In The End, It’s Still On You

Alcoholics Anonymous has been a lifesaver for millions, including members of my family and many friends.

They have a 90% failure rate.

The 10% who had success using the program credit the organization (and the 12-step plan, conceived by Swiss psychologist Carl Jung) for giving them the structure for turning their life around, as AA founder Bill Wilson did.

But 9 out of 10 didn’t achieve the goal of complete and total sobriety.

The people who have achieved their weight goals credit programs like Jenny Craig for changing not only their appearance but their self-esteem and confidence.

What Jenny Craig doesn’t tell you in their ads is that they have a massive drop-out rate, as high as 50%.

I have a secret weapon – a person no one knows about – who I share my professional and personal goals with each week. I credit this guy with helping me get closer to good, to get out of a toxic relationship and forge my career reinvention. It’s been two years. We have a long, long way to go.

As many as 57% of patients bail on therapy/counseling after one visit.

If you go to a gym, you know that the packed room you’re navigating in January will thin out by Groundhog Day.

AA is a tremendous organization. It’s not their fault people relapse. Jenny Craig is by all accounts a legit company. It’s not their fault when McDonald’s wins.

Most people are willing to let their whole life go by with massive goals unfulfilled, dreams dashed and sick relationships unbroken. I tell my clients who continue to express doubt that they can reinvent, “If you want things to be static, I can support that; let’s come up with some ways to make it tolerable…”

Most people bail before it gets tough. They just don’t have it in them (at that moment).

Many procrastinate, putting off goals and accomplishments until that elusive day called Tomorrow.

The self-help industry profits by shaming you into their notions of what it takes to be happy and fulfilled. They need your shame to motivate you to pull out your wallet.

I describe my current job(s) as organizer of dreams.  I am helping my clients and students at school do their work, the work they pledged and promised to themselves they want to do. It’s up to them to finish what we start – or not.

Support groups, professional associations and informal networks can be incredibly helpful to aid one’s reinvention. They can’t make you do anything, however. The existence of AA does not save everyone from the booze. Those that have overcome did it all by themselves. They should be so proud!

Some of us benefit by having someone hold us accountable. When we are paying for that personal trainer, we’re highly motivated to get to the gym. Our trainer will be standing at the front door waiting for us. But it’s still up to us to get in the car and get there.

Our list of unfinished projects is a mile long. My list of faults is 20 miles long. It can’t be about what’s undone. It has to be about what little wins we can grab along the way.

The only person who determines whether it gets done is me.

The only person who determines whether it gets done is you.


John Scott is the online learning coordinator, career services manager and an instructor at the School of Multimedia Communications, Academy of Art University, San Francisco. He also counsels clients and groups on the art of reinvention. . Follow John on Twitter @johnscottsf.


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