New year, new beginnings: A guide to setting and achieving goals
We discuss how to set useful resolutions in substance use recovery.
A happy new year to everyone! It's a great time to reflect on our journey to recover from problems related to drugs or alcohol. Setting resolutions and goals can be a powerful way to channel your energy towards positive change. Here are some tips and tricks to help you set realistic and achievable aspirations to lead a healthier and more fulfilling life in recovery.
Start small, and work from there
One of the keys to successful goal-setting is to begin with small, manageable steps. Instead of overwhelming yourself with grand resolutions, break down your objectives into smaller, more achievable tasks. For instance:
- calling a helpline
- contacting a GP
- talking to someone you trust about it to strengthen your motivation.
This incremental approach allows for a sense of accomplishment and builds momentum over time.
One day at a time: Your resolution should start and end today
Start each day with a mindful reflection on your goals for the day:
- Visualize yourself navigating the day successfully, making choices aligned with your objectives.
- Affirm your commitment to sobriety and well-being.
- Celebrate the victories, no matter how small, as the day progresses.
This allows you to evaluate your progress regularly and make adjustments as needed. Every day is a new opportunity.
Keep yourself busy
An idle mind can sometimes lead to cravings or negative thoughts. Keep yourself occupied with purposeful activities. Consider pursuing hobbies, joining support groups, walking or participating in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment. Plan your day with activities that support your goals. Include time for self-care, relaxation, and engaging in activities that contribute positively to your well-being. Having a structured routine helps to keep you on track.
Vague goals can be challenging to measure and attain. Define your objectives with clarity. For example, if your resolution is to improve your drinking patterns, specify how you plan to achieve that — whether it's through therapy, meditation, or engaging in activities that bring you joy.
The more specific your goals, the easier it becomes to create actionable steps towards them.
Track your progress
Keep a journal or use a tracking app to monitor your progress. Documenting your achievements and setbacks provides valuable insights into your journey and allows you to identify patterns. Reflecting on your growth can boost motivation and reinforce your commitment to a sober lifestyle. Read about how journaling helped our peer worker Oliver* in their recovery journey.
Acknowledge and celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small. Rewards can be powerful motivators, reinforcing positive behavior and encouraging continued progress. Treat yourself to something enjoyable when you reach a milestone, reinforcing the positive changes you're making.
It is crucial to acknowledge that relapses are a common part of the recovery process. If you find yourself facing setbacks, don't be harsh on yourself. Take a moment to explore our blog Keep going: How to move on from relapse. Remember, each day is an opportunity for growth. Your commitment to recovery is a testament to your strength and determination.
Build a support system
Surround yourself with individuals who understand and support your journey. Share your goals with friends, family, or a support group. Having a reliable support system can provide encouragement during challenging times and celebrate your successes along the way.
We’re here to talk about it if you need a sounding board — free, confidential, 24/7.