Now that the holiday festivities are wrapping up, people across the nation are planning the tradition that comes with every January 1st: New Year’s resolutions.
The end of one year and the beginning of the next is a time for fresh starts and clean slates. People hope to improve or even remake themselves in order to make 2019 better than 2018.
When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, however, many people kick off the first of January with good intentions and high expectations. After all, self-improvement is a shared American hobby! This tradition is the reason why so many people make New Year’s resolutions in the first place.
How to Stay Strong in Your Recovery
“For addicts, a New Year’s resolution can be especially risky because the stakes are higher and therefore, the opportunity to feel disappointment is greater.”
It’s easy to become discouraged with New Year’s resolutions. How many goals set at the beginning of each year end up forgotten by the time February rolls around?
For most people, it’s easy to become discouraged when they fall short of their goals – be it losing weight, finding a better job, or eating healthier.
But for those who are seeking to break free from the cycle of addiction, New Year’s resolutions can be especially risky. The stakes are higher and, therefore, the disappointment can be greater when the resolution doesn’t work out as planned. This can further exacerbate the conceived negative traits that were trying to be improved upon.
No matter what your pledge, it’ll be much more difficult to follow through if you make goals that, for one reason or another, are nearly impossible to keep. Don’t set yourself up for failure – heed these tips to see your resolutions through this year:
1. Abandon the “laundry list” method of resolution-making
If you have a lot of different things to accomplish, that’s fine – but start off going deep instead of wide. Filter your New Year’s resolution ‘to-do’ list to the fewest, most important ones and tackle those first, instead of scattering your time and energy on a broad range of competing ambitions.
2. Don’t confuse goal-getting with goal-setting
Oaths and promises to yourself are not enough to make a change. Once you have a vision on lock-down, it’s time to create an action plan. However, don’t confuse one with the other, as often many do. Goal-setting means that you’ve decided what you wanted to accomplish, while goal-getting is the “how” of getting to that – the action plan that will let you achieve it.
3. Keep your New Year’s resolution specific and tangible
Setting ambitious resolutions can be inspiring, but the difficulty in achieving them means that your elation can quickly give way to frustration. Set out just to “be sober” or “be healthy”, and you’re selling yourself short.
In health behavior change and maintenance studies, the effects of setting difficult but specific goals lead to higher performance when compared with no goals or vague, non-quantitative goals, such as “do your best.”
Vague goals give people too much leeway and lower their motivation to push themselves. For example, if your goal is to quit the bottle for good, give yourself a time-frame of accomplishment, enroll in a program that will help you achieve sobriety within that particular time, and chart your wins along the way.
4. Don’t expose yourself to temptation
New Year’s resolutions are hard enough to abide by, even when they’re made in the right way – so don’t make your job more difficult. Our resolve diminishes the more we’re forced to say ‘no,’ so avoid situations where you have to choose.
5. Keep your friends and family in the know
Whether it’s Weight Watchers or Al-Anon, social support groups exist because having the support of others is really helpful when trying to accomplish a difficult goal.
If joining a group isn’t really your thing, you can still increase your chances of success or reduce your level of stress and anxiety about achieving your goals by telling a few supportive individuals about it.
Ask them to help keep you motivated as you tackle the challenges ahead of you. If you feel comfortable enough, ask them to hold you accountable as well.
Keep these tips in mind when writing your resolutions for 2019, and make this coming year the best one yet.