New Year’s resolutions are a time-honored tradition in the United States. They allow us the chance to reflect on the past, reset our minds, and establish goals for the year ahead. For those in recovery, setting New Year’s resolutions can be a great way to re-focus on your sobriety and mental health, and set realistic goals for the months ahead.
However, we are not just talking about a set-it-and-forget-it resolution. We are not talking about a resolution that will require mountains to move. We are talking about realistic, actionable goals that will help you sustain a successful recovery.
Too often, people set unrealistic resolutions for the new year, and fail to follow through on their goals. This only leads to feelings of inadequacy and disappointment in one’s self. For this reason, we suggest moving away from the idea of making great, ground-breaking “recovery resolutions.” Instead, focus on setting small, yet positive goals. Goal setting in recovery is a great way to improve your quality of life and strengthen your sobriety, one step at a time.
As the American Psychological Association cited in a recent article, “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.”
To set effective goals or resolutions in recovery, it is important to ensure they are:
- Specific and defined
- Measurable, so that you can quantify your success
- Achievable and realistic
- Relevant and meaningful to you
- Timely (e.g. weekly, daily, monthly goals)
Below are seven examples of goals that meet all of the above qualifications—and fit the bill for some effective New Year’s resolutions in recovery.
Recovery Resolution Examples
- I will attend a support group or meeting at least once a week.
Attending support groups or 12-step meetings is an important component of the recovery process. It is a great way to reinforce your commitment to recovery, as well as check-in with others and build your sober network. If you are not already attending meetings, your recovery resolution may be to find a local (or virtual) group in your area.
- I will start a recovery journal, and write for 15 minutes a day.
Journaling can be a great tool in addiction recovery. It gives you the opportunity to reflect on the day, on your thoughts and feelings, and get back in tune with yourself. If you are struggling with cravings or difficult emotions, journaling can serve as a great way to work through those challenges. It will also give you the chance to count your blessings and re-focus on gratitude.
- I will prioritize self-care on a daily basis.
You deserve to be healthy and happy. You deserve to feel your best. This year, be sure to prioritize your own happiness and health. Take at least 15 minutes a day to wash your face, stretch, or do something that makes you feel good.
- I will exercise at least four days a week.
Research shows that exercise reduces stress, increases energy, improves mood, and promotes better sleep patterns. For this reason, it is another essential item in your recovery toolkit. If quarantine has thrown a wrench in your exercise routine, use this resolution as a chance to reset your focus on health in 2021. Even if you cannot go to the physical gym, you can still go for a run, get out and hike, take virtual workout classes, or even take walks with friends.
- I will schedule quality time with family and friends each week.
Friends and family who support your sobriety are some of the most valuable assets you can have. Be sure to prioritize spending time with those that care about your health. Even if your addiction damaged relationships in the past, now is a great time to try and mend those bonds again. You can make fun and meaningful traditions out of home-cooked meals, board games, coffee dates, and/or movie nights.
- I will ask for help when I need it.
This is a tough, yet achievable, resolution for those in recovery. It is easy to fall into a habit of not asking for help, or trying to do everything ourselves – especially those that are newly independent and out of treatment. You want to look like you have it all together, but to be frank, it’s okay if you don’t. You are still allowed to ask for help. If you need a ride to your meeting, if you need a shoulder to lean on, if you need a mental health day off work, do not be afraid to ask for it. Your support network will be there for you, whenever you need it.
- I will challenge my negative thoughts.
Addiction is often caused by destructive and negative thought patterns. You may have a history of self-doubt or self-blame, depression or anxiety. There may be days you don’t feel worthy, or days you feel hopeless and overwhelmed. This is normal. Do your best to stay positive, and challenge any negative thoughts or feelings that come your way. Take control; do not let them control you.
2020 was a tough year, in which many of us felt loss in different ways. Some lost loved ones; some lost meaningful connections with family and friends. Some lost their way. Many of us are now left with trauma, anxiety, depression, and other mental health struggles from this global pandemic. You are not alone. You have the power to overcome these challenges, and become the best version of yourself. By taking control of your thoughts, your actions, and your recovery goals – and taking the steps needed to get the help you need – you can push through.
Setting Goals in Recovery
At Turnbridge, we believe in the power of setting goals in recovery. This is one of the first conversations we’ll have with clients in their therapy sessions. Usually, young men and women arrive at Turnbridge without a clear focus. At first, many do not know what they want to get out of treatment, or what they want to achieve in life. Many are hesitant to make changes, and feel they do not have a purpose.
Establishing goals can put meaning back into a person’s life. When you have clearly-defined objectives, you have something to work towards. Something that gives you purpose. This can, in turn, contribute to greater self-worth.
So as you look forward to the year ahead, think about what will give you purpose and meaning. What do you want to overcome? Who do you want to become?
To learn more about the recovery journey and how Turnbridge can help, do not hesitate to call 877-581-1793. We are here for you, every step of the way.