As we approach the New Year, many people around the world are beginning to think about their goals, aspirations, and resolutions for 2021. If you’re in recovery from an addiction, or aspiring to get sober, this time of year can provoke a variety of emotions.
If you’re confident in your recovery journey, you may be excited for the opportunity to set new goals related to your sobriety. On the other hand, if you’re still in the throes of your addiction, you may not know where to start. You may also be facing immense pressure from those around you to make a change.
Every path is different, but whatever your case may be, we are here to help. Based on research, as well as the input from our Crest View community, we’ve compiled a list of tips to help you set realistic, achievable, and empowering resolutions, as well as examples of resolutions you can consider as you start or continue your recovery journey.
Tips for Setting New Year’s Resolutions in Recovery
As is the case with many things in life, taking that first step toward something new is often the most difficult. But remember, just because they are called “New Year’s Resolutions” does not mean that your goals need to be signed, sealed, and delivered by January 1. Don’t let that date cripple you or hold you back. Grab a pen and a piece of paper, and simply start brainstorming. Reach out to someone you trust and start hashing out ideas. Take small steps to get the wheels turning.
Ask for help.
Although sobriety is very personal, it is not a journey meant to be taken alone. Asking for help is not a weakness, but a strength. It takes courage. If you’re at a standstill with your goal-setting, remember that there are people around you who want to help. Seek advice from a family member or friend who knows you well, or a therapist.
Continue the progress you’ve already made.
If you’ve already found sobriety and have developed habits that work well for you, don’t feel pressure to fix what isn’t broken. It is perfectly acceptable for your resolution to be maintaining those positive habits that you’ve already established. Once you feel comfortable and ready for the next step, you can start to think about ways to build on that progress – which is an exercise that can happen during any time of year, not just January 1.
Consider using the SMART goal framework.
Let’s use exercising as an example.
- Specific: According to Psychology Today, one of the top reasons that New Year’s resolutions fail is because they aren’t clear enough. Instead of saying “I want to exercise more in the New Year,” be more specific: “I want to exercise 4 days a week.”
- Measurable: What m etrics will you use to monitor your progress? If you ensure that your goal is specific, as mentioned above, then it should be straightforward to measure. Create a calendar and track how many days each week you exercise, and assess after several weeks have passed. Have you stuck to your goal? If you haven’t, think about what changes you may need to make in order to achieve it. Making adjustments is okay!
- Achievable: Don’t overwhelm yourself by biting off more than you can chew. If you are not someone who exercises frequently, then you will need to allow yourself time to build your endurance. If you set your goals beyond what you’re really capable of, then you’ll feel discouraged or overwhelmed if you don’t achieve them.
- Relevant: Will your resolution propel you forward in your sobriety, or hold you back? If you already exercise consistently, then adding more workouts could actually do more harm than good (you need rest!). In this case, your resolution could be centered less around the frequency of your workouts, and more so on adding more variety to your workout routine.
- Time-based: Create a concrete timeline for your goal, and set monthly check-ins with yourself (and someone you trust). It’s also helpful to create sub-tasks within your larger goal. For example, if you do not currently exercise frequently, but your goal is to work out consistently 4 times a week by summertime, then start by incorporating a couple workouts per week in the first month, then gradually build and work toward those checkpoints.
If you’re not yet sober, but want to get sober, be mindful of your approach to setting resolutions. First, determine the extent of your addiction or substance abuse. For those who are not yet dependent on a substance, quitting “cold turkey” may be feasible and safe (but not always!), but for others, it can be dangerous. We recommend consulting a professional to help you navigate this, create safe expectations for yourself, and ensure you have a safe environment around you to help you make progress.
Frame your goals positively.
Research has found that people who set “approach goals” (i.e. I will do XYZ), versus “avoidance goals” (i.e. I will not do XYZ), are significantly more likely to succeed in achieving their goals.
For example, we find that a frequent goal for those in recovery is to repair broken relationships. Instead of framing this as “I will stop disappointing my loved ones,” reframe as “I will make the necessary changes in my lifestyle that will make my loved ones feel proud of me,” or “I will do XYZ to strengthen my relationships with loved ones and friends.” From there, use the SMART goal framework to flesh those ideas out further.
Confide in someone you trust.
Share your goals with a loved one, friend, and/or therapist. As mentioned earlier, this will help you ensure that your goals are realistic and in support of your recovery, as well as help hold you accountable. Schedule regular check-ins to discuss your progress and any challenges you may be facing.
Remember that life is ever-changing, so your goals can be, too.
Life happens, unexpected things come up, and circumstances can change. The important thing, as mentioned earlier, is to not be stifled or discouraged by change, but rather adapt to it.
Remember that roadblocks will occur, and that’s okay.
Challenging times are growth opportunities. Hitting roadblocks is a part of the process – even for people who seemingly “have it all together.” Be flexible. If you face triggers, take a step back and do what you need to do to take care of yourself — even if it means delaying the timeline you established for your goal.
Don’t compare your journey with others.
Focus inward, not outward. Everyone’s journey is unique. Comparing yourself to others, their goals, and their progress, may distract and discourage you, and ultimately prevent you from achieving your goals.
Ideas for those already in recovery:
- Repair relationships that may have been harmed when you were using.
- Incorporate mindfulness activities into your daily habits. This can include journaling, meditation, yoga, daily intention exercises, breathing exercises, gratitude exercises, and spending time in nature.
- Set financial goals. When shackled by addiction, your finances often suffer. Now that you’re sober, you’re more likely to maintain a job and have a steady source of income that you’re not spending on alcohol or drugs. Create a budget for yourself to help you stay within your means and save for the long-term.
- Try a new hobby or volunteer. When you were using, did you lose sight of healthy hobbies and passions that you used to hold dear? When you find sobriety, you gain a lot of time back. Invest this time into healthy distractions. Research shows that volunteering not only helps the people you’re serving, but can also boost your mental health.
- Read more! Getting lost in a good book is not only a healthy way to divert stress, but is also a means to gain greater perspective on life. Whether you’re reading inspiring stories of other individuals in recovery, or stories completely unrelated to sobriety, reading shows us how to view situations from a new lens, creates connection, and builds empathy.
Ideas for those who are not yet sober:
- Find simple ways to promote better health. If you live with an addiction but don’t yet feel ready for treatment, try incorporating some basic self-care exercises into your daily routine. This can include more exercise, clean eating, better sleep, and mindfulness exercises. Over time, you’ll start to feel the positive impact of these activities, which may give you the motivation you need to seek professional treatment and break free entirely from your addiction.
- Reduce your intake of social media. Social media can be a great source of inspiration to help you get sober (you can follow Crest View on social media at the bottom of this page!). However, it is widely known that social media also has the potential to cause anxiety and depression – both of which are linked to substance abuse. Try to limit your use each day, and be mindful of which accounts you follow – are they helping or harming your journey toward sobriety?
- Obtain a sponsor and/or see a therapist. If you’re not yet ready to enter rehab or treatment, an alternative step you can take is to seek the counsel of a sponsor or therapist who specializes in addiction support. They can help you assess your level of need, begin to explore the potential causes of your addiction, and help you find a treatment center when you’re ready.
- Start introducing yourself to what recovery can look like. If professional treatment feels intimidating to you, seeking outside resources to learn more about it can help quell your fears. For example, consider an AA meeting, where you can hear others’ stories, ask questions, and take reading material. Do research online, or even buy a book about recovery.
- Make the call (it doesn’t mean a commitment). If you’re based in the North Carolina or surrounding area, give us a call at Crest View Recovery Center. Even if you don’t feel ready for treatment, we want to hear from you. We can talk through your situation, share recovery stories that may resonate with you, and discuss our personalized and holistic addiction treatment approach. Even if we’re not the right fit for you once you’re ready, we’ll give you the tools and resources to find a recovery center that is.
Are you or a loved one ready to seek help?
Located in the beautiful mountains of Asheville, North Carolina, Crest View Recovery Center offers comprehensive substance abuse treatment programs to help you along your journey to sobriety. Comfortable, beautiful, safe, and private, our center provides individualized addiction therapy services that take your specific needs and circumstances into consideration. We know you have a unique journey, so we’ll create a unique recovery plan that fits you.
We’re ready when you are.
Contact Crest View Recovery Center staff at 866-350-5622 today or submit a form here.