Recently, I asked a guy who I helped get sober two years ago about what it takes to go “above and beyond” in recovery. He reminded me of some of the fundamental principles that are used in 12-Step rooms, outlined by the slogans. He said, “To go above and beyond, you need to stay grounded in the present, and do the next right thing.” He told me, “Getting into my first meeting was a feat in itself. The biggest hurdle I faced was going to that first meeting. But once I realized I was in the right place, that I belonged, things became easier. When I was irritable or upset back then, my sponsor would say ‘Easy Does It!’ I remember one day, with 60-days of sobriety I called my sponsor, crying in a parking lot, worried about how to go into a first date in recovery. And he said, ‘Keep It Simple!’ He told me to take First Things First, to pray, to Turn It Over, and to stop worrying about what someone else would think of me. Those slogans were so critical for me, to prepare me to go above and beyond.”
Following your aftercare plan is crucial in early recovery. Making it to appointments, going to meetings, sharing with others – it is all important. Following directions and suggestions of others in recovery prepares you to achieve goals and accomplish things you never thought were possible. Sometimes going above and beyond involves making yourself available to help others. Doing the small things, remaining connected to others in recovery, showing up on time, thanking others when they reach out to you. When you take care of your responsibilities in recovery and remain grounded in the present, you surpass the obstacles and roadblocks that prevented you from achieving goals in the past.
If you remain in recovery and develop a meaningful spirituality that gives you the strength to ask for help and rely on others in recovery for guidance, you will surpass your goals. You will have the courage to do the next right thing. You will achieve things that you never thought you could achieve. You will find yourself feeling grateful for being alive and helping others. But humility is very important, staying “right sized” while doing the next right thing is essential. Recovery is intensely personal and if you focus on comparing yourself and your progress to others, you will miss what you need to do to go above and beyond. It takes courage to do the right thing, to take chances and action you would not otherwise take.