Recovery Resolutions, For Real This Time
With the holidays over and the new year upon us once again, many of us will start telling ourselves that this will be the year that everything comes together. We will pull out our notebooks and eagerly write down some resolutions:
- I will write the Great American Novel.
- I will complete a triathlon each day before breakfast.
- I will subsist on a daily diet consisting of a kale leaf and two sniffs of lavender oil.
At the risk of spoiling the plot, once you get past the specifics most lists (whether written by those in recovery or not) will realistically result in something like this:
- I will write some things down that I might do for a week.
- I will blow all of these things off within a month.
- I will spend the rest of the year beating myself up for failing yet again.
This year, why don’t we do something a little different? After all, if you’re in recovery (and since you’re reading this blog, there’s a good chance you are) you’ve already spent quite enough of your life beating yourself up. Let the following be your guide to a list of resolutions you might actually keep.
You’ll see this at the top of pretty much any New Year’s Resolution article ever written. And that’s a good thing because those of us in recovery need to keep hearing it, over and over, until we finally get it. Whether it’s drinking, drugging, or collecting stamps, our modus operandi is “More.” It got us into worlds of trouble when we were out running amok and it will set us up for failure when looking ahead to the new year. Set attainable goals! Moderation is key!
Let some family and friends know what you plan on accomplishing this year. Your goals become much more real when you share them with others, and the support and accountability are invaluable. Extra points if you share them with some of your sober support network. My sober friends are absolutely relentless and masters of the knowing (and guilt-inducing) smirk, and it’s so satisfying to follow through and wipe it off their faces from time to time. Besides, you don’t want to let your sponsor or sponsees down, do you?
Find a New Hobby
It doesn’t have to be something you love – it just has to be something you don’t hate. Something that will hold your attention for a few hours a week. Download an app and start learning a new language. Cross-stitch. Carve soap. Learn how to play the ocarina. Anything to fill some of the time you used to spend boozing or using. More importantly, studies have shown that learning new skills causes brain chemistry to change and makes further learning even easier. Neuroplasticity is truly a beautiful thing.
Meet Some New People
Isolation sits right alongside fear as one of the biggest threats to sobriety, so one of your biggest priorities should be getting out of your house or apartment and among some new people. If you’re a twelve stepper, consider checking out a meeting you’ve never been to before or volunteering at a soup kitchen and being of service. You could also take a class to help learn that new hobby you’ve picked up or join a Meetup group for soap carvers. Or you could bite the bullet and join a gym, which leads us nicely into our next entry.
You knew this one was going to be on the list. Unfortunately, exercise is also one of the first resolutions to be forgotten so it’s important to remember our first directive: set an attainable goal! That doesn’t mean you can’t shoot for the stars and try to run a marathon this year – just make sure to set manageable checkpoints along the way. And if you don’t currently have an exercise regimen, go easy, but go. Start by taking a five-minute walk every day for a week, then go for ten minutes the following week, and so on. Increased overall health, reduced stress, improved mood – there are just too many lasting benefits to ignore this one.
Love Yo Self
At this point I want you to stop reading and get a pen and a piece of paper (I don’t recommend doing this exercise on a computer or mobile device.) I’ve given you five jumpstarts for your resolutions, so with those in mind, go ahead and write out your list now. You can keep it small or go nuts – it’s up to you. I’ll wait. Just come back when you’re finished.
All done? Sweet! Now I want you to take that list and destroy it. With extreme prejudice. Tear it up, burn it, throw darts at it, whatever…just get rid of it. (I bet you’re glad you didn’t use your phone, huh?) Learning something new is awesome. Creating a positive new habit is awesome. However, this new year I want you to know that you’re awesome. From a scientific perspective, you had to overcome long odds just to be here. Your very existence is miraculous. So give yourself a big hug this year! Thank you for being you and I hope to see you in ocarina class.