The following post contains excerpts from Week 1 of the Fortify Program. To find more useful tips to aid you in recovery, check out the full program.
In the fight we’re exploring together, it’s easy to focus on the times we fail or fall—coming away with a vision centered only on our bad times. But what about the days that we’re strong? The times that we’re hit with the urge, but let it pass?
You may not have thought to keep track of good days, or any days, for that matter. Most people rarely pay attention to the patterns in their own experience—holding only a fuzzy picture about what’s really going on for them.
Think about your own life: How often do you turn to this stuff? What’s the longest you’ve been able to go without a setback? What time of day do you usually struggle? Is there anything else in your life that makes you more likely to use?
If you’re serious about quitting, maybe it’s time to get some serious answers to these questions. If you ask a former alcoholic how long it’s been since they had their last drink, they can often tell you down to the very hour. More often than now, they know that date as well as they know their own birthday.
Introducing Battle Tracker
To help you keep track of things, we’ve prepared a simple interactive calendar called the “Battle Tracker” that keeps a running tab of your own victories, setbacks and other details. There are both mobile and web apps available, and a paper version too. In addition to helping you see patterns in your situation, this tool will also make your own progress crystal clear. In our busy lives, it’s easy to not notice that we’ve taken a good step forward—or even set a new record. It could be easy to miss all the small successes along the way.
As your vision expands, you may discover new ways to strengthen your defenses. After noticing a pattern of late night vulnerability, for instance, maybe you decide to power-down all devices earlier in the evening to help you wind down before bed. Or you discover regular triggers on certain news sites, and decide to leave them behind—picking a few news sites you can trust. Maybe after discovering your longest streak always stops at two weeks, you make some special plans for that second week to get rejuvenated and ready to clear that next hurdle.
All sorts of other tweaks may come to mind for you—each one deepening your protection and even preventing struggles. So be on the lookout for new insights as you analyze the data in your tracker.
Using Battle Tracker To Set Goals
Have you ever seen a two year old get excited after being told he’ll get ice cream after 7 days of “good behavior?” No way. Too far away, right? Too vague. Too impossible to achieve! You’re no toddler, but the same principles apply to all of us. If our goals are too vague, aimed at ‘sometime in the future’ and with no way to know if we reach them, they may not be very motivating.
This doesn’t mean we can’t also set lofty goals that stretch us and do seem impossible—like “I’m climbing Everest!” On our way up the mountain, however, it can be helpful to set our eyes on targets we can actually see up ahead. That’s why some people aim for goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. These are called “SMART” goals.
For instance, it’s great to have a long-term goal of “beating porn,” or “becoming free.” The question becomes, what does stepping in that direction look like in the here and now. What kind of markers or targets can you lay down this month, this week, or even this day?
The combination of tracking and challenging yourself can be powerful in helping you avoid some of the discouragement that can come with setting goals. Remember, goals are “stars to shoot for”; not “sticks to beat yourself with.”
Seeing The Big Picture
Like everything in Fortify, we’re not interested in only outer change. So we’re going to be reminding you to keep watching what’s going on inside—checking out your core desires. What’s going on internally as you track victories and battles? How are you approaching this—and how is it influencing both inner and outer change?
Some have mentioned feeling discouraged when they see the setbacks showing up in the Battle Tracker, compared to when they’re just racking up the victories. In the event that you record a set-back, don’t be discouraged by that.
What if you were fighting in a war and received new intelligence that shows where you will be attacked next. That information would be incredibly valuable in defending yourself, right?
That’s how we see this Fight as well; rather than seeing mistakes as some kind of crisis, let’s start approaching those moments as important teachers. Each one an opportunity to learn more and deepen our awareness of what’s going around us—and inside us.