In Search of Lost Time: 6 Ways To Make The Best Out Of The Rest Of Your Life
While working through the steps of recovery, you’re bound to come across painful reminders of things you wish you’d done differently. Especially if you spent years in addiction, there will probably be moments of despair over what you could have done with time now gone forever.
It’s true that lost time is never found again. You may never be able to undo all the damage done by addiction. You can, however, turn the ruins of your past into building blocks for your future.
Never Let Regrets Rule
Harvey Mackay said, “Don’t worry about what you could do if you lived your life over. Get busy with what’s left.” In other words, don’t waste more of your life wishing for impossible second chances. Your second chances are in front of you: take hold of them right now.
Don’t let guilt become procrastination’s accomplice. Whenever you catch yourself thinking “I failed before,” stop and affirm your strengths, your goals and your commitment to future growth.
Look Beyond What You’re Used to
The main reason people do stupid things over and over is that even the most self-destructive habits create a psychological “comfort zone” that feels unnatural to violate. Neale Donald Walsch said, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone,” but you can’t take the first step beyond until you’re willing to face up to the uncomfortable aspects of that zone.
Are you ready to choose good health over artificial stress relief, true friendship over desperation to please, the rewards of adventure over boring “safety”? Where you can answer “yes,” you’ll find yourself making better use of time than ever before.
Keep an Eye on the Speedometer
Like Lewis Carroll’s Red Queen, we often act as though it were normal to run twice as fast as our fastest if we’re to have any hope of getting anywhere. And if you feel guilty about years of lost productivity from past addiction, it may be especially tempting to work twice as hard in the name of making up for lost time.
Don’t. The dash-and-crash approach will do more harm than good to your overall effectiveness. Many recovering addicts have tried that before, anyway, and have it to “thank” for triggering the original addiction. Keep healthy balance in your life, and live life at a healthy speed.
Embrace Long-Term Progress
You’re at greater risk of racing through your daily duties—without ever getting anywhere worthwhile—if you see no purpose in them beyond making it through the day. Still, you may hesitate to commit to longer-term goals when time left for achieving them looks uncomfortably limited.
A common excuse for not pursuing dreams in middle age is, “But if I start working on that degree now, I’ll be fifty-five years old by the time I earn it!” Well, you’re presumably going to reach fifty-five anyway, with fifteen or twenty years left to use whatever you’ve learned in the interim. Do you really want to arrive with nothing new achieved except grayer hair?
Get into the Flow of the Present
Interestingly, those who achieve most for the future put the best of themselves into the present—not by worrying about getting everything done “right” and on time, but by enjoying the work for its own sake. A mind unencumbered by anxiety does the best and most purposeful work.
The popular book Finding Flow offers ideas for achieving a “constant enjoyment” mindset. Here are a few:
- Know what you’re really passionate about—activities where you need no “obligation” to motivate you.
- Nurture healthy relationships.
- Choose leisure activities that offer some challenge.
Remember Your Higher Power
However you personally understand the “Higher Power” of the 12 Steps, everyone believes to some degree that Someone or Something sees the broad picture better than we do, and can work things out for the best without our having to personally take responsibility for planning everything. If you can accept that—and can accept your own lack of complete control over whatever happens—you’ll be less upset over years wasted in addiction, and more confident that a wonderful future will find you yet.
No, lost time is never found again. Instead of looking for it or mourning for it, cultivate the habit of unwrapping each new day as a unique gift!