Recovery and Learning to Respect Your Limits, Part 2

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10 Ways to understand your personal recovery ‘sweet spot’

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“Improve a little each day. It compounds. When 1% compounds every day, it doubles every 72 days, not every 100 days. Compounding tiny excellence is what creates big excellence.” James Altucher

As I wrote in the first part of this series, recovery is about learning how to accept your limits and also pushing against them. Some of our limits are real and need to be accepted, while other limits are really just in our minds. Learning the difference can make the difference in our recovery.

Understanding your growth sweet spot is difficult. So I consulted three of my friends who have experienced a significant recovery and asked them about how they have discovered their personal growth sweet spot. The one thing that I learned is that understanding your personal sweet spot is just that: personal. No one else can tell you how far is enough.

Steve Austin

Steve is author of three books, he is a blogger and podcaster. Steve had a suicide attempt four years ago. Today he is healthy in his mind, body and spirit. Healthy for Steve does not mean perfect, because he has to work at his recovery every day. Steve shared three things that help him to know each day how far is enough:

1.Set boundaries – Normally we think of boundaries as a communication strategy in our relationships. Boundaries do that, but you also should set boundaries for yourself and respect them. Plan time for work, for family and unstructured time for yourself.

It’s hard to take care of myself, to acknowledge my limits and make my health a priority, but it’s worth the fight. I’m fighting for the people I love. And I’m fighting against whatever tries to pull my focus on anything that doesn’t support me and make me better.

2.Listen to your body – Get proper sleep and don’t stay up all night binging on the Walking Dead or Game of Thrones. Self-care means not staying up all hours of the night to binge on my favorite show or read just one more chapter. I find when I’m tired, my symptoms are worse.

3.Stop before you reach your edge –  Learn to say “No.”

Since my suicide attempt, I have learned to accept my limitations and my need to say “no.” I have learned that boundaries protect us and point us toward the people and things that truly matter. Now, I decline more projects than I accept. I have learned to choose only activities that add value to my life, my marriage, or my family. I have learned to say no. And I’m happier than I have ever been.

Rick Fortier

Rick went through rehab and now is living a life of truth and connection. He is a writer and motivational speaker. Rick shares a few ways that he has learned about his personal growth sweet spot.

4.Have a plan and make small improvements each day – This flies in the face of the “Push until you drop” culture that we live in. Rick has learned that the pressure from our culture to succeed can erode your soul.

Life happens: so adjust your schedule/goals/priorities accordingly – don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Give yourself permission to know there will be mis-steps and be okay with it.  Realign/adjust your plan (this takes some of the pressure off of “pass/fail” mentality).

5.Listen to other people, but more importantly listen to yourself. Learn from other people, how they have become successful reaching similar goals to your own. But know that they cannot teach what works for you. Understanding your sweet spot is trial and error. You have to push a little and then listen to your body.

Learn from others that have been successful but tailor it for you. There is no “one-size” fits all.

6.Have a solid foundation you can rely on or fall back to – places, people, activities that bring a state of neutrality and/or peace, and decide who you are – your character, then be integral and authentic.

7.Ensure you have a balanced approach to lifedon’t replace one set of addictive or out-of-balance tendencies  for another. Take a holistic approach to the process: mental, physical, emotional and spiritual.

Ryan Hall

Ryan is a novelist and life/creativity coach. He works with creative powerhouses who want to kick their lives and projects into high gear, so they can set the world on fire with their brilliance.

8.Take small steps – Realize that life is a process. Often, we can adopt the attitude: “If I’m not there NOW, I’m never going to get there.”

The old saying comes to mind – what’s the best way to eat an elephant? Get a knife and fork and take one bite at a time. A lot of people aren’t comfortable with the idea of baby steps. You’re either there or you’re not. And that gets a lot of people in trouble.
9.Go ahead and run hard, but pace yourself – Running hard is a good thing… but understand that life is not a sprint to the finish.
When we treat personal growth as a marathon and not a sprint, that’s when the transformation really takes hold. 
10.Develop SMALL goals. Have a long term goal, but break it into smaller daily and even weekly efforts so that you know how pushing a little today will build momentum towards your bigger goal.
I coach that if you have a goal a long way off, break it down into small milestones and it’ll stick a lot harder.

Go ahead and push yourself, a little more. But know well in advance when you are at your limits. Then stop. Push yourself, but also take time to stop and enjoy the moments of your life.

I would like to thank Steve Austin, Rick Fortier and Ryan Hall for their most helpful contributions to this piece. You can find out more about the work that they do by clicking on their links above.

If you enjoyed this article, you will want to see some of my other work:

Recovery and Learning to Respect Your Limits, Part 1

In Recovery, Your Destination is Not Your Destiny

When is Being Good a Bad Thing?

I write articles about wellness, leadership, parenting and personal growth. My hope is to deliver the best content I can to inspire, to inform and to entertain. Sign up for my blog if you want to receive the latest and best of my writing. If you like what I have to say, please share my work with your friends.

Lastly, if you like my writing, you can click here to vote for my page on Psych Central’s list of mental health blogs.

Keep it Real

Photo by Petr Cizek

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