29 Jan Recovery Resolutions by Vonique Schmidt, LPCC
When considering how to support your own recovery, first it is essential that you define what recovery means to you and what that might look like in your life. If you are someone struggling with addiction, sobriety does not equate to recovery. The distinction of “recovery” work can be seen when someone is striving to make improvements emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. Therefore, “being in recovery” can be used to describe all types of individuals, not just those living with addictions or specific disorders.
One of the most obvious and immediate problems with New Year’s resolutions is that most folks make too many of them; additionally, they are often unrealistic. One common cycle is starting the resolution off strong and then fading out. If you don’t believe me, check out any gym in January and then go back in March. Here are some pointers as to how to create doable goals in a realistic way.
In order to meet the goals you have set forth, keep the following in mind:
Is my goal measurable? Setting a goal that is too broad is likely to result in failure. Instead of, “I want to be a better person” or “I want to get fit this year,” try – “I want to help one person a week” or “I want to work out 3 days/week.” You are more likely to achieve your overall goal if you break it down into activities you can measure. This method also allows for you to look at your progress over time.
Is this goal achievable? It is not helpful if we set a goal that is far-fetched, unrealistic, and most importantly, difficult to sustain over time. If you would like to increase the amount of books you read this year, but have a toddler and work 40 hours a week, a book a week is likely to be too much. Instead, shoot for something more realistic – perhaps a book a month. This way, if you go above and beyond this, it feels great!
Am I holding myself accountable by sharing my goal with others? Talk to your loved ones or a close confidant about your goals for 2017. For example, if you would like to stop eating the sugary goodies from the breakroom at work, talk to a trusted co-worker who can help keep you accountable. By sharing our intentions with others, they can help keep us accountable by checking-in and providing encouragement when needed.
When can I start? Setting a goal can feel overwhelming. If there is $200,000.000 of debt sitting on your credit cards – stop ignoring it and start doing something about it. Apathy is your biggest enemy when it comes to goal-setting. Feelings of anxiety are normal but acknowledging and taking a step forward, no matter how small, will result in you feeling better about the daunting task. Ignoring it will likely lead to a worsening of the problem.
How can I document this? Write your goal down on a post-it note and put it on your steering wheel, or bathroom mirror, or closet door, etc. Write it down and put it somewhere that you will see everyday; this will also help combat apathy and keep you motivated.
One more thought before we conclude; I was chatting with my husband about the idea of resolutions and his thought was, “What if we made our resolutions around helping others? Would we be so quick to give up?” This reminded me (perfect timing, I know) of a famous quote from Martin Luther King…
“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”
I think my husband is on to something. If each of us were to commit to volunteering, helping out an elderly family member, or showing up for that friend of ours who is a single parent with 4 kids, would we be as likely to give up on the resolutions that we had set? My inclination is, no. When we give of ourselves, expecting nothing in return, we feel good. Subsequently, it is likely we would make better choices in relation to our own lives – eat healthier, sleep more, take the dog for more walks, etc. Volunteering your time creates a trickle-down effect because it boosts self-compassion and self-esteem. In conclusion, keep in mind the best way to achieve your goals and consider donating your time this year by helping others achieve theirs, it certainly can’t hurt.