There’s nothing like the start of a new year to give us the nudge we need to finally become who we want to be. For recovering addicts, there’s one glaring resolution that may be an obvious one to make, but is a monumental goal that requires more than an extra boost of motivation that will probably fade by February (sorry resolutioners, studies have proven it). Don’t leave your recovery up to chance, here are 7 simple-but-effective ideas for sticking to your New Year’s resolution to stay sober.
1. Set specific goals in achievable chunks
Staying sober is a simple resolution to set, but it’s certainly no small task. When trying to tackle a lofty goal like this, it’s best to break it up into smaller steps that actually outline how you can make it happen. Some examples are to avoid the beer and wine aisle at the grocery store or leaving your ID in the car (so that you legally can’t purchase it), avoiding restaurants that offer drinks on happy hours, or getting rid of your alcohol paraphernalia. Breaking your ultimate goal into smaller chunks can make it seem much more achievable, but perhaps more importantly, will get you thinking about actionable steps that create a pathway to success.
2. Announce your intentions to the world
Studies have shown that sharing your goals with others makes you more likely to follow through. By publicizing your intentions, you invite others to help hold yourself accountable and also to offer encouragement and praise—another powerful motivator. Having a sense of community and social support, whether it’s people rooting for you or whom you don’t want to disappoint, will remind you that you’re not alone in your endeavor.
3. Turn healthy habits into a competition with friends
A little healthy competition is always a good thing, especially if you use it to propel yourself into making healthy habits. Challenge a group of friends to non-sobriety-related goals like who hits their hydration goals first, has the most steps in a day, or does the most workouts during a week. By focusing on the foundations of an overall healthy lifestyle, you are even less likely to revert back to your old ways. Since participants don’t have to be someone within the recovery community, you have a wider pool of people to compete with. Fitness trackers like Fitbit and Apple Watch allow for competitions between peers, and health-based social sites like MyFitnessPal make it easy to share such information.
4. Pre-plan celebrations for your sobriety milestones
In January, the idea of staying sober through all the months, and their respective holidays can seem daunting. But having fun things to look forward to in your calendar is a great way of maintaining motivation. If you don’t have anything to RSVP to just yet, create your own events that do double duty of promoting your resolution to stay sober. Mark the dates of when you’d hit meaningful sobriety milestones and actually plan out how you would celebrate your accomplishment. Think about the kind of food you’d serve, what you’d do for entertainment, the people you’d want to attend, and even what the invitations would say. Visualizing what your success looks like will keep you on track to making sure it comes to fruition.
5. Sign up for a 5K
Keeping yourself on track for the long-haul means having future goals that require you to follow through. In this case, a 5K requires a certain level of physical fitness—something you would likely be unable (or unwilling) to do if you were no longer sober. These races are very customizable and can be done no matter your preferences (group or private setting, indoors or outdoors, walking or running) making it easy to get in on the fun. Bonus: many come with badges or certificates, offering a visual representation of your accomplishments. Find a 5K near you here.
6. Journal every day
One of the simplest ways to keep yourself mindful of your goal is to journal. You can do this via traditional pen and paper or go a more modern route with a video diary. Regardless of how you choose to document your day-to-day, journaling is has a lot of benefits. Doing so encourages you to reflect on your experiences which gives you an opportunity to assess how you feel—whether good or bad. Your previous entries will allow you to look back and relive your triumphs and can provide valuable insight into your mindset after certain setbacks or recognizing correlations between your mood and certain events.
7. Accept that you may falter
Addiction recovery is an ongoing journey that never truly ends and demanding perfection from yourself will only lead to disappointment. No matter what fail-safes, accountability partners, or checklists you enlist on your journey, relapses are a very real part of the recovery process. The most important part of sticking to your New Year’s resolutions as an addict is to accept the possibility that you may experience setbacks. Staying sober isn’t about never faltering, but about trying again over and over, each time it happens. If all else fails, turn to an addiction treatment facility for professional assistance sticking to your resolution to stay sober.