Those of us in recovery are lucky to always have new possibilities and the chance to start fresh. But the New Year can be an especially welcome time to set goals. Unfortunately, University of Scranton research shows that only about 8% of Americans successfully achieve their New Year’s resolutions. One of the biggest barriers to people making these resolutions come true is that their goals are not realistic to begin with.
In recovery, we can become a part of the 8% who achieve their New Year goals by learning how to set realistic New Year’s resolutions. To do that, our goals must be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Need a kick-start? Here are a few SMART New Year’s Resolutions for people in recovery:
· I resolve to exercise for 30 minutes 3 times a week.
Addiction recovery is about getting healthy. Abusing alcohol and drugs for an extended period means we have likely caused damage to our physical health. Regular exercise is one of the best ways to help your body heal. Instead of making the general resolution to exercise more, set exact times and durations for exercise goals to help you stay on track and remain accountable.
· I resolve to try one new thing every month.
When we are in active addiction, drugs and alcohol consume our life and take up all of our free time. So, in recovery it may feel like something is missing. A realistic recovery goal may be to take steps to find something to fill that void. Why not make the commitment to try one new thing a month to open yourself up to new opportunities? You can meet new people and may discover a new passion that can help you fill the time that recovery has given you.
· I resolve to journal three times a week.
In recovery, there’s a lot we are still learning about ourselves and about living clean and sober. A helpful New Year’s resolution can be to journal regularly. Not only is journaling therapeutic in many ways, but also it can help you track your good days and bad so that you can recognize personal relapse triggers. Journaling can alert you to the need for outside help before it is too late.
· I resolve to touch base with a loved one at least once a month.
Many people with substance use disorders isolate themselves from their friends and loved ones. Now that you’re sober, it’s time to make these people more of a priority in your life. Not only can regular contact (in-person when safe or over the phone) help you to mend relationships that were probably damaged during active addiction, but also it can help you build up your support system and keep your recovery on track.
· I resolve to challenge my negative thoughts as they occur.
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 addiction recovery resolutions 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.
In recovery, it’s helpful to make time to count our blessings. Along with trying to think more positively, a realistic New Year’s resolution for recovery is to practice gratitude regularly. Taking time to be grateful for what we have and how far we’ve come in recovery helps remind us why we never want to go back. Setting aside just five minutes a week to write down what we are thankful for is beneficial.
L.A. CADA understands that recovery means taking it one day at a time. We wish you blessings and accomplishment on each of your 365 new days in 2021.