Pressure Relief Group (PRG) – Part 2

Today’s post is a continuation of yesterday’s on PRG’s.

What to Give to Your PRG Team

When you are new or beginning to create your spending plan, you will want to either email or bring a list of categories and how much you spend in them. If you are new to program, please don’t let this overwhelm you. This is why you are getting help … because you cannot do this alone. Take a look at this post on categories of a spending plan and some information on how to track your spending. Plus, DA has pamphlets on spending plans and categories to help you.

If you already have a spending plan, you should send a copy to your PRG team for use during the PRG.

Tip: If you use Excel, make sure you save the file as a .XLS file and not .XLXS, which is the later version, because some people may only have an earlier version of the software.

If you use YNAB, here are instructions for sending the information to your PRG

If Your PRG Team Members Also Use YNAB
If you already use Dropbox to store your YNAB in the cloud, you can just share that file with your team during the PRG. Later, you can unshare if you’d like.

Tips:

  1. The team will have to click on the link in the email they will receive from Dropbox in order to activate the shared folder.
  2. Open the file through YNAB, NOT by clicking on the folder in Dropbox.

If One or Both PRG Team Members Don’t Use YNAB
You have two options in this case.

  • The easiest thing to do is just to create a PDF of your plan.
  1. Open up your YNAB file.
  2. Go to Budget.
  3. Make sure the current month is displayed.
  4. Click File/Print. A PDF of the current month is displayed.
  5. On the top left, click the dropdown on the Save button.
  6. Select Adobe PDF File.
  7. Page range should be All.
  8. Select a location for the file to be saved.
  9. Once the file is saved, you can then email it to your PRG group or bring it if in person.
  • If you want them to be able to work in Excel with the information:
  1. From the Budget window, click File/Export.
  2. Select Export Budget to CSV
  3. Open Output Folder
  4. Tip: Note where the output folder is located because you will be attaching the file in your email.

    Note: I am assuming that you already know how to do basic Excel functions. If you do not, please access the Help within Excel to learn how to expand columns, delete rows and columns, etc.

  5. The file contains every month you have in YNAB, which can be quite a lot of data. You may be overwhelmed when you first see the file in Excel. But don’t worry because it’s easy to clean up.

    Delete all rows for months/years other than the month and year you are dealing with (usually the current month and year). In my case, because I have been using YNAB for three years, I had to delete 5,000 rows!

  6. Save now. It is ok to continue to save as .CSV. That will open in any version of Excel.
  7. Once you only have the month and year you want to work with:
    • Delete the Category column. This is redundant and you may want to sort the Master and Subcategories separately, which you will be able to do.
    • Delete rows for Hidden Categories, if you have any.
    • Widen the columns so you can see the information comfortably.
    • If you only need your planned numbers, you can also delete the Outflows and Category Balance columns, which will also make this easier to read for your PRG members.
    • Save the file
    • Attach a copy of the file to an email or print it out for PRG team members.

Here is a sample of part of my own plan once I have followed these steps:

excel

Dealing with Partners

This can be a thorny issue, but it is definitely workable, as I have seen with couples in this program, including myself and my husband. You will want to talk to your partner about whether you will manage the money for the family in your spending plan or if you and your partner will maintain separate accounts/spending.

I have written a post dealing with the challenges of navigating this program with a partner. If the partner is open to what you are doing in this program, it may be beneficial to include him or her on the PRG so he or she can have a voice, understand the process, and get on board with what you are trying to accomplish.

Have at Least One Specific Topic for the PRG

Make sure you send your PRG team a copy of your agenda and celebrations.

Please have at least one item to discuss for your PRG. It is not up to the team to come up with your topics. Additionally, please don’t expect to cover 10 intense topics at one PRG. It is respectful to the other members that you have spent some time on what you want to cover and to provide the information to the team at least a few hours before the PRG.

Also, be sure you have given thought to your celebrations (e.g., good things that have happened to you since the last PRG or action steps you were given and on which you followed through. It can be about money, career, or anything that you deem important). This is where, no matter how much pressure you may be experiencing, you can come into balance by thinking about gratitude for what you have as well.

How to Conduct a Phone PRG

Many phones enable you to do call conferencing. Check with your phone’s instruction manual to see if this is an option and, if so, how to do that. Then, you can just call each member using the instructions to have a conference call.

Alternatively, you can use a free conference call service. That is what I do. You just set up an account and send your team the number and access code. It’s just like phone meetings, except you three are the only ones on the call. You can keep this number permanently to use for your PRGs. Here is the company I use: Free Conference Call.

Format of a PRG

PRG’s generally last one to one and a half hours.

  1. Open with the Serenity prayer.
  2. Decide who will be the Secretary to write down relevant action steps and other information. Your only job is to be present and involved. You are not the person to take the notes.
  3. Following that, talk about your celebrations .
  4. Begin working through your agenda.
  5. Finalize your Action Plan.
  6. Schedule your next PRG, if possible.
  7. End with the Serenity prayer.

PRG Expectations and Disappointments

Please don’t be scared off by what I am about to say. PRG’s are a vital component of this program. But sometimes, you may have a PRG that is, to be frank, awful. I have experienced such PRG’s myself. So I feel that it is vital for you to understand that even if you have done everything you needed to do, the experience may be dreadful. For every one rotten PRG, I have had and seen dozens of fantastic ones. Therefore, in order to stay in recovery and grow in DA, you must continue to have PRG’s even if you had a bad experience previously. Only by doing so will you reap the miracles that can come from them.

Here are some tips to enhance your PRG experience:

  • Don’t come in with a fixed idea of how to solve a problem. You may end up very disappointed when your team strongly disagrees with your solution. It is really, really, really important not to have expectations of an outcome in order to have a successful PRG. I know this from painful experience.
  • Don’t get bogged down in trying to get all your agenda items done. I have had PRG’s where one item turned out to be so important that we didn’t have time for any others. Let go of controlling the outcome of the PRG. I have often felt disappointed during a PRG and realized soon after that, though it didn’t go as I wanted, it went exactly as I needed.
  • If you trust your PRG team and they both agree to disagree with you, get willing to do what they say instead of what you want. I have never found that to fail me because I have a lot of time and experience with this team and trust them.
  • However, remember that PRG team members are not your Higher Power. You don’t have to do what they say and if you don’t know them well, you may not trust them yet. You may want to check out their feedback with others in your network to determine if your resistance is your disease or appropriate.
  • Remember that we are all just struggling to stay in recovery one day at a time. If a member of your team doesn’t meet your expectations, try to have compassion rather than anger. Get another member.

    Don’t stay with a member who rubs you the wrong way or clearly doesn’t have what you want. If your feelings are hurt or you feel abused by a team member, you do not have to work with that person again and you will have learned something from the experience. Similarly, if one of your trusted team members cannot do a PRG when you need one, be open to having a PRG with someone else.

  • If you do have a bad PRG experience, set up another one anyway. Please do not let this deter you. We have all had bad PRG’s. The worst thing you can do is allow this to keep you from one of the most important tools of recovery in DA.
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