In the simplest terms, persistence refers to having both the desire and the will to continue working towards a goal regardless of the obstacles you might face. At one point, persistence was believed to be an inborn character trait that gave some people an innate advantage throughout their lives. Today, however, we know that this is a skill that you can work to acquire as part of your recovery efforts.
How Persistence Promotes a Lasting Recovery
No matter where you’re at in your recovery journey, persistence helps you continue to move forward. For example, persistence plays a vital role in:
- Resisting cravings
- Feeling confident enough to decline offers of drugs and alcohol in social settings
- Repairing relationships that have been damaged by past addiction-related behavior
- Building connections with people in the recovery community
- Working towards specific life goals such as getting your own apartment, finding a new job, or going back to school
- Getting back on track after a relapse
When you seek residential addiction treatment, you’ll work on building the skills that form the foundation for sobriety. At Mountain Laurel Recovery Center, we encourage clients attending our Pennsylvania residential addiction treatment program to work on developing persistence via individual, group, and family therapy. We stress that recovery is about more than merely abstaining from addictive substances—it’s about taking a completely new approach to handling day-to-day challenges.
The Well-Known Self-Help Program
SMART Recovery, the well-known self-help program for people in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, encourages people to work towards increasing their level of persistence so they are better equipped to face the challenges associated with their newfound sobriety. One of their popular sayings is “Patience, Practice, and Persistence” to reflect the values of:
- Being patient with yourself
- Practicing what you learn
- Being persistent in your efforts
On a similar note, the Alcoholics Anonymous mantra “One day at a time” refers to the persistence necessary to tackle addiction. It reminds those in recovery that change doesn’t happen overnight—it takes continued effort and focused determination.
How to Develop Persistence
If you want to increase your persistence, here are some tips that can help:
- Make a schedule. Scheduling your time helps you stay on track by creating clear expectations. When scheduled routines become an automatic habit, you expend less mental effort to make positive choices.
- Determine your motivation. Think about why you decided to get sober. Were you concerned about your health? Were you worried about the impact your substance abuse was having on your loved ones? Did you experience a personal “rock bottom” moment that served as a wake-up call? Write in your journal about the factors that motivated your decision to enter recovery and refer back to this page whenever you’re feeling discouraged.
- Identify your wants and desires. What do you imagine life in recovery will look like? Having short-term and long-term goals gives you a clear idea of what you’re working towards. Creating a vision board to serve as a visual reminder of your goals may be helpful.
- Accept that you’ll have bad days. Progress doesn’t happen overnight, regardless of what you’re trying to achieve. An athlete is bound to lose an important game or get injured. A writer or musician is bound to experience bad reviews or times when they’re not feeling particularly creative. It’s OK if you have setbacks and challenges—the important thing is that you continue to try your best to move forward.
- Create a strong support system. Successful people know when to ask for help. Relying on friends, family, and your treatment team isn’t a sign of weakness—it’s an indication that you’re mature enough to realize that a strong sober support network sets the stage for success.
- Find a hobby. Hobbies help teach persistence by encouraging you to work towards improving your skills in an area where you feel passionate. Success in a new hobby can also serve as the self-esteem boost you need to be more persistent in your recovery.
- Resist the victim mentality. When you continually see yourself as a victim of circumstances beyond your control, you lose confidence in your ability to make positive changes. You deserve to be the hero in your story. Regardless of what has happened in the past, it’s within your power to choose a better tomorrow.