Enough of this, “One day at a time” stuff:

This catchphrase gives people self-authorization to relapse. They have an “out” so they can fall backwards when just the right reason to drink comes along. People use this phrase; “One day at a time,” because they have not mentally committed to themselves that they will live and remain sober – permanently.

Why not make plans for 1, 2, 3 or 5 years of sobriety? “I don’t know if I can stay sober that long.” Well then you’re just not serious about your sobriety. Why not go back and start drinking now?

Do I sound heartless, mean, cruel and unsupportive? Probably, but I am simply speaking truth.

People are afraid to make a long-term commitment and plan for their own sobriety. That takes mental work, self-restraint and the risk of ridicule. Nobody wants to be seen as a liar or a failure if they happen to go back to drinking once they’ve publicly stated that they are done.

Look, I know that it isn’t easy to remain sober. There are plenty of temptations in this world. But guess what? Those temptations will ALWAYS be there, for the rest of your life, not just one day at a time. You can stay sober one day at a time, but your own sobriety still needs to be viewed as a lifelong commitment. Think about this – Not very many of us ever said, “I’ll stay drunk one day at a time.” No, we made plans to get drunk and virtually had made a lifelong commitment to our destructive and continued drinking.

Keeping your mind in the “One day at a time” outlook limits your mental planning and projection of your own future. This catchphrase means that all you’re looking at is today. Yes, you must live and behave, “one day at a time.” In fact you actually live and behave “one second at a time.” But I’m certain that you still make plans for tomorrow, next week, next month and next year.

So really think about the phrase, “One day at a time.” Is that how you plan your life? Is that how you plan your investments, your major purchases and decisions in your life? Is that how a mortgage company bases its decision to extend you a loan? Is that how people plan businesses? NO.

People (and businesses) that don’t make plans and make commitments for their futures, rapidly flounder. I won’t even use the word fail – how can you fail at something if it isn’t even a tangible plan? Floundering occurs when all you see is the end goal or what you want, but there is no tangible plan or commitment on how to get there. You just bounce along, one day at a time, hoping that something somehow will generate results and magically it will all work out. Who knows, you might get lucky and it will all work out – but the law of probability is not in your favor if you don’t plan and commit.

The phrase “one day at a time” can be used as part of an equation. For example, “My mortgage payment is $1,200.00 a month, so I have to make sure that I save $40.00 – one day at a time – so I have $1,200.00 at the end of the month.” Or “I want to buy a new car, so I must save $10.00 – one day at a time – for one year and I will have enough for a down payment.” Or “I want to retire with a million dollars*, so I have to put $50.00 into my IRA – one day at a time – for the next 35 years.” (*This is strictly an example based on 10% average annual return, dividend re-investment, employer matching, blah, blah, blah.) But I’m sure you get the idea of how I’m using “one day at a time” when planning your future.

Even if all you want to do is stop for a while, you still need to make a committal statement such as:

  • I will NOT drink for 30 days.
  • I will NOT drink for 90 days.
  • I will NOT drink for 1 year.

And then stick to your commitment.

So yes, you can stay sober, “One day at a time,,, one hour at a time,,, one minute at a time,,, one second at a time.” But without a commitment and a plan of what you want out of living sober (even if it’s just for 30 days), you are authorizing yourself to flounder. So why not make the statement (and a list) of, “Over the next 3 years, here’s what I want out of living sober and this is what I must do to accomplish those thingsā€¦..” Then you can do those things – one day at a time – to get what you want.

2 Responses to “Enough of this, “One day at a time” stuff:”

  1. bobm says:

    During my drinking days I was unable to make a commitment for periods of time. I would promise my self that I was not going to drink for a week, a month, etc. I was unable to keep the commitment. I was a high level official of a bank and had many responsibilities that I was able to handle. But when drinking was the issue, I was not able to do it. When I got in AA, the concept of doing it for one day gave me hope. Every day when I get up, I make a commitment that I’m not going to drink for that day only. About 30 years have elapsed since I started. I have not found it necessary to pick up a drink. So I can say “it works for me”. Maybe I’m different. Different things work for different people.

  2. Frank Perrouna says:


    This is a huge revelation. My AA experience is vast but the way outs and the removal of responsibility because I have a “disease” or that I’m defective I think has affected me in a way that every so often I need to prove them wrong. But I pay the price. So I’m done with One Day At A Time and I’ll stick with Sober For Life.

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