Keeping Your New Year’s Resolution During Recovery

This year do you want to learn a new language, reconnect with old friends, learn to play the guitar, live a healthier lifestyle, save more money, or volunteer for a charity? There is an abundance of commendable, beneficial New Year’s resolutions to consider.

Unfortunately, making a New Year’s resolution is not typically the issue—the difficulty comes with keeping the resolutions. Setting a new goal can seem like a daunting, unobtainable task while in recovery. Many strategies can help you stay motivated and stick to your resolutions.


Choose Your Resolution Wisely

The first step to keeping your New Year’s resolution is to create the best one for you. Consider resolutions that put both your personal interests and sobriety in the forefront. Although there are a number of admirable goals, it is important not to pile your plate too high and make sure your goals are achievable. If you attempt to accomplish too much at once, you risk the possibility of becoming overwhelmed and giving up.

A good approach is to brainstorm about a list of possible resolutions that can contribute to your sobriety and happiness. Next, pick the resolution that speaks to you the most. This goal should be your top priority as you kick off the New Year. By narrowing your focus on one key resolution, you are more likely to achieve this goal.


Write Your Resolution Down

Once you have confidently selected a New Year’s resolution that will aid in a maintaining a sober lifestyle, you should write it down and keep it somewhere you can easily refer to it. According to a study conducted at Dominican University, those who write goals down on paper are more likely to complete them. It will also help you to make the goal more concrete and contribute to the likelihood of success.

Another astounding study conducted by Harvard University revealed that written goals could lead to successful outcomes. In the study, individuals who physically wrote their goals down made an average of ten times more financially as opposed to those who kept their goals floating around in their minds.

In addition to putting your goal on paper, leave yourself little-written reminders in places you frequently visit throughout the day. These friendly reminders will help to reinforce your resolution and keep it fresh in your mind. The extra boost of motivation during the day will help to make you successful.


Make Your Resolution SMART

In addition to dusting off your journal and writing your goal down, you must ensure that your goal is “SMART.” SMART goals embody key characteristics that aid in increasing the goal’s probability of success.

The “S” stands for “specific,” meaning that your goal must not be vague. For example, instead of creating a resolution to lose weight, make a specific resolution to lose ten pounds by exercising for an hour every day and eliminating processed food from your diet.

The “M” represents a “measurable” resolution meaning that you must establish a way that you can track your progress and success. If your goal is to volunteer for a charity, make your goal measurable by saying you will volunteer for your local animal shelter once a week.

The “A” stands for “attainable.” In this case, attainable means narrowing your goal to something you can reach within your means. If your resolution is to learn a new instrument, think about what instruments you have at your disposal, what you have space for, and what skills you already have that may help with one instrument over another.

The “R” represents “realistic.” During recovery, it is important not to overwhelm yourself with an unobtainable goal. Think realistically about what is possible and recognize that even small steps toward a positive, sober life are good steps.

Lastly, the “T” stands for “time-based.” A time-based resolution is one with time-sensitive benchmarks that help keep you on track. For example, instead of making a resolution to save more money, create a time-sensitive goal to save $1,000 every two months.

By creating SMART goals, you will think about your resolution on a deeper level. This thought process helps you set realistic milestones that will bring you closer to achieving your resolution. Sometimes during recovery, a minuscule molehill can feel like a gargantuan mountain. However, by breaking your resolution down to bite-sized pieces with the SMART goal strategy, you will be able to retain focus and motivation throughout the New Year.


Combat Negativity

Another strategy for sticking to your New Year’s resolution during recovery is having confidence in your commitment to be sober and in your resolution. Temptations and naysayers are bound to cross your path at some point during your life and can lead to self-doubt and hinder your motivation. You can address this by preparing yourself before a negative encounter strikes.

One way to prepare yourself is to compile a list of all of the positivity related to your New Year’s resolution. Ask yourself how your resolution can positively affect your life. You can also try writing about why you chose this specific resolution and how you think your life will be different once you have accomplished it.

By internally rationalizing your goal, you can prepare for real-world experiences with individuals who may doubt your will power and positive life choice.


Stay Positive

One of the best ways to stay on track with your sobriety and New Year’s resolution is to keep yourself focused on positive and meaningful experiences. A large number of addictive substances release a compound called dopamine, which creates a sense of pleasure. This momentary sense of gratification leads to a harmful and long-lasting desire to seek pleasure and fill this need. It is important to replace the ongoing desire with experiences and activities that are authentic and gratifying. Boredom can leave room for temptation so fill your day with positive experiences that leave you with a sense of accomplishment and happiness.

A strategy would be to keep your calendar filled with things you enjoy. If your resolution is to live a more active lifestyle, try exercises that you enjoy such as joining an intramural sports league or a hiking club. If your resolution is to learn a new language, try collaborating with a friend over lunch to practice your skills.

If you or someone you love is having a hard time keeping a resolution of sobriety, Casa Palmera can help. Take the first step towards healing and call 888-481-4481 for more information about Casa Palmera’s treatment programs.


This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of substance use disorders. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional.