Sometimes progress is small and easy to miss if you’re not watching closely. I used to have a calendar that I would use to track my progress from month to month. I stopped trying to be perfect and instead started working on just doing better than the last month. For me, overcoming addiction to pornography took time and was more of a process than an quick change. This calendar helped me to see my progress and gave me the confidence I needed to keep going. I would put an “X” on each day I did good and write “success” under that at the end of the day. Some days I would put the “X” but then I would write “part success” because I had partly slipped up that day. I didn’t do enough to call the day a failure so I celebrated my restraint even if it was not the day I had hoped for. On days I did completely bad I would just leave that day blank. So at the end of the month I would count all the blank days and compare it to the last month. Usually the number of slip up days were less than the last month and I was progressing.
It’s a dangerous thing to expect perfection on the journey to change. This is a time of much needed patience and much mercy towards yourself as you learn to quickly pick yourslef back up and try again. I would look at something I new I shouldn’t and get so discouraged that I would just give up. I noticed I did the same thing when I played sports. Anytime I was on the top of my game I was feeling great but the moment I missed a shot or someone easily got around me, I was discouraged and stoppped trying as hard. I learned to do better by watching other players quickly recover from mistakes. Then I started to learn from my mistakes and make adjustments to play better. Once I started acknowledging my discouragement and deciding to move on quickly and adjust my playing style, I started to become a better player at whatever sport I was playing. So, I started to apply the same theory to my porn addiction and it worked. I looked at slip ups as learning opportunities and asked myself, “what can I do better to avoid repeating that mistake”. This won’t take away all the discouragement at first but the discouraged feelings fade a lot faster this way. By the way, after 100o’s of bad days I noticed a pattern. The pattern for me was that if I had a bad day or days and decided to stop, it took one to two days for me to feel strong and commited again. For example, I decide today to stop my addiction but for the first day or two there is a lot of reistance to this coming from within myself. It’s hard to explain except to say that if you make yourself get through these couple of days it gets a lot easier.
Another thing to remember is you need to focus on your goals and not just the result of your goals. What I mean by this is I wanted freedom from pornography more than anything and that’s all I thought about. This was not a goal, it was a result of a lot of small goals. I would always set this goal but it would always seem so far away and I would get discouraged and give up easily. Freedom from pornography or whatever addiction is your target but not the goals you need to start with. Break it down into small, achievable goals. You need these to gain confidenc and keep progressing otherwise you feel like you’re getting nowhere. For example, a realistic goal of mine was to be completely free from my pornography addiction in six months. Because this was such a difficult thing to overcome I had to break it down into days and mark my calendar. Once I passed a month, even though I didn’t keep all my one day goals, I committed or made a goal to do better the second month. Like I said before, you need to have and celebrate the success of smaller goals to get the momentum going. You don’t get a four year college degree by just contrentrating on the end result of holding that diploma. Yes, that is your target, but you break it down into semesters and weeks or even days you need to study. Break it down to small manageable goals even if it means breaking it down to hours. This way you are not overwhelmed but instead moving right along. Always reward your self in some way for reaching a goal even if it is a small reward like telling yourself “good job buddy” 🙂 Steve Pavlina has some interesting insights on goals as well.