New Year’s addiction resolutions: How to tackle goals, thoughts and actions
By John Mouser
Expect a resolution to be challenged
Every year in January, people have goals they want to achieve in mind or better known as “New Years resolutions”. But only a few percent of people actually stay on track the rest of that year. The majority get side tracked, lose strength, or just plain give up.
Do you want to begin a new year with a new life, new energy, new hopes, new, new, new…? What you need to know is that there are certain blockers that make these new resolutions short lived. In fact, every time that you make a new commitment….it will be challenged. But the good news is that you can make lasting positive changes in your life, whether you are still using or drinking, OR in addiction recovery.
I have done this most of my life!
“This year I’m not going to do drugs” – That lasted about a week.
“This year I’m not going to smoke cigarettes” – Not even a week!
“This year I’m not going to drink” – That lasted till Mardi Gras because I lived in Louisiana. I mean come on…
So where is the breakdown? Where did things go wrong?
First thing I know for me is that I had good excuses. I also didn’t have anyone who I knew that was doing the right thing or living a new life. Lastly, I didn’t really care about helping anyone. I was selfish for the majority of my life.
I still swerve on that road from time to time, but I know how to keep it between the lanes now. What did I do right that you can also do?
3 tips for making life changes in the New Year
When you are absolutely tired of the results you are getting you should do something different. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. No one has to talk you into it, bribe you, or force you. You are convinced you are not doing life that way anymore. Right?
Here are 3 very simple ways to have a new life TODAY:
1. Change Your Plan. When we desire change, we need to put a plan together. Lots of times there are loop holes for failure. That way, we aren’t forced to change. We leave ourselves a way out.
Planning is great… but execution is better. A lot of people talk but very few follow through. If you could have done it on your own, you would have done it by now. When I start planning, I put:
- Accountability first!
- Then, evaluation second.
- Then, victory last.
This makes it super hard to hide when I slipped up. My accountability would call me seeing if I was still on the path to success.
Here are some practical examples to give you an idea:
- If you want to quit smoking, tell someone about it! Recruit a non-smoking advocate. Then, you should plan to stop buying cigarettes when you go to the gas station. Also, plan to chew gum when you start “nickin” for nicotine.
- If you want to lower your drinking amount or stop binge drinking, tell someone about it! Then, you should set clear limitations for alcohol moderation. Clearly define for yourself HOW MUCH is too much. Finally, seek medical help if that’s not working for you.
- If you suspect your recreational drug use is getting out of control first talk to your doctor. Or seek help from a trusted friend or family member. Then, research withdrawal and know what symptoms to expect. Finally, check in a detox clinic in your area to make the first step towards recovery.
We tend to leave major room for failure in our planning. No boundaries. No accountability. No victory plan. Change your plan and change your life!
2. Change Your Surroundings. Most people think change is just on the inside. Reality is: change is from the inside out. New life is not kept by living in old environments. What we see, smell, taste, and feel affects our lives positively or negatively. For example, if your goal is not to do drugs then you will definitely need to stop hanging out around the friends that are still comfortable doing drugs.
In another example, if you vow to stop binge drinking you can no longer visit the frat parties or go hang out at the club. Most would say, “Well, I’m not drinking”… and yes, I’ve said this too. But 99% of the people will be drinking in excess. So you would be the 1% without an alcoholic drink in hand. But, eventually, there is a risk that you will cave to the surrounding.
For me, I surrounded myself with a church community. This is the place where I learned about my new life, how to get it and how to keep it. This single decision put me in an environment to thrive, grow, heal, and develop. I began serving at a support group meeting where I would make coffee, set up the chairs, and share my story from time to time. I ended up becoming the leader years later.
3. Change Your Mind. The moment we make our mind up about something is the moment change begins. New life starts in the heart, then the mind, then your body does what your mind and heart tell it to do. Your life is the result of this process.
So, if you want to have a new life, what should your thought processes be like? There is a belief that after 21 days your thoughts or actions become habits. Most of us that have been in an addictive cycle have done bad things over and over again.
My addictions were a direct result of my thought life. I would have a thought to smoke a cigarette, smoke marijuana, take a drink, look at a porn site, etc… then, of course, I would act upon that thought. So, my advice to you is to to stop it at the thought stage.
Don’t let it linger.
Don’t entertain it.
The longer you let a bad thought sit the more power it builds in your mind.
So…let’s get rid of “stinking thinking” and live a new life!
New Year’s resolutions in addiction recovery questions
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