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How to Choose a Recovery-Friendly New Year’s Resolution

The holiday season is a time to reflect on the previous year. It is a time to look ahead and plan positive changes. A New Year’s resolution is a promise for the New Year. It’s a promise you make to yourself. Resolutions often involve goals of better health, better relationships, or self-improvement. Making a resolution is a great way to create optimism and plan for success. Choose a resolution that supports sobriety during the holidays and long after.

Put Effort Into Your Resolution

As you choose a recovery-friendly resolution, remember this resolution is only the first step. A resolution is a loose promise. You have to do more than decide to change. You have to put in energy and effort.

Make the Right Resolution

new-years-resolutionsChoosing your resolution is a small first step. Next comes effort. Because you have to act on your resolution to see change, don’t set yourself up for failure by choosing a resolution requiring overwhelming or impossible amounts of work.  Choose a goal you can accomplish over the coming year or even just the coming week. Don’t be afraid to start small. The American Psychological Association[1] (APA) shares, “It is not the extent of the change that matters, but rather the act of recognizing that lifestyle change is important and working toward it, one step at a time.” A resolution should be an opportunity for positive change rather than the cause of stress of anxiety. Be aware of the amount of time and energy you can devote to achieving your resolution. Pick a resolution that’s not too difficult or too easy to achieve. This is the type of resolution that’s most likely to have a positive and lasting effect on your life.

Break Your Resolution Down Into Achievable Steps

8 percent of americans achieve new years goalThe best resolutions can be divided into steps or stages. This keeps any one goal from seeming too big or impossible. The APA explains, “Unhealthy behaviors develop over the course of time. Thus, replacing unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones requires time. Don’t get overwhelmed and think that you have to reassess everything in your life. Instead, work toward changing one thing at a time.” You don’t have to change everything, and you certainly don’t have to change everything all at once. Break your goals down into achievable mini-goals. This helps you start creating change. It helps you stay motivated. New Year’s resolutions are a source of inspiration for self-improvement. Checkpoints between choosing and achieving your resolution are as important — and worth celebrating — as your resolution itself.

Hold Yourself Accountable

One reason New Year’s goals, and recovery goals, fail is a lack of accountability. We make our resolutions to ourselves. We often keep them secret particularly if they involve changing habits others don’t know we have. This secrecy isn’t your friend when it comes to actually accomplishing goals. The APA suggests, “Share your experiences with family and friends…Having someone to share your struggles and successes with makes your journey to a healthier lifestyle that much easier and less intimidating.” If you aren’t ready to share with people you know, consider joining a support group. Members face many of the same challenges as you and are a great source of both advice and inspiration.

Making Recovery Your Goal

Put real thought into choosing a resolution that’s right for you and right for your recovery. Your goal may be directly related to recovery. It may involve using less, choosing treatment, or getting back on track after relapse. Your goal may be indirectly related to recovery. It may support sobriety through changes to health and happiness. You may want to enrich your life by building a new career, learning a new skill, taking up a hobby, or improving your overall health. New Year’s resolutions are all about taking the time to actively improve yourself, your life and your future. Now is the time to take the first steps toward change.

[1] “Making Your New Year’s Resolution Stick.” American Psychological Association. Web. 18 Apr 2017.


Written by Dane O’Leary