Procrastinators Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from chronic procrastination.

Defining Sobriety

There's a passage in the literature of another 12 Step fellowship to that just totally speaks to me as a "multi-position-player" type of addict:

Everything begins with sobriety. Without sobriety, there is no program of recovery. But without reversing the deadly traits that underlie our addiction, there is no positive and lasting sobriety. To recover from a life based on wrong attitudes, self-obsession, separation, false connections, blindness, and spiritual death requires a program of action that includes a fundamental change in attitude, character change, union, the true Connection, self-awareness, and spiritual life. Working the principles of the Steps as a new way of living has made this happen for us.

No matter how well they are explained, understood, or believed, however, the Steps mean nothing unless they are actually worked out in our thinking and living. The Steps don't work unless we work them. 

For me, that's the clearest, most concise description of what 12 Step recovery is all about that I know of. 

The whole part about "deadly traits that underlie our addiction(s)" has a lot to do with how I got here — I realized that the severe procrastination and perfectionism that has dogged me for decades is just too big to treat as a character defect, that it needed to be the full focus of a 12 Step program. And that unless I could stop procrastinating and being obsessively perfectionistic, I'd just keep finding new ways to medicate and self-soothe — new addictions. 

But now that I'm here, and working Step 1, I'm looking at "Everything begins with sobriety." What's being sober in this program? AA and many other fellowships have a common sobriety definition — that is, part of claiming a place in the fellowship is coming to accept that there are certain clearly defined behaviors they can't do anymore, not if they want to have a life worth living. Other fellowships describe a "common problem" with certain general characteristics, but leave it up to the individual member (and his/her sponsor) to decide what's sober and what's not sober.  

I'm just beginning to work on those questions; I'll come back here and share any learnings.

How do others here define sobriety? I'd love to hear stories. 


Monica's picture

My line in the sand (sobriety)

When it comes to my mental well-being, my thinking isn't far from the thinking of some bipolar individuals. More than once I've heard how hard it is to convince bipolar individuals to stay on their meds. The problems seems to stem from the fact that, when they take their meds, they feel better. And, because they feel better, they conclude, medication is no longer needed... thus forgoing sound medical advice - leading to a downward spiral into an acute manic episode.

Well, when it comes to my procrastination addiction, the same can be said for me. There are specific actions I need to take to keep from relapsing, like getting dressed first thing in the morning, eating breakfast and taking my supplements. Yet, I neglect doing them, to my detriment, and end up in a willful procrastinating funk. But, unlike the bipolar individual, feeling better doesn't necessarily cause me to believe that I don't need to act accordingly. It seems I just simply forget how important these acts are to my sobriety.

I'd like to spend the next month building a solid routine around habits that encourage my sobriety, recovery and productivity. These are:

  • Get out of bed at 5:00 am to get an early start on my day
  • Wash face and brush teeth to fully waken for the day
  • Drink a hot cup of herbal tea to get energized for the day
  • Take supplements 3 times a day (overall general health)
  • Fully dress (no PJ's) for the day to make me feel productive
  • Read morning devotion to begin the day with a divine perspective
  • Get in bed early enough to get the proper amount of rest

Day 1 starts tomorrow. For now, I'm going betting in bed before 10:00 pm. A girl needs her sleep!

Monica's picture

Tracking Sobriety

Would anyone be willing to join me on ( to track sobriety? I'd like to keep a calendar of the days I "stayed clean." And, I could use the extra accountability from others tracking the same thing.

I really like this app because it has a social dimension that allows users to "like" the progress and steaks of others and leave uplifting comments.

The app doesn't currently have a category for this type of sobriety. But I can easily create one. It could be called "Procrastination Addicts Sobriety" or "PA Sobriety" for short.

Any takers? If so, send me a quick reply. Also, you can follow me at

fudoshin: 1:02pm 11.08

Please do not leave advice.  Thank you.  Prayers welcome. 



I haven't even done my inner circle stuff.  Glad someone made a post about this.  I am right now in the midst of defining what sobriety in this program means for me:

1) brushing my teeth in the morning and before I go to sleep, with an endtufted brush.

2) using listerine twice a day, once in the morning and before I go to sleep.

3) flossing before sleep.

4) getting my homework done for the next day before the class.

5) coming within 5 minutes of the class time beginning.

6) exercising at least four times a week for 30 minutes.

7) eating three meals a day

8) taking my vitamins daily

9) brushing my hair before leaving the house and when I wake up in the morning

10) taking a full shower before I go to bed.

11) going to two of my twelve step meetings per week (one in CoDA another in SLAA).


Middle-circle stuff:

1) Don't go on the dating site, because it's leading to stalking right now.  I would that it weren't.  But it is.

2) Don't use Facebook, b/c it's leading to stalking right now.  I would that it weren't, but it is.

PA Sobriety

Great topic, thanks.  I suspect it needs to be defined for each person.  Another 12-step fellowship presents it in terms of 3 circles, one inside the next (like a target).  The inner circle contains the behaviors/states of mind that are clearly addictive and unhealthy (sometimes called bottom-line behaviors).  The middle circle contains the conditions/behaviors that can lead one down the slippery slope to the inner circle.  The outer circle contains the positive behaviors/states of mind that are clearly healthy.  I'd forgotten about this simple idea until you brought up sobriety.

If I were to think of some personal example:  My inner-circle (bottom-line) behaviors include spending large chunks of time surfing CNN or other sites while I am at work, or staring at the screen without reading what is in front of me for large chunks of time while I am at work (with or without daydreaming).  The middle-circle includes opening my browser to any site where I can get "caught", or seeking food when its not mealtime, or noticing other avoidance behaviors starting to crop up, or realizing that negative feelings come up when I start (or think about starting) a task, or becoming overwhelmed when I try to juggle too many tasks.  The outer circle includes steady, focused attention to one task at a time while I am at work, and only eating the food that I bring from home and plan to eat, and taking a walk at lunchtime, and taking appropriate breaks during the workday.

 Hmm, I see that behaviors versus mental/emotional states needs more attention in this model.  I want to go dig up the source pamphlet and read it again.  I do remember that an individual's definition of sobriety can change over time, and it said that we need ongoing awareness of all three circles (without focusing exclusively on one).

This seems like good first-step work for PA (it helped with my 1st step in the other group, and to some extent its what I did for the 6th step before, with my defects of character and the desired character assets with which I wanted to replace them).  Thanks for the topic.


I am always intrigued by the definition of “procrastination” and “sobriety”. Many have attempted to find an explanation, but not one has succeeded. The whole thing is too cunning, baffling and powerful for me, but I get glimpses of the  truth. Below are some excerpts from founding AAer’s. at the site: mention much more than not taking in alcohol. I personally see PA as another layer that needs to be peeled so I can be of use by my HP.

A Manual for Alcoholics Anonymous

THE AKRON MANUAL (1940)TO THE NEWCOMER: The booklet is designed to give you a practical explanation of what to do and what not to do in your search for sobriety. The editors, too, were pretty bewildered by the program at first. They realize that very likely you are groping for answers and offer this pamphlet in order that it may make a little straighter and less confusing the highway you are about to travel. 

WHAT'S YOUR HURRY? Perhaps you don't feel you are getting the hang of this program as rapidly as you should. Forget it. It probably took you years to get in this condition. You certainly cannot expect a complete cure overnight. You are not expected to grasp the entire program in one day. No one else has ever done that, so it certainly is not expected of you. Even the earliest members are learning something new about sober living nearly every day. There is an old saying, "Easy does it." It is a motto that any alcoholic could well ponder. A child learns to add and subtract in the lower grades. He is not expected to do problems in algebra until he is in high school. Sobriety is a thing that must be learned step by step. If anything puzzles you, ask your new friends about it, or forget it for the time being. The time is not so far away when you will have a good understanding of the entire program. Meantime, EASY DOES IT!

THE A.A. PROGRAM is not a "cure," in the accepted sense of the word. There is no known "cure" for alcoholism except complete abstinence. It has been definitely proved that an alcoholic can never again be a normal drinker. The disease, however, can be arrested. How soon you will be cured of a desire to drink is another matter. That depends entirely upon how quickly you can succeed in changing your fundamental outlook on life. For as your outlook changes for the better, desire will become less pronounced, until it disappears almost entirely. It may be weeks or it may be months. Your sincerity and your capacity for working with others on the A.A. program will determine the length of time.

So attend your first meeting with an open mind. Even if you aren't impressed try it again. Before long you will genuinely enjoy attending and a little later you will feel that the week has been incomplete if you have not attended at least one A.A. meeting. Remember that attendance at meetings is one of the most important requisites of remaining sober. 


The following literature has helped many members of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Alcoholics Anonymous (Works Publishing Company).
The Holy Bible.
The Greatest Thing in the World, Henry Drummond.
The Unchanging Friend, a series (Bruce Publishing Co., Milwaukee).
As a Man Thinketh, James Allen.
The Sermon on the Mount, Emmet Fox (Harper Bros.).
The Self You Have to Live With, Winfred Rhoades.
Psychology of Christian Personality, Ernest M. Ligon (Macmillan Co.).
Abundant Living, E. Stanley Jones.
The Man Nobody Knows, Bruce Barron.

Edit. Akron A.A. in 1940 was obtaining a 75% success rate in teaching alcoholics to get sober and stay sober. The techniques, strategies, and principles set out in this manual must be taken very seriously by modern A.A.'s, particularly if your own success rate with newcomers is nowhere near that high.


sobriety one behavior at a time

Since procrstinating is passiv e not active like alocholism it is harder to get a handle on and more ramified in a ll our behaviors.  


It seems to me that its more practical to say "I dod not procrastinate in XXX. "e.g. pick one behavior at a time and time how long you can go, eg 3 days 6 weeks 10 years etc.  pick up a second behavior after say a month or two of abstinence in the first behavior.

 XXX could be paying bills on time getting to school on time, exercising 3 x per week etc etc

I do not feel totally qualified here but it seems to me more practical than a universal  statement "not procrastinating at all"


Does anyone agree with this? 

the other thread on defining PA sobriety

Here is the other discussion thread
in which there are attempts define PA sobriety:

Hi Ian, good question.

Hi Ian, good question. Somewhere else on this site soeone made a thoughtful post about this. I'll try to find it and put in a link. To me it seems that a useful definition has to be more positive than just 'not p.'--something more like: I am able to be aware of the feelings that used to  trigger avoidance as they arise and am able to choose tasks and activities that are not avoidant...well, something sort of like that, maybe there is a better way to express it.

what is sobriety?

That's a great question, and I too remember having a great discussion about it in here previously but I can't find it.  

Anyway, I think of it sort of like dieting.   You can't just give up food, but you can plan what you're going to eat and then eat what you planned, most of the time.   

For productivity improvement, we can plan what we're going to do in a day, and then do what we planned, most of the time.


'You become what you think about most of the time.' - Brian Tracy