At the end of the day yesterday, my lead pastor poked his head in my office as he was on his way out the door to go to the gym. Since he was standing there in his sneakers and sweatpants, we chitchatted for a few minutes about diets, workout routines, and aversions to workout routines. We landed on the topic of cardio, and he remembered, "You really don't like running, do you?" I said, "I really wish I liked running." Then I caught myself and added, "But I keep getting prompted to train for a 5k, and I'm really trying to want to do that." He looked at me for a moment, then said, "You always like to have a goal, don't you?" I nodded. "Yeah. I have a hard time doing anything 'just because.'"
Sometimes, I hear folks in recovery saying, "I can’t do this for anyone else--I need to do this for me." I wince a little inside. I mean, I get the sentiment; I remember saying the same thing at some points. Sure, it's important to get our priorities straight. Yes, personal accountability is essential. We are, in fact, the only ones who can truly impact our own personal wellbeing. We're the only ones who can choose to do what is right for us. Sometimes (oftentimes) that means choosing to do what is right for us in direct opposition to what other people think we should be doing. So yes, there's a “me” factor… but I gotta tell ya, these days, if I’m just “doing it for me,” that feels pretty empty to me.
On the flip side, we can be just as short-sighted in terms of the “other people” factor. When we're setting goals for ourselves on behalf of other people, it's easy to make our goals conditional on those other people. "My family needs me to be sober; I can stay sober as long as my family supports me." Okay, well, what if your family lets you down? What if your family gets tired of supporting you and wants you to stand on your own two feet? What if your family doesn't really like the way you live your life when you're sober? Then who will you stay sober for? Or we make our goals dependent on other people without setting clear expectations. "I'm going to save money this winter to give my family a nice vacation next summer, and they're going to appreciate it." What if you work a bunch of overtime and make a ton of sacrifices, and your family only complains about all the time you're away from home? What if your family just keeps spending the extra money, and still expects you to provide the vacation? Then who's to blame?