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Recovery Resolutions 2017.
January 18, 2017

One Recovery Resolution That’s Easier to Keep

Recovery Resolutions 2017.If you need proof that sticking with a plan of recovery is a big achievement, here it is: just eight percent of the nearly half of all Americans who usually make New Year’s resolutions actually achieve their goal, according to research at the University of Scranton.

Recovery resolutions can be similarly hard to keep, if not more so — especially for those in early sobriety. When what you’ve most wanted or craved in the past has only hurt or almost killed you, it is not uncommon to experience some hesitation and even paralysis regarding new situations that involve a choice, whether big or small. Choosing what’s good for you can seem so foreign.

But healthy choices are central to the success of any New Year’s resolution. Whether it’s losing weight, getting more organized, finding love, or avoiding drug or alcohol relapse in 2017, achieving a New Year’s resolution requires the capacity to choose what’s good for you. Thankfully that’s also a learned skill, one that is now easier to master with the help of the following tips and guidelines:

  • Put some space between a thought and action or behavior. Thoughtful decisions will be better for you than impulsive ones. A good rule of thumb here is to check in with yourself when you face a situation that requires a choice. If you’re feeling compelled to act in a certain way, that in itself can be a warning sign signaling you need a bit more time and space before acting. Most situations are not so urgent that they require an immediate decision, even if your thoughts and feelings tell you so in the moment. The compulsion to respond in a certain way will pass. The trick is to wait, if possible, until the compulsion subsides, by doing something else that you know is good for you. A bit of time and space between the thought and action or behavior will result in a more thoughtful decision that inevitably will be better for you.          
  • Say it out loud to yourself. Sometimes indecisiveness regarding what’s good for you in a particular situation is the result of getting stuck in one’s head and over-thinking and rationalizing a particular choice. If you’re having trouble choosing between happy hour with colleagues and a weekly 12-step meeting, for example, saying the options aloud, including the consequences, can help you deal more honestly and concretely with your circumstances.
  • Play the tape through. If you are unsure whether one course of action will be better for you than another, try to fast forward to the consequences of a particular decision. Ask yourself how your decision will play out. If, in the above example, you choose happy hour over your weekly 12-step meeting, what will be the likely outcome of that choice? Playing the tape through until the end can help you arrive at an answer.
  • Get the feedback of someone you respect. Sometimes a particular choice may genuinely have you stumped. In these cases, it’s never unwise to run the dilemma by someone you trust whom you respect and admire. That may be a sponsor in your 12-step group or a close friend who you know has your best in mind.
  • When possible, break big choices down into smaller choices. Big, life-changing choices are hard to make for anyone. When you can, try to break these down into smaller parts. Say, for example, that you’re considering a career change, but you’re not sure if it would be good for your recovery. Instead of quitting your job and jumping straight into the new occupation, give yourself smaller opportunities to try on the new career for size and see how it feels to your recovery.

In the end, like any big resolution that is good for you, recovery is also the sum of its smaller parts. Even the seemingly smallest decisions are either a step towards recovery or a step towards relapse. With just a little practice, the above principles can ensure you’re headed in the direction of recovery in 2017.