The age-old tradition of setting resolutions on the first day of the year has gone on for centuries, as has the practice of setting ridiculously unreachable goals that pitter out after the first week. Some set a goal to lose 50 lbs, but soon find that they don’t have quite the self-discipline they expected and lose sight of their goal in the first month. Others declare that they will hit the gym five times a week, but their daily stresses and activities cause them to attend less and less frequently until they stop going altogether.
Then, there are others who set goals each new year, and succeed in keeping them. Usually, their secret is not found in their sheer will power and superhuman capabilities, but in their wisdom in setting realistic goals.
This concept is especially important for those recovering from addiction to remember when setting New Years resolutions. Stay away from lofty, difficult objectives. Start small, and if you find yourself wildly successful in that small goal you’ve set, up the stakes. This is the quickest route to recovery. If you’re looking for some realistic goals to help you in your current phase of addiction recovery, consider these manageable resolution suggestions.
Manage a Character Flaw
As you may have learned from your recovery meetings, addictive behavior often occurs because you’re unable to manage certain behaviors. To help you on your road to recovery, choose a character flaw that you believe may be likely to cause a relapse, and focus on managing it. It’s very important to start small on this one. Notice that this particular resolution does not encourage you to manage every character flaw you might have. Simply pick one and focus on perfecting that for the year. You don’t even need to work on your worst one if you don’t think you can handle it. For example, if you have a terrible temper (and that’s by far your worst flaw) but you also have a tendency to think very negatively about yourself, tackle the smaller one to start with. Foster positive thinking to help you overcome that drawback. Once you’ve mastered the smaller emotion, move on to the bigger battle. Success is found in taking baby steps.
Express Gratitude Regularly
Gratitude has been proven in a number of studies to uplift and increase courage. Being grateful for the things you have helps you to lose the sense of entitlement that often accompanies addictive behavior. To help keep this resolution manageable all year round, start with a goal to express gratitude to someone just once a month, but make that expression of gratitude really meaningful. You could make a phone call, send a card, write down how grateful you are for a person or thing, or perform a service for someone as a thank you. Such a small, but realistic goal will help you to recognize the many blessings you possess.
Keep a Journal
This is a common New Year’s resolution that dies out very quickly, but it won’t die out for you if you approach it correctly. Many people try to set a goal that’s too big, determining to write in their journal for 10 minutes every day. That’s a surprisingly difficult task. Instead, simply set a goal to keep a journal. It doesn’t matter if you only write in it once a week or once a month. Keeping a journal can be very therapeutic. That one time each month when you jot down your thoughts and feelings will help you release emotions that you might not have been able to get out otherwise. You might even find this release of emotions so addicting that you may eventually want to write in your journal every day.
Rebuild a Relationship
Unfortunately, addiction can take many things away from you, including relationships that you cherished. If you are truly on the mend from your addiction and committed to your recovery, this new year may be the best time to try to rebuild one of those lost relationships. Take into account that no matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to force change on anyone but yourself, so if you’ve hurt someone very badly, they might not be ready to reforge a relationship with you. That doesn’t mean you can’t try. Find opportunities to prove yourself worthy of this person’s support, seek ways to serve them, express gratitude for them, and show a positive attitude, and those who you’ve loved and lost may very well be willing to forgive you and start again. Rebuilding relationships, even if it’s just one, is one of the healthiest outlets available for a recovering addict.
As you make your New Years resolutions, share them with someone who can help you keep on track. As explained in this article, friends and family who love you and want to support you in your recovery are the best motivators around. With their support, you may find that this new year will be the best one yet.
Author – Amber Brubaker
Image courtesy of vulcanpost