Resolutions are an exciting element of the New Year. They bring with them a sense of adventure and hope. They provide relief from the past and the motivation to make the new year better than the last.
After a Difficult 2020, We Can Create New Goals and Dreams for 2021
If the pandemic took a toll on your physical and emotional health–particularly if it led to or worsened substance misuse and addiction–now is the time to make a change. Easier said than done, of course. As helpful as making resolutions can be, following through presents the much bigger challenge.
According to an article in Psychology Today, most resolutions are hard to complete because they lack urgency. We don’t see their importance because their due date (sometime in 2021) is vague and far off. For example, if you’ve resolved to go from couch potato to beach bod in 2021, it’s easy to put off the diet and exercise routine until “next week,” especially when a slice of chocolate cake is put in front of you.
In addition to the future being and feeling distant, we tend to crave routine. Resolutions require change, and it can feel overwhelming to rewire our brains to introduce new habits and eliminate old vices.
That said, there’s a way to make resolutions that give you a much greater chance of seeing them through. It starts by keeping your goals healthy and realistic. Take an honest look at your habits and routines. If you want to quit smoking, going “cold turkey” may not work. Instead, think of one thing you can do every day to move toward that goal. Maybe you eliminate your smoke breaks and fill that time slot with something else: a short walk, meditation, reading a book, listening to a podcast, calling a friend, etc.
We Are Creatures of Routine
To change our reality, we start by changing our routine. That said, if you’re working to kick an addiction to alcohol or drugs, it can be difficult and even dangerous to attempt to do this on your own. Perhaps the first resolution to make in this case is to seek treatment. You can divide this into steps to help it seem less overwhelming. For example, step one could be finding a local treatment facility and calling them. The admissions counselors can help you decide what level of treatment will work best for you.
If you have already overcome an addiction and are looking to stabilize and sustain a healthy recovery, your New Year’s resolutions can be catered toward changing the routines in your life that are not serving you well. Maybe you need to resolve to get more sleep or to work harder on a particular relationship. Remember that the key to making these changes is to take small, specific steps.
Here are three more ways we can make our 2021 goals more achievable:
Analyze why you’re making your resolutions. Are they a way to recover from specific failures? If so, have you forgiven yourself for those failures? In forgiving ourselves for our failures in 2020, we can be more realistic and positive about setting goals for 2021. We can look at the changes we want to make as opportunities for greater happiness instead of as punishment.
- Gifts that Keep Giving
Create resolutions based on what you want for yourself–not on what you think will please other people. Weight loss, yoga practice, or even sobriety–all of these are excellent goals. But you will lose your motivation quickly if you’re making these resolutions solely to make someone else happy.
It’s unrealistic to choose resolutions that add more stress to our lives. If you want to learn Japanese, have you really considered the time and practice that will take? Better to set a more realistic goal, such as to enroll in an online beginner’s course that meets at a time that will fit your schedule.
It’s also unrealistic to try to make abrupt personality changes without any kind of support or structure. “Be less angry,” for example, will not get you very far if you don’t take steps to learn about your anger and address it in healthy ways. For example, you might want to seek counseling. In addition, you might resolve to learn to say “no” or to otherwise address a fear of confrontation. You might take up a daily meditation practice.
In other words, we need to create support beams for the building of the resolution and realize that we cannot make something out of nothing.
Creating Resolutions at Great Oaks Recovery Center
If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction–or are simply feeling scared about how much substance use has taken over your life–we can help. Our experienced, compassionate staff will help you reach your goals for 2021 and beyond, unfettered by drugs and alcohol. From detox to aftercare, our full continuum of care will ensure that you have the tools and resources you need to move forward with health and well-being. Contact us today to talk with a counselor about how we can help you.