With a new year comes new goals, intentions, and resolutions.
While setting new goals can help us stay encouraged and motivated, in recovery it can be both a positive and a negative. On the positive aspect, it helps you set your sights on goals and gets you motivated to achieve them. However, the pressure to succeed can be overwhelming and the resolutions we make can be swept away as fast as the confetti being wiped off the street on New Year’s morning. Some common resolutions for the new year can be to lose weight or to quit smoking, however those can bring on enough anxiety as it is. Falling short of goals can additionally take a toll on your recovery and you may start to feel defeated, derailing your recovery.
Millions of people make New Year’s resolutions, however, according to research from the University of Scranton, more than half fail to actually keep them. This failure rate may be due to unrealistic expectations, lack of discipline, or loss of motivation.
For the best success in making New Year’s resolutions, it’s important to set specific attainable goals, one step at a time. In recovery, success and happiness isn’t achieved overnight. We must allow ourselves breathing room and opportunities for change and follow this few simple steps to make our goals stick.
By setting your expectations and goals too high off the bat, it can make not living up to these self-imposed goals upsetting. Small with more achievable goals and work your way up. Be sure to keep your resolutions flexible and adjustable. By setting shorter-term goals that lead up to larger accomplishments, our goals can become more manageable. If your resolution is to finally get sober this year, set your goal to going to a number of meetings a week, or set a timeline of when you’re going to seek professional help.
One Day at A Time
With any goal, deciding that you’re going to commit isn’t enough. If you truly want to make a lasting change, you have to recommit everyday. Focusing on your goal, whether that be staying sober or losing weight for a single day instead of an entire year can make your goals feel less daunting and puts the reality of your aspirations into perspective. Over time, our “one day at a times,” add up.
Celebrate Little Successes
A year is a long time to wait to reward yourself for attaining your goal. There’s no doubt that throughout the year you’ll come across little successes and feel the benefits of the changes you’ve made. By celebrating the small achievements you’ll be able to maintain some extra motivation and encouragement. Did you stick to your goal to try a new activity? Maybe you attended every support group you had planned out to go to. Treat yourself to a new book or a nice dinner. Reward yourself with something that has value to you to stay motivated.
Change One Behavior at a Time
Addiction and our unhealthy behaviors didn’t develop over night. So replacing our unhealthy behaviors with new healthy patterns will require time. Sometimes this can overwhelm us, especially in recovery. Instead, work towards changing one thing at a time.
Get Rid of Perfection
We don’t have to be perfect to achieve our goals. Just because you missed a day at the gym or skip one meeting because you’re working late doesn’t mean you failed. However, don’t let it discourage you from following through with your resolution. By keeping a positive mind frame, you can get back on track and continue to make progress. We can use our setbacks and mistakes as learning experiences and then adjust our goals accordingly.
Ask for Support
There’s no way we can reach our goals – let alone stay sober – by ourselves. Reaching out for help and support from those we trust can help us attain our resolutions and manage our stressors. If you are unable to meet your goals even with the help of family or friends, consider seeking out professional help. Psychologists or treatment facilities are professionally trained to offer coping skills and strategies to get sober, stay sober, and even help with other issues such as process addictions and other emotional issues.