Exactly what is a “moral inventory”? Drop that term into a Google search box, and Google returns over eighteen million hits.
To be certain, opinions vary.
One source says the following: “Once we identify our role in each situation, we put pen to paper so that we can see our role. At this point, we have to find willingness to honestly and openly admit our wrongs in order to set these matters straight. While this can be a difficult task, it is imperative if we wish to recover. An unwillingness to address these issues, has the potential to lead us right back to the drink or drug.” (Source: https://www.recoveryconnection.com/moral-inventory-step-four/ As of October 1, 2018)
We are still left with a question: “why?” Assume, for a moment, that abstinence is no longer an issue. Regardless of the problem, whether alcohol, drugs, gambling, or other problematic behaviors, assume that our abstinence is in place and strong.
Given that, the question remains: Why?
No doubt the answers would vary. Chances are good that, if abstinence is not an issue, that the opinions would vary. Google tells us that chances are good that we will find over eighteen million different answers.
Assume, for a moment, that seventeen million of those answers are essentially identical. If so, that still leaves a million or more different viewpoints. With a million or more opinions, we could spend a lifetime searching them and still not reach a consensus.
For some of us, particularly those with more than five years of recovery, and some with as little as a two years, we need clarity on this issue. The first two years of recovery, and as long as five, we need to stick to the program as originally written. During that period of our growth and development, the basics of the program will answer most of our questions, maybe all of them.
But somewhere north of five years, some of us find that we need more. Alcohol, drugs, gambling and other similar issues are no longer core issues for us. As long as we do the basics and stay away from slippery people and slippery places, chances are good that we will be safe.
“Safe” may not be enough. We look around and realize that we have too much debt. Maybe we are unemployed or only working part-time at a job that does not allow us to perform at our highest and best level for ourselves and for society. Maybe we are “stuck.”
At this point, an inventory may be helpful, but the traditional “searching and fearless moral inventory” may not be enough. Maybe we need an Ishikawa diagram to map out some problem where we are stuck. Maybe we need a “mind map” to dump what is in our head, and use that mind map to draw flowcharts or similar diagrams of the repeating patterns in our life where we are “stuck” and unable to move forward.
Other aspects of inventories may apply. In formal inventory management, one common problem is the “Newsvendor” problem. The question is this: how to handle perishable inventory. If we have too much of some capacity, we have spent time or money or other resources on something, maybe several somethings, which we cannot fully utilize and which may be perishable.
That is the point of the Newsvendor problem. If a Newsvendor on the street sells, on average, fifty newspapers per day, then ordering one hundred newspapers is foolish. It means that will go unsold. The only “benefit” of the unused inventory is to recycle is or find some other use other than the original intended use. Excess capacity is wasteful.
On the other hand, if we only order twenty newspapers, knowing that we can sell fifty, then we have lost profits. Opportunities that would benefit us, and maybe others, are gone. The opportunity to sell a newspaper and make a profit while fulfilling the needs of our customers vanishes. The Newsvendor problem addresses what is called “perishable inventory.”
While the traditional “searching and fearless moral inventory” is perfect for beginners who are new to the recovery process, other tools may be more useful to those of us beyond a certain point. The point is often reached by five to ten years into the recovery process though some may reach it as early as two years. Once there, we need to look at other inventories. One of these is to list the “perishable” items in our life. Where are we being wasteful by having excess capacity, something that typically manifests as “clutter”? Where do we not pay sufficient attention to the opportunities that face us, having the window of opportunity close and vanish. These questions, questions of a “searching and fearless moral inventory of the perishable” in our lives can prove helpful if we are willing to make the effort.
Worth noting is that the traditional columnar model of such an inventory may not be sufficient. Diagrams of repeating patterns or network diagrams of important projects in our lives may shine lift on topics that are otherwise in a muddle.
Sometimes the most important questions to ask are not questions of “what should I add” or “what should I remove.” Sometimes the best questions to ask are ones that look at the sequences of the patterns of our lives, as we repeat our cycles day in and day out, week in and week out. As the seasons and years unfold, at certain critical junctures we can see a brief lived opportunity to “jump ship” and take on a new voyage that brings us to previously unexplored shores.
Have you asked yourself these questions? “Where do I have excess inventory that manifests as clutter?” “Do I have clarity on my finances and what I am buying or saving?” “Am I in the job or business that permits me to work at my highest good to myself and to others?” Pursuit of these questions, possibly on a daily or weekly basis, may shine the light on areas where change can help you along your path of growth and self-discovery.