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1. Building and
Maintaining Motivation

Building and Maintaining Motivation
Are you riding an emotional wave from some crisis in your life? What happens when the crisis subsides and life returns to 'normal?' Will you still want to change? 

It's easy to make a list of annual New Year's resolutions and worthy goals – lose weight, save money, become a better parent, stop this or start that. Think of the last time you made such a list. How long did it take before your life found its way back to where it was before?

So, how do we stay motivated to make the change we sincerely want? One of the biggest challenges most people face in recovery is maintaining their motivation. "Wishing" is not a reliable strategy. Some of us talk about the changes we want to make as if just talking about them will get us there.

Motivation is key to your recovery; it's what drives you to meet your goals. Without it, you're not likely to change very much. You may not realise it but you're already motivated to change. It took motivation to get out of bed, get dress, leave your accommodation and to attend this meeting, even if someone forced you. You could have said no, but you didn't. This section will help you build on those first seeds of motivation and help you stay motivated during the change process.

You may have heard that SMART is a self-empowerment programme. It may sound a bit like pop psychology. It isn't. This concept is important as you prepare for the work ahead. You have power over the choices you make, how you behave, and the goals you set for your future.

TOOL: Hierarchy of Values

We all have values that motivate us, whether we've identified them or not. Chances are that you haven't recently thought about your values. The Hierarchy of Values (HOV) tool will help reintroduce what is most important to you. Start by writing down as many of your values as you can think of. There are no right or wrong answers as these are very personal. When you have written as many as you can, group them into main categories, ultimately narrowing your list to five. List them in order of importance in this table. If you are struggling to figure out exactly what your values or priorities are, simply consider what you spend your money on. Often this will accurately reflect, in order, what we priorities in our life and value the most. 

Download Hierarchy of Values Worksheet

Example Hierarchy of Values Worksheet
What I Value Most

Your list may look something like this:
What I Value Most 
1. My relationship with my partner
2. My children
3. My physical health
4. My financial well-being 

Look over your list again. Do you notice anything missing? It's rare that a person lists their addictive behaviour as a value even though it's likely to be the single most important priority in their life. An addictive behaviour can become a priority in your life, even though it damages everything else that you think is important.

Now, think about how your addictive behaviour impacts each of your values. Every time you engage in your addictive behaviour, you choose it over your values. You gamble with what you treasure and hold dear; you compromise your value system. Take an honest look at your list and insert your addictive behaviour where you are in fact putting your addictive behaviour. For many people, when they are honest about this, they realise it is number one, their top priority.

What I Value Most -In the Way I Live My Life
1. Engaging with my addictive behaviour
2. My relationship with my partner
3. My children
4. My physical health
5. My financial well-being

A successful recovery requires sobriety to be a valued priority in your life. Everything else that you value depends on this so it makes sense to put this as your number one priority - look after your recovery and you have made a good start to protect all the other things you value most.

What I Value Most -In the Way I Will Live My Life in Future
1. Abstaining from my addictive behaviour
2. My relationship with my partner
3. My children
4. My physical health
5. My financial well-being 

When people do this exercise, they often come away with an "ah ha" moment.

It can be helpful to carry around your completed Hierarchy of Values. Pull it out of your pocket and review it if you are not thinking clearly and have thoughts of using. You can remind yourself you were thinking better when you wrote it and considered what you want long-term. 

You may now have a clearer picture of how your addictive behaviour affects what you value most. These next two exercises will help you look deeper into what you want for yourself and help you identify specific and important goals you want to achieve to bring more meaning to your life.

EXERCISE: The Three Questions

EXERCISE: The Three Questions
Your goal is to stop using or acting out. Your desire to change is your motivation to stop your addictive behaviour. It is sometimes hard to see a difference between what you are doing and what you could do differently to achieve your goals.

This exercise can help you bring these two perspectives into focus so you can clearly see any discrepancy between them. 

Ask Yourself These Questions:
1. What do I want for my future?
2. What am I currently doing to achieve that?
3. How do I feel about what I'm currently doing? 

An Example of Answers to These Questions:
1. What do I want for my future? To be a good partner, parent, employee.
2. What am I currently doing to achieve that? Nothing, because I'm drunk and stoned all the time.
3. How do I feel about what I'm currently doing? Guilty, ashamed, depressed, frustrated, stressed, trapped. 

Now, Answer the Follow-On Questions:
What could I do differently to achieve the future I want?
How would changing what I do or getting what I want make me feel?
• What Could I Do Differently to Help Me Get What I Want?
• How Would Changing What I Do or Getting What I Want Make Me Feel?

Once you see the discrepancy between your feelings about what you're currently doing and your feelings about changing your behaviour, you can use that difference as further motivation to stop using. As you start to feel better about being abstinent, you feel more empowered to achieve your goal in #1: Be a good partner, parent, and employee. 

TOOL: Cost-Benefit Analysis

TOOL: Cost-Benefit Analysis
So far, you've identified your core values and what you want your future to look like. You also have created a plan to get there. Remember, though, your addictive behaviour will be waiting in the wings for the slightest opportunity to hijack your plans and motivation. 

Have you ever asked yourself what you get out of your addictive behaviour? You must be getting something - it's hard to imagine you'd do it if you didn't get something out of it, even if the behaviour causes you or others harm.

Do you drink because it helps you cope with the stress of being a parent or the challenges of your job? Do you find anonymous sex partners to make you feel more attractive and wanted? Do you harm yourself because it calms you?

Completing a Cost-Benefit Analysis or CBA will help you answer these questions. At some point in our lives, we told ourselves - either consciously or unconsciously - that the benefits of our behaviour outweighed the costs. But have you ever looked at your behaviour under a microscope and examined all the benefits and all the costs?

People who want to stop an addictive behaviour have two types of thinking about their behaviour, but never at the same time: Short-term thinking and long-term thinking.
Short-term thinking: Using makes you feel immediately better. 
Long-term thinking: You want to stop the behaviour to lead a healthier life.  

Because short- and long-term thinking don't happen simultaneously, the CBA brings them to one place to help you identify and compare the far-reaching consequences of your behaviour with its "right now" benefits. The CBA also will help you compare long- and short-term benefits of abstinence. To start, consider the costs and benefits of your addictive behaviour.

The Costs and Benefits of Using
Using the CBA example, start by looking at what's pleasurable about your addictive behaviour. Be as specific as possible. For example, instead of writing, "My addictive behaviour helps me cope," write how it helps you cope. "My behaviour makes me brave enough to say what I'm really feeling," or "Acting out helps me forget my loneliness." 

Benefits (advantages and rewards)
• What pleasures, benefits, or advantages does it bring to my life? 
• With what feelings or moods does my addictive behaviour help me cope (frustration, anger, fear, boredom, depression, anxiety, loneliness, stress, etc.)? 
• How does it help me cope? 
• What positive feelings, moods, or situations does my addictive behaviour make even better? 
• What things does my addictive behaviour help, or at least seem to help me do better? 
• Does it help me avoid reality or escape? 
• Does it ease or reduce physical or emotional pain? 
• Does my addictive behaviour help me socialise and fit in? 
• Do I need my addictive behaviour to seem more fun, charming, interesting, or more confident? 
• Do I need my addictive behaviour to feel normal?  

Costs (risks and disadvantages)
• What is it that I dislike about using?
• How is it harming me? 
• What will my life be like if I continue to use? 
• How much time have I lost to my addictive behaviour? 
• How many people do I lie to in order to hide my addictive behaviour? 
• How do I feel after the effects my addictive behaviour wear off? 
• How is using affecting my health? 
• What legal problems do I face because of my behaviour? 
• How does using affect my relationships? 
• What effects has it had on my self-respect and self-confidence? 

The Costs and Benefits of Not Using
Now, do the same exercise for your life without addictive behaviour. Be honest and realistic.  

• How will stopping affect my health?
• How will stopping affect my relationships with the ones I love?
• How will stopping affect my job?
• How much money can I save?
• What will stopping do to my self-respect and self-confidence? 
• Will stopping affect my ability to deal with my problems? 
• What will I do with the time freed up because I'm not pursuing my addictive behaviour? 
• What goals have I abandoned that I could accomplish?  

• What will I miss about using?
• What issues in my life will I have to find new ways to deal with when I stop using?  
• What thoughts and emotions will I have to learn to accept?  
• What will change about my life that I like now because I use? 

Download Cost-Benefit Analysis Worksheet

Example Cost-Benefit Analysis
The Substance or Activity to Consider Is: Alcohol 

Using or Doing - Label each item short-term (ST) or long-term (LT)
Benefits (rewards and advantages) 
Relieve negativity (ST) 
Relieve stress (ST) 
Feel more confident (ST) 
Socialising is easier (ST) 
Relieve physical pain (ST) 
Makes me feel "normal" (ST) 
To reach a state of oblivion (ST) 
Helps me have fun (ST)

Costs (risks and disadvantages) 
Hangovers (ST) 
Damages health (LT) 
Damages relationships (L T) 
Divorce (LT) 
Get arrested (LT) 
Financial troubles (L T) 
Lose home (LT) 
Lose family (kids, parents, siblings) (LT) 

NOT Using or Doing - Label each item short-term (ST) or long-term (LT)
Benefits (rewards and advantages)
Improves health and hygiene (LT)
Improves relationships (LT)  
Improves work and job safety (LT)  
Stay out of jail/prison (LT)  
Finances improve (LT)  
Won't lose home (LT)  
Won't lose my kids (LT)  
Regain self-respect, improve mental health (LT)

Costs (risks and disadvantages)
Get bored (ST)
Can't relieve stress (ST)
Have to manage pain other ways (ST, LT)
Have to cope with problems (ST, LT) 

Short- And Long-Term Benefits
Once you have your list of benefits and costs for each section, identify each one as either short-term benefit (ST) or long-term benefit (LT). 

Are you surprised that most of the benefits of using and costs of stopping are short-term while the costs of using and benefits of stopping are long-term? In SMART meetings, we often hear gasps from people as they realise their addictive behaviour has only short-term benefits but long-term costs.

This may be the first time you've taken a hard look at the price you - and those around you - have paid for your behaviour.

Now that you're considering your behaviour in terms of immediate and lasting benefits, the decision whether to use or stop is clearer.

Keep your CBA handy and refer to it when you have an urge. Make copies and keep them within easy reach. Make it a living document: Revise and update it whenever you need to.

The CBA is a great tool to use for any change or decision you want to make.



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