Before the start of each new year, we review the past twelve months in full, pondering our general progress as human beings and critically looking at areas that require immediate improvement. We formulate an idealistic list, full of bad habits we wish to entirely abandon and good habits we hope to simultaneously adopt. It has been estimated that upwards of 40 percent of American citizens make a list of personal resolutions, viewing the new year as a fresh start – a chance to change for the better. Yet despite the fact that millions of men and women make these resolutions, upwards of 60 percent fail to stick closely to any of them for more than a week or two (according to research conducted by The University of Scranton). This exceedingly high failure rate could be attributed to a number of things – perhaps people are setting their expectations too high. Perhaps, while intentions are surely good, discipline lacks and motivation soon wanes. Perhaps we still anticipate that we will be able to undergo significant and lasting changes overnight, failing to acknowledge the fact that all long-term deviations take ample tie to set in motion.
Sobriety and Setting Personal Goals
As recovering addicts and alcoholics, we are all too familiar with the feeling of setting a personal goal with conviction, only to fall back into our old ways in a short matter or days (or hours). We vow to lay off the hard stuff and stick to beer and wine, only to accept a well drink as soon as one is pushed our way. We vow to keep a job for longer than a month, only to call in sick for the fourth time in a week, trading a ruinous hangover for a paycheck yet again. We vow to stop hurting and lying to our loved ones, only to steal from our mother’s purse as soon as the sickness gets bad enough. Surely there must be a way for us to set personal goals and stick to them. Of course, sobriety is a great start. Once we make a firm decision to completely change our way of life, we are well on our way. Yet just as faith without works is dead, a decision without action is merely a good intention. If you are not yet sober, but have been considering sobriety as a potential resolution for the year ahead, take a look at these related benefits.
Recovery and Resolutions
By overcoming your addiction and entering into a life of recovery, you will allow yourself the opportunity to:
- Begin making decisions that you feel good about.
Fortunately, it is never too late to begin making better choices. We have all made mistakes; the key is leaving them in the past and moving forward with honesty and integrity. Forgive yourself for past mistakes, resolve to live differently, and focus your attention on changing long-standing, detrimental habits.
- Begin saving money for your future.
Think of all of the money that you have been spending on drugs and alcohol. Rather than continuously throwing that money away (even worse, putting it towards a shorter, more miserable life), think of investing that money in a better, brighter future for yourself and your loved ones. This might mean attending addiction treatment. Though it may seem to be quite an expenditure, this investment will surely save you immense amounts in the long run. And remember – no price can truly be put on clarity, purpose, and authentic freedom.
- Repair your interpersonal relationships.
While we may believe that we have been hurting no one but ourselves, our friends and family members have likely been suffering enormously at the hands of our addiction. By committing to a life of sobriety, we will finally be able to give our relationships the attention and care they deserve. It can be difficult to maintain relationships, even in sobriety – but forming authentic bonds with other human beings is truly what makes life worth living.
- Find clarity and purpose.
When we are actively engaged in our addictive lifestyles, our ability to focus on anything else is entirely compromised. We lose our sense of purpose amidst the mental obsession; the compulsion to obtain and use and use and use. When we regain mental clarity, we are able to begin living with intention. We are gifted the beautiful opportunity to explore potential hobbies, discovering what makes us tick and what gives our lives meaning.
- Face and overcome your personal demons.
Many of us initially turn to drugs and alcohol as a means of coping with unresolved trauma, undiagnosed mental disorders such as depression or anxiety, or crippling insecurities that have tortured us since childhood. Regardless of what plagues us as individuals, we will not be able to successfully live a life of purpose and meaning until we tackle our demons head-on. Sobriety allows us the opportunity to get to know ourselves on a level we never have. In getting to know ourselves, we begin to discover what troubles us, and we are finally able to resolve the very issues that have burdened us for years.
A Newfound Ability to Follow Through
If you are already sober, and have been for any prolonged period of time, you are well on your way to setting and sticking to a set of realistic and attainable resolutions. One of the coolest things about sobriety is our newfound ability to follow through with personal goals. Of course, it is imperative that we are kind to ourselves, and show ourselves both patience and forgiveness. In formulating resolutions, it is wise to set realistic time frames. For example, if we want to take up yoga, it would be unrealistic to expect that we immediately find a studio we like and straightaway find a spare hour or two every day to dedicate to our practice. A more realistic resolution would be, “Take one yoga class every week for a month.” Rather than, “Quit smoking,” we can say, “Smoke less and less, and eventually wean down to a pack a week – and in time, quit entirely.”
Look at the start of a new year as a golden opportunity to make positive personal changes, but keep in mind the fact that recovery is truly ‘one day at a time’, and that we can re-start our resolutions at any given moment. Whether you are considering entering into a life of recovery, or you are merely looking for ways to keep yourself in a state of steady progress and personal balance, resolutions are an ideal way to set the ball rolling.
Have a safe, sober, and serene New Year, and remember – recovery is a daily reprieve!