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How to Keep Those New Year’s (or any) Resolutions


Some interesting facts about New Year’s Resolutions:


  • 50% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions

  • 22% fail after the first week

  • 40% fail after one month

  • 50% fail after three months

  • 60% fail after six months

  • Only approximately 8% of New Year’s resolutions are kept beyond 24 months


One might ask if the success seems so daunting, why bother making New Year’s resolutions at all? The truth is, New Year’s is just another day, and making resolutions is just setting a goal. Those in recovery from substance abuse issues or with mental health problems know that goal setting is essential for wellness. However, setting goals is not a year-to-year process, but a day-to-day process. When facing mental health or addiction issues, it is important to approach wellness from the perspective of “one day at a time”.


Setting goals helps people to see if they are making progress or moving forward in the healing process. It also keeps them from aimlessly hoping for recovery, and instead gives people something specific to work toward. Setting specific goals helps people to take accountability for their own part in achieving their goals.


The first step in goal setting is asking yourself, “What do I want my life to look like?” The second step is asking, “How do I make those changes happen?” It is important to write your goals down and put them somewhere where you can easily see them. If they are regularly visible, they can act as a reminder to keep working toward your goals.


Another useful goal setting tool is to find someone to keep you accountable. Look for someone who is not afraid to confront you or nag you as needed. Setting and achieving goals can increase self-esteem, and increase and maintain motivation. It allows people to challenge themselves, which is when, as research shows, the most growth occurs.


Finally, make sure the goals you set are SMART. That is, make sure your goals are:










Resolution Ideas to Enhance the Recovery Process

  • Read an inspirational book. Begin 2016 by building an inspirational reading list and resolve to read one a month. Inspirational reading can be the core of possibility, creativity, and action all building blocks of recovery.

  • Reach out to others with encouragement. Use a motivational quote or an affirming statement to add positivity to another’s day. Helping others comes back ten-fold!

  • Make some form of exercise a part of your life. Exercise is good for a healthy body and mind and has been shown to reduce urges to use.

  • Show gratitude daily. Begin and end your day with a thank-you. Studies have shown that beginning your day with thank-you sets the tone for a more positive day and ending your day with a thank-you enhances sleep.

  • Journal, set aside ten minutes a day to write your thoughts. Write the good and the bad, releasing your feelings into the page. You will be able to look back over what you have written and see your progress and recognize the dangers you encounter each day.

  • Start doing something new. When we stop feeding our addiction or compulsions, we are often left with an empty space to fill. Find something you enjoy just a little out of your comfort zone and get involved.

  • Affirm yourself, write and repeat three positive statements about yourself every day. Begin the statement with “I am….”

  • Change your routine, paint your room a new color, change your furniture around, make small changes in your daily life indicating the desire to make permanent long-term changes.

  • Participate in a 12-Step program or support group giving yourself an opportunity to make new friends that understand where you are and what you are experiencing.

  • Start meditating daily. Meditation has been shown to help with anger, stress, anxiety, depression, and so many other issues. It has also been shown to improve sleep, digestion, and boost the immune system. There are many different resources available online, in books, on DVD, and through workshops/classes.



Written by Sara Mackey, LAC; Paula Alexander, LAC. Edited by Gagandeep Singh, MD (Owner, Center For Wellness)




Alcoholrehab.com (2008). Goal setting for recovery. Retrieved from http://alcoholrehab.com/addiction-recovery/goal-setting-for-recovery/


Chandler, N. (2009). The secret to keeping the new year’s resolutions. Retrieved from http://www.imaginehopecounseling.com/fullarticles.php?ID=22


Elements Behavioral Health (2015). Importance of setting goals in recovery from mental illness and substance abuse. Retrieved from https://www.elementsbehavioralhealth.com/recovery/importance-of-setting-goals-in-recovery-from-mental-illness-and-substance-abuse/


Ivey, A. E., D’Andrea, M. J., & Ivey, M. B. (2012). Theories of counseling and psychotherapy: A multicultural perspective (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.


Kabat-Zinn J. Mindfulness-based interventions in context: Past, present, and future. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice. 2003;10:144–156.


University of Virginia (n.d.). Writing S.M.A.R.T. goals. Retrieved from http://www.hr.virginia.edu/uploads/documents/media/Writing_SMART_Goals.pdf


WilStar (2013). New year’s day 2016. Retrieved from http://wilstar.com/holidays/newyear.htm


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