I strongly encourage you to come up with your own compelling future if you don’t already have one. Having a vision that gets your emotional juices mega-charged can launch you into a new dimension of reality. In this new dimension, there is no more suffering, and there is no more pushing with willpower alone.
You will finally feel excited about life, and your compelling future will guide your beliefs, values, decisions, and behaviors in a way that you never knew was possible. The following writing exercise can help you start designing a life that will pull you away from addiction and towards health, passion and life fulfillment.
Compelling future exercise: Be specific. What are you passionate about? What are you grateful for? Who do you love? What are you excited about? What are your biggest strengths? If you had unlimited money, but still had to choose a career, what would you do? What are some things you love to do? Who do you love to spend time with? Where are some places you would like to live and visit? What are some goals you want to accomplish? What kind of house do you want to live in? What type of relationship do you want to be in? How physically fit do you want to be? If you’re spiritual or religious, how strong is your faith? What are you future friends like? What is your future relationship with your family like?
Once you’ve answered all of the questions, feel free to write any additional thoughts as well. After you’ve written it all down, design a future life that gets you passionate. Your goal is to come up with a future that is so compelling you can hardly fall asleep at night because you’re so excited! Over the next few weeks spend at least ten minutes every morning or evening writing about and visualizing your compelling future. This momentum will put you on the fast track to a lasting recovery that has a strong and unbreakable foundation.