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“Resolutions are about progress, not perfection”
The promise of the New Year makes optimists out of most of us. We feel empowered by the symbolic new beginning that it offers and want to reinvent ourselves. Most people make resolutions that involve the “commitment” to improve their lives. This commitment to a resolution can be a positive step towards self-improvement but there are certain realities that must be kept in mind when making the resolutions. First and foremost is the need to keep the resolution realistic. Grandiose goals that are unlikely to be achieved can lead to disappointment that may bring about negative traits that the individual is attempting to improve.
If a resolution to get clean and sober is made (whether at New Year’s or any other time), it is essential that any progress made towards achieving that end is embraced, even if there are setbacks. The road to recovery cannot be achieved through wishful thinking. Making a kind of “oath” on New Year’s does not involve any magical component that will render the goal easier to achieve. The commitment to a chemical dependency free existence involves the same amount of work 365 days a year. The commitment is the beginning. What is most important after that commitment is the effort and progress that can only be realised through hard work. The problem with the resolution myth is that an “aura” seems to surround it that suggests that it will be easier to achieve if it is made at a certain time under certain conditions. Chemical dependency does not limit their excessiveness to one month of the year. It is an affliction that resonates throughout the year and any resolution or commitment to change that way of life is a positive and hopeful sign, regardless of what time of the year it is. The key is to recognise the hard work in recovery – work that can be facilitated through Silkworth Lodge – and to understand that the resolution infatuation at New Year’s is more of a gimmick than a true path to recovery.
A big part of making sure that we follow through with resolutions is setting goals that are small, significant, and realistic. Instead of making promises and resolutions you don’t intend to keep, start with something small. Have a look at the following realistic New Year’s resolutions for people in recovery which will help you brainstorm goals that will inspire you to stay on the path to sobriety:
1. I will write in my journal for 15 minutes each day. Journal writing is an excellent tool for people in recovery to better understand their emotions, what triggers their cravings, and what coping strategies are best suited for their personal needs.
2. I will exercise for 30 minutes per day. Regular exercise helps improve your strength, stamina, and energy levels while releasing natural endorphins. If you’re currently leading a very sedentary lifestyle, try walking or bike riding after dinner and some invigorating yoga in the morning.
3. I will learn a new sober hobby. Part of being in recovery means finding new ways to enjoy your free time without drugs or alcohol. You may choose to attend cooking classes, explore an interest in foreign films, take up watercolour painting, or finally learn to play the guitar. Any interest that you’re passionate about is going to be beneficial to the recovery process.
4. I will schedule quality time with friends and family at least once per week. Repairing relationships after chemical dependency won’t happen overnight, but you can take baby steps towards stronger bonds by treating the time you spend together as a priority to be scheduled in your calendar. Enjoy a home cooked meal, watch a movie together, or break out a fun board game to play. Turn off your phone so there are no distractions, then focus on communicating honestly and openly.
5. I will perform a random act of kindness each day. When you’re struggling with chemical dependency, you’re so consumed with your substance abuse that it’s impossible to focus on the people around you. Being in recovery requires rediscovering how to be of service to others. Pay for a stranger’s coffee, volunteer at your child’s school, or help an elderly neighbour carry her groceries. Finding ways to give back will boost your self-confidence and promote stronger relationships with the people around you.
6. I will ask for help when I need it. Chemical dependency is a chronic illness, not a moral failing caused by a lack of willpower. If you’re feeling the urge to use, call your sponsor. If you are considering skipping a meeting because you don’t have transportation, call a friend who has been supportive of your recovery and ask for a ride. Putting yourself out there may be uncomfortable at first, but it’s a necessary step in the recovery process.
7. I will celebrate my successes and not be critical of my failures. Being committed to recovery requires a growth mind set. You must realise that obstacles are to be expected and that you may make mistakes along the way. This does not mean that you’re a bad person or that the progress you’ve made isn’t important. It simply means you need to take the time to re-evaluate your plans and make sure your coping strategies are best suited to your personal needs.
Just because New Year’s resolutions have a track record of failure doesn’t mean that yours will be. There are measures we can take to realistically and successfully integrate New Year’s resolutions and recovery.
If you’re committed to taking the path to recovery, any time of the year is a good time to start. Any step we take toward helping ourselves or the people we care about get help is progress.
The staff here at Silkworth Charity Group wishes everyone a safe, happy and sober New Year.
Sourced: Waypoint, Searidge, Recovery Unplugged
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