For most people, tomorrow, being New Year’s Day, is the time to make resolutions. We, in DA, are blessed to have instructions on how to check daily whether we are living by our resolutions. In fact, by doing so, we make a habit of integrating resolutions into our daily life, instead of once a year with no accountability for what happens after.
Once you have completed Step 11, it is important to do a formal daily inventory as suggested. Many of us working the H.O.W. format turn this inventory over to our sponsors as part of our daily writing.
Instructions for Daily Inventory
People often think the suggestion for doing a formal daily inventory is contained in Step 10, which says, “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.” However, if you read page 84 and page 85 in the Big Book, Step 10 is about becoming conscious of correcting our errors and asking our Higher Power for help when fear crops up.
It is in Step 11 that we are given the instructions for how to stay conscious of where we may need to do our work. Step 11 says, “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.” On page 86 of the Big Book, it states:
When we retire at night, we constructively review our day. Were we resentful, selfish, dishonest or afraid? Do we owe an apology? Have we kept something to ourselves which should be discussed with another person at once? Were we kind and loving toward all? What could we have done better? Were we thinking of ourselves most of the time? Or were we thinking of what we could do for others, of what we could pack into the stream of life? But we must be careful not to drift into worry, remorse or morbid reflection, for that would diminish our usefulness to others. After making our review we ask God’s forgiveness and inquire what corrective measures should be taken.
On awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives. Under these conditions we can employ our mental faculties with assurance, for after all God gave us brains to use. Our thought-life will be placed on a much higher plane when our thinking is cleared of wrong motives.
I have created a Step 10 Inventory template in Microsoft Word that you can fee free to download and modify as you like: Click Here to go to the page containing the file to download.
The file is in table format with each item on the left and the days of the week across the top. I included the following items as described above:
- Afraid (along with the instruction on what to do if so)?
- Owe apology?
- Keep something to myself?
- What Could I have Done Better?
- Was I thinking of myself most of the time or what I could do for others?
Additional Items in the Template
- As my sponsor’s request, I changed, “Was I kind and loving to all?” to “How was I kind and loving?” This is because I often just answered no and she was sure I had done at least one kind and loving act in a day and felt it was important to acknowledge that.
- So, too, she had me add, “What did I do well?” in addition to “What could I have done better?” for the same reason. This inventory is not meant as a self-bashing tool, so she helped me see the importance of keeping it in perspective and balance.
- In addition, I have a line about service commitments for the previous day. This is to ensure I also keep balance about my service commitments, especially with my health issues. I need to be sure I am doing appropriate service for my abilities at this time. Again, this helps us to work together to ensure I am working Step 12 but not to the detriment of my health.
- I added a line for accountability for making my daily phone call to another DA member. It would be too easy for me to slip and slide without this accountability. Having a network of others to talk to is important for my recovery. If I don’t stick to the H.O.W. suggestion of making up to five calls daily to reach at least one person, and don’t try to widen my network, it will be harder for me to reach out for help when I really need it.
- I also have a gratitude line to list items for which I am grateful. This is important whether I had a good or particularly miserable day, to remind me there is always something in my life for which to be grateful.
- At the top, I have a line called “Other,” where I list anything to discuss that is not covered by the rest of the inventory.
- In addition, if I am having difficulty with an issue, I add a line (and remove it when no longer needed). For instance, right now, I have a line for doing neck stretches due to pain. I forget too easily and it reminds me that I have to do it and the accountability is there for whether I did it the previous day.
I must admit that I do my inventory in the morning for the previous day, before my call to my sponsor. It is just the way it works best for me. Then, I do my reading, writing, and numbers. It doesn’t take long, as I just make a note if the answer is yes, so I can discuss it. It is an integral part of my recovery and works well with my writing, taking only a minute or two to address each day.
Self-Knowledge Avails Us Nothing
If you have not done a daily inventory before, and you have completed Step 11, I urge you to download the document, or create your own, and give it a try. If you are serious about recovery, you know that making a resolution is not the same as what you need to do to stay sober with money. So it is with other challenges or character defects you are hoping to overcome in your life. We, in recovery, know that we need a spiritual solution to truly live in recovery. We know that self-knowledge is not enough for us, nor is it enough for us to swear off.
On page 36 of the Big Book, it says:
Here are some of the methods we have tried: Drinking beer only, limiting the number of drinks, never drinking alone, never drinking in the morning, drinking only at home, never having it in the house, never drinking during business hours, drinking only at parties, switching from scotch to brandy, drinking only natural wines, agreeing to resign if ever drunk on the job, taking a trip, not taking a trip, swearing off forever (with and without a solemn oath), taking more physical exercise, reading inspirational books, going to health farms and sanitariums, accepting voluntary commitment to asylums – we could increase the list ad infinitum.
Translate that to what we have done regarding our addiction to debting and spending, and you see how similar that is to the typical “New Years Resolution.” If you are serious about recovery, you know that you need more than resolutions to stop your addiction. The 12 Step program of Debtors Anonymous offers anyone the specific instructions to truly be free of the addiction one day at a time, if only the addict is willing to do the work.