By now, the tinsel and streamers from New Year’s Eve celebrations have been swept away, party attire carefully put back into garment bags and closets, and it’s back to work and time to get serious about recovery goals. Faced with 12 months ahead and a list of resolutions you have no idea how to tackle, what should you do?
Here are 10 tips to help get you going on what you said you wanted to accomplish this year.
Rework Goals Into Realistic Ones
While you probably had very good intentions when putting together your list of goals, the first tip toward getting you actually going on them is to rework them to make sure they’re realistic.This does not mean certain high-effort, long-term goals may not be attainable, but that they may need to be reworded and changed to be more in line with what you can reasonably be expected to achieve.
Break It Up Into Manageable Pieces
Look over your list. There are undoubtedly items on it that may have sounded good when you jotted them down, but now seem decidedly out of reach, at least in the near term. What happens when something takes on insurmountable proportions is that there’s often a tendency to shove those goals to the background where they may languish and never get attended to.
The trick to making headway on these types of goals is to study them and find a way to break them up into smaller and more manageable pieces. Instead of trying to accomplish the entire goal at once, allow yourself incremental steps to get there. It doesn’t matter if the goal seems to be able to be divided this way or not. Just the practice of analyzing it and looking for different approaches will prove to be instructive. If nothing else, it gives you the opportunity to say that you’ve put some effort into the goal, made some decisions about it, and will return to it again, depending on the steps you’ve allocated following your analysis.
Begin With One Small Goal
You know you have to begin somewhere. The question is, which goal should you tackle first? Recovery experts and time management professionals alike advise taking action on one small goal to begin with, rather than scattering your energy and focus all over the place.
Just as you can’t complete the building of a house in one day, you can’t expect to finalize everything about a certain goal all at once. Granted, it may be doable in a single setting or try or during one day, but if it is not, don’t be discouraged. Allow sufficient time for the project or task to proceed and make note of whatever stumbling blocks or hurdles you encounter along the way. By managing reasonable expectations about completion time, you’ll be less stressed over when you’ll be done and better able to focus on taking action now.
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Since everyone makes New Year’s resolutions of one sort or another, you’re in good company. When what you’ve decided upon starts to weigh you down, look for support from others in the recovery community whose opinion you trust. This is often your 12-step sponsor and certain group members who have become friends. It also includes your loved ones and family members who support your recovery. What they have to say could greatly impact your motivation to get started on your list.
Recognize that everyone has challenges. It isn’t the enormity of the task or project or goal that we face that stands in our way, but our willingness to do what it takes to begin work on it. As long as we are willing to seek advice and support from others, we are doing ourselves a great service.
Run Into a Hurdle? Don’t Give Up
The quickest way to ditch your list of resolutions is to get hung up on a failure to complete one of them. It could be that you’ve taken on the most difficult resolution on your list and approached it too hurriedly. After it doesn’t work out the way you intended, you tend to beat yourself up and think that the rest of the items on your list aren’t worth your time and effort.
Don’t allow a temporary hurdle to deter you from making headway on your resolutions. Maybe put work on this particular goal aside and focus on one that is more likely to meet with success. Keep in mind that one failure to succeed doesn’t mean failure. It only means that you will need to address this issue a different way, take more time to do it, gather more resources, or some combination of these. Learn from everything you do, whether it results in immediate accomplishment or not.
Track Your Progress
Naturally, you want to see that your efforts are making a dent in your resolutions list. The best way to accomplish this is to keep track of what you’ve been doing that works, as well as what hasn’t worked out so well or not at all. The reason for this is that there’s a lot to be learned from mistakes, just as there is from successes.
Know That Change Is an Ongoing Process
While it is easy to become discouraged when your goals are not immediately realized, avoid the temptation to give up on your efforts just because you’ve encountered difficulties. When you are attempting to change patterns of behavior, you have to recognize that it takes time. Change in recovery is an ongoing process, not a race that you have to finish right now. Give yourself time. Be kind to yourself.
Reminders Are Key
From time to time, take a moment to remind yourself why it is that you put together this list of New Year’s resolutions. The reasons will help you regain your momentum and serve as a way of renewing your enthusiasm. Think of what you will be gaining when you accomplish your goal and surround yourself with sources of inspiration to help keep the enthusiasm front and center.
If you dread looking at your list of resolutions because it makes you think about how difficult certain ones are, maybe the tip that will work best for you is to think of ways to make the goal fun. It could be that working on a particular goal with a friend will help in this regard, or tackling it with a group of people with a similar goal. If a certain time of day or a particular day during the week is when you are more motivated to work on resolutions, set aside that day and plan for it like you’re getting ready for a celebration. The more you can attach positive attributes to a task, the more likely you are to keep working on it.