Every January, millions of people decide that this is going to be the year they lose weight, get in shape, stop drinking, get their career on track, learn another language, or make some other major positive life change. The vast majority of these people start working on these projects with great enthusiasm. Come February, however, they have often given up. Below are some tips to support you in actually following through with your new year’s resolutions this year.
Pick One Thing
Don’t try to make a million changes all at once. Making one significant change is difficult enough. Trying to change several things at once only compromises your top priority and creates overwhelm. Pick one goal that will significantly improve your life and focus on that. Often, that single positive change will result in a ripple effect of bonus changes. Consider an example in which you’ve decided that the one thing you’re going to do this year is to stop drinking. You will likely find that you also lose weight and save more money, even though you’re not really trying to do those things. These are called keystone habits. Other keystone habits that can begin as a result of this initial behavior change include exercising more, getting proper sleep, and taking up hobbies like reading.
Make a Plan
Change doesn’t just happen. Planning and committing to new action are imperative steps towards effecting sustainable change. Deciding you’re going to quit drinking and/or using drugs while continuing to engage in the same thought and behavior patterns will get you nowhere. Decide on some concrete steps towards change, even if those steps only involve gathering more information. You may choose to read some books on addiction and talk to a therapist about your drinking and/or using. Set deadlines to follow through on your initial steps. For example, you might decide you’re going to read two books about addiction by the end of the month. Add your deadlines to your calendar and set alerts for greater accountability.
One big reason people stumble with their new year’s resolutions is that they don’t plan for setbacks. Everything worthwhile has challenges. When you make your resolution, take time to think about the things that will likely stand in your way and create an action plan for dealing with them. Maybe you know that you have a really hard time turning down drinks when you are with certain friends. Decide how you plan to deal with issues like these ahead of time.
Hold Yourself Accountable
Find a way to hold yourself accountable for your resolutions. One good way is to recruit someone to work towards a common goal with you. This facilitates support, provides accountability, and fosters a healthy dose of competition in the resolution process. When motivation decreases, having an accountability buddy can really help keep you going. Support is also available by joining various groups. Exercise classes, sports teams, and support groups are great examples. If you’re trying to quit drinking, consider attending 12-step meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
Change is never easy. This is even truer if you’re trying to change your substance use patterns. Sometimes you need more than determination and a plan. Sometimes you need a change of environment and a whole support team to get you heading in the right direction. Tree House Recovery of Portland, Oregon helps men find connection and purpose. If you want this to be the year you finally break free from addiction, call us today at (503) 850-2474