Yesterday’s Home Runs Don’t Count in Today’s Game

resting on your laurels

Table of Contents

Anybody who has spent time in recovery or read the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous enough has heard the phrase “resting on your laurels.” This is an old saying based on Greek and Roman culture, where winners of competitions were granted crowns of laurel leaves (laurels). Resting on your laurels is when we are too easy on ourselves, counting on our past successes to carry us through the present and the future. A modern version of this saying is “Yesterday’s home runs don’t count in today’s game.” The meaning is the same — our past successes are wonderful, but they aren’t enough to live fully in the present or keep fear of the future at bay.

In recovery, sayings like this take on a slightly new meaning. What they come to mean in the rooms of recovery would be something like “The work you did for your recovery yesterday won’t keep you in recovery today.” You went to a meeting last night? Great! But that meeting might not keep you sober today. You better hit one tonight, too. You helped somebody out last week? That’s wonderful! But the Big Book tells us that our lives as recovering alcoholics and addicts depend upon our constant thought of others and how we may serve them. Constant. Better find somebody you can help today. You dropped some 12-Step work two days ago? Awesome! We’re proud of you. But the Big Book also says that the 12-Steps grant us a daily reprieve from our disease, which is contingent upon the maintenance of our spiritual condition. Daily. Better call your sponsor and drop some more 12-Step work today.

Maybe this all seems too harsh or too hard-nosed, but let’s dig a little deeper into the concepts that are being introduced here.

Resting on Your Laurels

Sometimes resting on your laurels sounds like a no-brainer. I mean, we earned those laurels — why can’t we enjoy a little rest because of them? This line of thinking isn’t wrong, per se. It just doesn’t apply to our recovery. It might get us by in other areas of our lives though. If we’ve done something tremendously above and beyond at work, it’s probably fair to take a day off. If we got our significant other flowers a few days ago, we probably don’t need to get them more flowers today. But perhaps you can see how this slope starts to get slippery. “I just did something good, so I can take a few days off from being good now.” That’s no way to live. Earning “laurels” is a wonderful thing, but it becomes self-defeating if we try to earn praise and do well just so we can take a break from being our best.

Rest is a necessary thing. We need to incorporate some rest time into every single day. But we should be sure to incorporate some laurel-earning into every day as well. Rest and good work are not mutually exclusive. We don’t do one so we can avoid the other — they work best when combined. The 12-Step program of recovery tells us to work the 11th Step (rest) and the 12th Step of serving others (earning laurels) every day in order to keep our daily reprieve from alcoholism and addiction.

Yesterday’s Home Runs

Few things feel better than hitting a home run, literally or figuratively. Whether we hit a home run on the diamond, at work, or in our relationships, it’s a terrific thing to do. And we should never avoid celebrating a home run, because every victory counts. But you never see a professional baseball player celebrating the points scored yesterday. Nope. What we did yesterday was awesome and hopefully, we celebrated yesterday because yesterday’s points don’t count in today’s game.

If we devote all our energy to recalling past victories, we will soon find ourselves absent of present victories, and that’s no way to live. If we stay focused on our past success, we stop doing the work required for new success. We stop growing and we stop learning. And for alcoholics and addicts, ceasing our spiritual growth is a truly dangerous game. This becomes especially clear when we read the recovery literature and focus on our own real-life experiences. Remember the last time we skipped meetings for a week? How awful did that feel? Just because we did something for our recovery yesterday doesn’t mean that we can avoid doing something for our recovery today.

Today’s Game

The 12-Step program tells us that we must live each day 24 hours at a time, one day at a time — no more and no less. We don’t need to pressure ourselves to “hit a home run” every day. In fact, some days we’re going to strike out. That’s just how it goes. But just like yesterday’s home runs don’t count in today’s game, yesterday’s outs don’t count in today’s game, either. Every day is a clean slate. That’s why we do the 11th Step every morning and every night. To help us face the day one day at a time every morning, and then learn from the day and put it behind us every night. Every day is a brand new game, and we can be whatever kind of player we wish to be, one day at a time.

At Jaywalker, we believe that every alcoholic and addict deserves to experience life in recovery. No matter what your journey has been like up to this point, you deserve a life that is joyous, meaningful, and free. We believe that recovery is for anyone and everyone willing to do the work. And here, the work is the 12-Step program of spiritual action designed to produce the necessary psychic change and vital spiritual experience that bring about freedom and recovery from alcoholism and addiction. We believe that you deserve it. We believe that your life is worth the effort. And we know this solution really works, because it worked for us. We were once hopeless and struggled to find recovery. Now we are living lives beyond our wildest dreams, and our greatest joy is helping others join us on the road of happy destiny. If you’re ready and willing to live life in recovery, call Jaywalker now at (970) 533-8087.

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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