By Haley Kennedy, Recovery Coach – 1.1.2021 —
The fresh start of a New Year. This symbolic new beginning can feel empowering and fill us with optimism, especially for those of us in recovery. Most of us and our lives have already been transformed in drastic ways and the New Year presents another opportunity to reinvent ourselves, or at the very least, help us identify areas of our lives that we would like to improve.
New Year’s resolutions and recovery have a close and complex relationship. The New Year encourages us to take a look at what we can continue to do to combat the disease of addiction.
Often, it’s the individual who resolves to accept treatment in the New Year. Other times, it’s a loved one who decides to take a more active role in supporting their friend or family member. Or it could be a person in recovery that chooses to strengthen their recovery effort after reflection of the last year.
REINVENTING YOURSELF IN RECOVERY
The dominant theme in recovery is the idea of a ‘fresh start with a clean slate.’ Recovery allows us to shed the old skin and provides the opportunity to turn everything negative in our lives around.
However, our promises to ourselves are only as strong as our commitment to maintain them. As many of us both in and out of recovery know, it’s incredibly easy to break New Year’s resolutions. Sometimes it’s as simple as settling into complacency at work. Others might abandon deeper self-reflection for the sake of convenience or to avoid uncomfortable feelings. The truth is, the concepts of self-care and growth take a backseat to self-preservation and giving in to old habits.
For someone trying to start the year off in recovery, it can feel impossible to uphold this kind of resolution. Our perception of New Year’s resolutions can make it hard to seriously dedicate ourselves to one. But the good news is that reinventing yourself is possible if you genuinely commit to following through with change.
MAKING NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS IN RECOVERY
When it comes to New Year’s resolutions and recovery, the stakes are much higher. Addiction is a time-sensitive chronic disease that doesn’t wait for us to have the time to deal with it. Making excuses about why you haven’t given yourself the chance or gotten treatment can become second nature. We tell ourselves that treatment would have too much of an impact on our lives. But in reality, we are making excuses to avoid giving ourselves the attention we need and deserve. There isn’t enough time to treat recovery like ‘just any other New Year’s resolution.’ If you’re going to make the promise to take the steps toward recovery, you need to recognize how important it is to keep that commitment. Recovery is infinitely harder than resolutions like losing weight or saving money. When it comes to the disease of addiction, it’s a matter of life and death. You must be serious about making a resolution of getting treatment or living a life in recovery.
HOW SMART GOALS CAN START THE YEAR OFF RIGHT
A big part of making sure that we follow through with resolutions is setting goals that are small, but significant, and realistic. Instead of making a monumental resolution that you don’t intend to keep, or you are unsure you are capable of, start with something small.
· If you’ve been contemplating seeking treatment for the first time, maybe your resolution is to reach out to PCO or a loved one for help or to learn about the available options.
· Or if you have felt particularly vulnerable to relapse maybe your resolution is to increase your meeting attendance or to find a fellowship.
· Or if you are like me, maybe this past year and all its difficulties have shined a spotlight on the areas you think you fall short and your resolution is to strengthen those areas through therapy, reading self-help books or by engaging in the step writing process.
By committing to small-scale steps towards a life in recovery, you create positive habits that last a lifetime.
HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM PCO
Again, if you are like me, and feel that your New Year’s resolutions had a track record of failure, that doesn’t mean this one will be. Change is possible! These efforts will help you realistically and successfully integrate New Year’s resolutions into your recovery. But you don’t need to depend on a New Year’s resolution, because if you commit to your path to recovery, any time of the year is a good time to start! Recovery is a lifelong journey. ANY steps we take toward helping ourselves, or the ones we love, is progress. Remind yourself: “You have not come this far, to only come this far.”