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5 Tips for Making New Year’s Resolutions in Recovery


The end of the year is quickly drawing to a close and the new year will be here before you know it. This is the time when many people start reflecting on the past year and what they want to do differently moving forward. While most people start out with gusto, it’s estimated that less than 10 percent of people actually achieve the goals they set for themselves. It’s not that people don’t have good intentions, but 12 months is a long time and life gets busy.

New Year’s resolutions can be both positive and negative in recovery. On one hand, it helps you to set your sights on your goals and gives you motivation to achieve them. You’re starting off fresh with a brand new year ahead of you, not marred by the past. On the other hand, the pressure to succeed can be overwhelming. If you fall short of your goals or veer off track, it can take a toll on your recovery. You may start feeling defeated or be hard on yourself for not succeeding. This can alter how you view your progress in sobriety.

Should you make resolutions if you’re in recovery?

There is no right or wrong answer here, as it depends on you and your situation. Some people in recovery do very well with resolutions and making necessary changes to achieve them. They are able to stay on track and use these goals as motivators, not letting small setbacks deter their progress.

For others, it’s not the right choice. It’s better to continue focusing on their recovery one day at a time and going at their own speed. Setting lofty long-term goals can make them feel more pressured and anxious. If you know you’re the type of person who is easily discouraged or disappointed when things don’t work out as planned, stick with your own recovery plan and focus on your progress instead of getting wrapped up in the hype of the new year and adding new expectations.

Tips for Making Resolutions

If you do decide to try out some resolutions this year, here are a few tips for getting started:

  1. Make your resolutions for you. Your goals should be things that you want to achieve for your own growth and improvement, not for anyone else. Don’t set a goal because you think it will make your spouse or your friend happy. You’re more likely to follow through if it holds personal meaning and is something you want.
  2. Be realistic. You may want to lose 50 pounds this year or pay off your debt, but how likely is that to actually happen? When you set your sights too high right off the bat, it can make not living up to these self-imposed expectations even more upsetting. Start off with smaller more achievable goals and work your way up. Remember that your resolutions are not set in stone – they should be flexible and adjustable. Set shorter-term goals that lead up to larger accomplishments. Breaking things down can also make them more manageable. More realistic targets could be going to the gym three days a week, or putting aside $100 from each paycheck to put toward your credit card.
  3. Set measurable goals. Not only does this help you to monitor your progress, it can put things into perspective. Decide that you’re going to attend support group meetings two days a week, or spend 30 minutes walking every day. These are things that you can plan into your schedule and check off each time they’re completed. But if you realize that putting aside $100 won’t work because your spouse got laid off, adjust it to something more manageable. On the other hand, if you get a raise, maybe you can allocate a little more toward your debt. Set goals to push yourself a bit, but not to the point where you’re becoming frustrated or it’s unmanageable.
  4. Celebrate small successes. A year is a long time to wait to reward yourself for a job well done. Though you’ll feel the benefits of positive changes throughout the year, provide yourself with some extra motivation by celebrating small achievements too. Did you attend every support group meeting this month or stick to your goal to try a new activity for two weeks? Treat yourself to a relaxing bubble bath and a new book or a round of golf with friends. Reward yourself with something meaningful to you to stay inspired and motivated.
  5. Forget about perfection. You don’t have to be perfect to be successful. Just because you missed a day or two at the gym or worked late when you said you wouldn’t doesn’t mean you failed. Don’t let that deter you from continuing to follow through with your resolution. You can still get back on track and continue making positive progress. Use setbacks as learning experiences and adjust your goals accordingly. Keep in mind that your goals are for your own benefit, so don’t worry about what others think or spend your time trying to compare yourself. Do what works for you.

If you decide to make New Year’s resolutions this year, make them a complementary part of your recovery plan, not an additional stressor. If you don’t want added pressure, you don’t have to make any resolutions. Your continued progress in recovery is already a step in the right direction for the New Year, so keep up the hard work. Chapters Capistrano can help you stay on track with seven- and 14-day detox programs and relapse prevention planning. Start your recovery journey by contacting Chapters Capistrano at 949-371-4198 and find out how you can benefit from our luxury drug and alcohol rehab this year.