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3 Ways I Focus on Solutions, Not Problems

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The kids won’t go to sleep. The neighbor’s dog won’t stop barking. The HOA fees are due and I’m broke. The IRS won’t leave me alone. My child is sick. The hot water heater broke. That person won’t just do the right thing.

Ugh, what a day. Mommy needs to unwind. Pop, pour, sip, gulp, numb. Or at least – that’s how it used to be. Ignore the solutions, gripe about the problems, stay in the vicious cycle.

Today I may have 99 problems, but a relapse ain’t one.

Don’t get me wrong, I can definitely find a lot of reasons to drink or use some other substance to numb my feelings. A lot of reasons.

“So, here I am having a bad damn day. It is fine. The good thing about a bad day is that you get another chance tomorrow. Tomorrow there will be pie.” – sober up buttercup

That is how I’ve felt just about every day for the past month and a half. It’s been a grind, y’all. I wasn’t sure I’d make it, at least not sober, but here I am.

One of the reasons I'm still sober is that I stubbornly clutch at solutions rather than excuses.

One of the reasons I’m still sober is that I stubbornly clutch at solutions rather than excuses.

There are a lot of lessons that I’ve learned and still learning, but right now I want to talk about how self care is part of my solution, and how that plays out for me.

Writing and creating is one of the first areas that goes to hell when I’m stressed or anxious, but they are forms of self care for me. When I force myself to get up early and write, I’m subconsciously telling myself, “Yes. You matter.” It’s tempting to blow this off and fill it with busy-ness or sleep or mindless social media scrolling. I’ve done that for a month though, and let me tell you: not worth it.

Self care is not just bubble baths and pedicures for me. It’s saying yes to the things that matter on a deeper level. 

These are the top 3 things I do now to focus on the solutions instead of the problems:

Wake up early.

This looks a little different for everybody, but for the most part, early rising is a great way to start the day. When I wake up early enough to write, have a cup of coffee, and pray before the kids wake up, my whole day is better. It’s me taking a proactive approach to my day.

I put my phone in the bathroom when I go to bed. This accomplishes two things:

  1. I no longer get stuck in the endless scrolling loop on social media until midnight or later. Better sleep!
  2. I have to get alllll the way out of bed at 5am to turn off the alarm.

This one simple habit has changed how I view my time, and my mornings. I started it around 2.5 months ago. My goal was really to write at least 500 words a day, but the only time I could do that was in the early morning. To force myself to get up earlier, I put my phone in the bathroom. And y’all – it works. It has worked for months now. A+ productivity “hack”.


More specifically: work on projects that pay the bills and put food on the table.

It’s very easy for me to get stuck in workaholic tendencies, so I have to distinguish between working productively and working just to be busy. When I’m productive, I’m happy and fulfilled. When I’m just busy, I’m stressed and overwhelmed.

This month, I took a page from Being Boss, one of my favorite entrepreneur-focused podcasts, and started putting up more visual goals on a white board in my kitchen and office. They use something they call The Chalkboard Method, and I started with just putting my goals up. My children now see what my income goal is for the month, and how many (new) clients I will likely need to bring on board to accomplish that.

Putting my goals up like that has helped me to focus on more productive work, enforce boundaries, and hold to my pricing. I set daily goals, even if it’s just, “Ok, just get this ONE THING done today, Ashley.”

That is self care for me. Also, work = money = food, and I really like food.

Keep showing up.

Nothing can get better without a little bit of work somewhere. Even if that work is just showing up again and again, stubbornly and without any kind of good feelings with it. I show up to work. I wake up to get my kids ready for school. I force myself to shower, eat, go for a walk, or even just cry for a minute if I need to.

Sometimes, I get so freaking tired of this. How long do I have to trudge through misery, God? Why does this suck so bad for this long? I don’t have answers for that, but I do notice the blessings. The blessings are a lot easier to find when you’re looking for them. Problems are just as easy to find if I’m looking for them.

dancing-tunnel-focus on solutions not problems, sobriety, getting sober, resilience in sobriety, keep showing up, stay sober

Right now, I have a lot of problems going on in my life. I also have a lot of blessings that balance those problems. I’d wager that’s the case for most of us. It’s easier said than done sometimes, but let’s keep focusing on the blessings. We don’t have to ignore or pretend that the problems don’t exist, but they don’t have to be the focus.

Let’s try being more productive with our thoughts. This is tough for me, but let’s try it anyway. How does that look in your daily life?


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  1. Bette on November 15, 2017 at 9:16 pm

    Great essay –
    I like reading your work !

  2. Nicole Clarke on November 13, 2017 at 10:02 pm

    “Nothing can get better without a little bit of work somewhere.” Yes yes yes. Also, “tomorrow there will be pie” made me l o l.

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Sitting on top of Pike's Peak in Colorado, a little over 2 years sober.

Hi! I'm Ashley, and my sobriety date is May 6, 2015. I write to share my experience, strength, and hope in recovery. On any given day, you can find me developing websites, writing, or chauffeuring kids around.  Read my story...

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