As the calendar year comes winding down and the holidays start wrapping up, a new year is approaching. With it comes new possibilities and the chance to start fresh. For someone in recovery from addiction, the New Year can be a welcomed time to set new sobriety goals. Setting realistic New Year’s Resolutions in Recovery can also help them turn a few weeks of sobriety into a lifetime of clean living. While recovery goals and rehab resolutions are not always easy, they’re definitely worth the effort. Freeing yourself from addiction can provide you with a new lease on life, enrich your relationships and give you more time and energy for the activities that bring you joy.
New Year’s Resolutions in Recovery : How to Set Resolutions That Stick
New Year’s resolutions in recovery have always had a close and complex relationship. The New Year encourages people to take a look at what they can do to fight the disease of addiction. Often it’s the addict who resolves to get themselves treated in the New Year. Other times it’s a loved one who takes a more active role in getting their friend or family member help. Sometimes a person in recovery takes a look at their life and wants to strengthen their recovery effort.
While most people habitually make New Year’s resolutions in recovery, it’s especially valuable for people in recovery to develop healthy goal-setting strategies. To create effective New Year’s resolutions you’ll be able to keep, remember the acronym SMART, which is short for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.
- Specific: Creating vague or undefined goals is setting yourself up for failure. To set definitive New Year’s resolutions in recovery, detail what you want to accomplish and why this goal is meaningful to you.
- Measurable: Setting parameters around your goal will help you track your progress. For example, saying something like “I will save more money in 2021” doesn’t give you any yardstick to compare yourself to. Instead, you could set a goal like “Every month, I’ll put aside $500 for my retirement fund.”
- Achievable: Ensure your goals are something you can realistically attain. In the previous example, setting aside $500 a month might not be within your reach if you need to pay off debt and are already living from paycheck to paycheck.
- Relevant: It’s more challenging to work toward a goal that doesn’t feel worthwhile.
- Time-bound: Give yourself a deadline to make New Year’s resolutions in recovery feel more solid. You can create a mix of short-term and long-term goals, so you have a few things you can accomplish relatively quickly and others that might take you a couple of months to work toward.
The Danger of Unrealistic Expectations
Unrealistic expectations inevitably lead to frustration and disappointment, which can threaten your sobriety. If you make a resolution to stay sober but fail to work a plan with specific steps guiding you there, you are likely to succumb to stress, pressure, and disillusionment.
Unrealistic expectations are often unfulfilled, which may cause you to give up, deciding it is too difficult to remain sober. Building strong, long-term sobriety takes a lot of work. If you expect the journey to be easy now that you have completed a rehabilitation program, you are setting yourself up for failure. Accept that recovery is a long-term process. As you set and achieve goals that are small yet significant, you are instilling positive lifestyle changes that will permanently enrich your life.
Some New Year’s Resolutions in Recovery to Consider
No two people in recovery are exactly alike. But how can you stay inspired to maintain your sobriety for the 365 days of 2022 and far beyond? Consider these ideas.
Somewhere along the way, we have forgotten the importance of celebrating our successes. As soon as we achieve a goal or reach a big milestone, rather than taking the time to bask in the glory of your achievement, we’re already going after our next goal. In the fast-paced society we live in today, it’s easy to get caught up in this vicious cycle. But taking the time to celebrate your successes is an integral part of the process that you don’t want to skip. Every day look at how far you’ve come on your path to long-term sobriety. Of course there will be challenges along the way, but resolve to focus on all successes – no matter how small.
Regular exercise helps improve your strength, stamina, and energy levels while releasing natural endorphins. If you’re currently leading a sedentary lifestyle, try walking or bike riding after dinner and some invigorating yoga in the morning.
Perform one act of kindness daily.
When you’re in addiction it is impossible to focus on the needs of others, but being in recovery demands that you understand how to be of service to yourself and others. Small acts of kindness like volunteering at a soup kitchen, helping your neighbor move or playing with animals at the local shelter will boost your self-confidence and generate a stronger relationship with your community.
Grateful people are happier people—this seems like wisdom you might find on a bumper sticker because of its obvious truth and positive feel, but research on gratitude also backs up this statement. When you have a moment when someone does something for you that fills your heart with grateful feelings of warmth, it can feel wonderful. But you don’t have to wait for circumstances to bring this feeling to you—there are things you can do in your life to proactively create feelings of gratitude for yourself with the experiences you already have in your life, and create new experiences that will bring more feelings of gratitude to your life and to the lives of those around you. And with this gratitude comes several benefits, among them an increased resilience toward stress!
New Year’s Resolutions in Recovery : Resolve to journal every day.
Especially if you just left inpatient treatment, there is a lot you are still learning about yourself and about living in recovery. A helpful New Year’s resolution in recovery may be to journal regularly. Not only is journaling therapeutic in many ways, but also it can help you track your good days and bad as well as note relapse triggers. Journaling may also help you determine when you may be at risk of relapse and alert you to getting outside help before it is too late.
Challenge your negative thoughts.
Addiction is often caused in part to destructive and negative thought patterns that may even be built on faulty logic or become wildly exaggerated if unchecked. One of your New Year’s resolutions in recovery should be to challenge your negative thoughts whenever you feel them starting to spiral out of control. Make an effort to examine toxic thoughts when they pop into your head and break them down. You should also challenge yourself to look at the bright side. This change in thinking can drastically improve your outlook on life.
New Year’s Resolutions in Recovery with Harmony Ridge
While sobriety may be your top priority in the New Year, there may be additional resolutions that can help benefit your recovery. Practices like gratitude journaling, regular check-ins with loved ones, and daily exercise are part of a healthy lifestyle and can help prevent relapse. For this reason, not every goal you set needs to focus solely on sobriety. Instead, include various resolutions that will promote happiness, boost self-esteem, and improve your relationships.
Remember that long-lasting change requires consistency, and getting into the groove of a new routine is one of the biggest hurdles when it comes to achieving New Year’s resolutions.
Adjusting to a new way of living isn’t easy and often requires some accountability. Some days will feel more difficult than others, but the support of a Harmony Ridge Recovery can help you overcome the moments when you feel like giving up. This is why it’s so important to not only share your goals with your support system but to work at rebuilding trust in your relationships.