Almost as much as the Serenity Prayer, the phrase “one day at a time” is synonymous with recovery. The phrase is so useful that for some who are really struggling, it can be come “one hour at a time,” or even “one minute at a time!” But what does it really mean?
Just five words, “one day at a time” is a simple phrase that helps break down the enormity of what it means to get sober. For someone who can barely stay clean and sober for one hour, the idea of doing it for the days, years and decades to come can be incredibly overwhelming. Thinking of all the temptations and difficulties ahead could make someone want to throw in the towel from the start.
But this phrase reminds addicts and alcoholics with any length of clean time that no matter what you face, all you have to do is make it through the day, and you can start over refreshed tomorrow.
“One day at a time” is also helpful in structuring your life in recovery. Newcomers may have huge plans for how they want to rebuild their life. Eager to get started and make up the time addiction cost them, they risk burnout and prioritizing other goals above sobriety.
Living life one day at a time, however, means prioritizing your goals in a manageable way, and keeping sobriety in the mix. Each morning you can make a plan for how you’re going to spend your 24 hours. And at night, in your Tenth Step Inventory, you can look back and feel proud of your accomplishments. If you have a bad day, though, you get to leave that behind and start fresh in the morning, too.
But most important of all is the reminder that at any given fellowship meeting, the person with the most sobriety is the person who got up the earliest that morning. Even as you move from counting days to years, “one day at a time” is a reminder that every day you must make the choice to be sober — or take the risk that you’ll relapse.
Going to three meetings last week or working a step last month is no guarantee. What have you done for your sobriety TODAY? How are you living recovery one day at a time?