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The new year is a time when many people self-reflect and plan for the future. New Year’s goals are a common way people motivate themselves to make difficult and rewarding lifestyle changes. Millions of people set New Year’s goals each year. According to Plos One, “For three consecutive years, U.S. polls have reported that 44% of participants have been likely or very likely to make a New Year’s resolution for the coming year.” Meanwhile, West Coast Recovery Centers encourages clients to use New Year’s goals to stay motivated and actively engaged in treatment and recovery

What Are the Benefits of Setting New Year’s Goals?

Not everyone chooses to make their New Year goals public knowledge. However, increased accountability is one of the primary benefits of adopting New Year’s resolutions. People may feel more motivated, inspired, and enthusiastic about focusing on goals when they know others are monitoring their progress. According to the NIH News in Health, “Research suggests that if it’s something you really want for yourself, if it’s meaningful to you, you’re more likely to stick to it.” In other words, setting goals for meaningful changes increases self-confidence and self-efficacy. 

Individuals who adopt New Year’s resolutions often experience the following benefits: 

  • A sense of self-empowerment and increased self-esteem 
  • Community support and encouragement 
  • A newfound sense of control

Letting others know about goals reinforces a person’s commitment and desire to complete them. 

What Are Some Goals for Your Recovery in the New Year?

Everyone has different priorities in their recovery. Some people want to establish and maintain sobriety above all else, while others may be more focused on fixing damaged relationships or overcoming trauma. Regardless of what a person chooses to focus on during recovery, New Year’s resolutions provide an excellent opportunity for making progress on those goals. People in treatment can work with their therapist or other members of their care team to determine what resolutions may provide the best potential outcomes. 

Some popular goals for people in recovery include: 

  • Developing new coping skills 
  • Updating relapse prevention and crisis management strategies
  • Rebuilding or strengthening relationships with loved ones 
  • Maintaining abstinence
  • Improving physical health
  • Reducing or managing symptoms of SUD and co-occurring mental health disorders

Resolutions are often most effective when they are realistic and broken down into easily achievable goals. For example, instead of choosing a goal of “being sober” for the new year, a person can instead choose to “maintain sobriety every month for the next 12 months.” The distinction is the focus on shorter timespans. Some people may feel overwhelmed if they start to think about an entire lifetime of abstinence. However, thinking about it 30 days at a time may feel more obtainable. Although the end result is the same, short-term goals put less pressure on the person going through recovery. 

What Strategies Help People Stay on Track With New Year’s Goals?

Setting a goal for the new year is only helpful if a person sticks with it. Using a strategy to stay motivated helps people accomplish their resolutions. 

Some strategies people use to stay on track with New Year’s goals include: 

  • Getting rewards for achieving all or part of the goal (e.g., buying something nice after going a month without misusing substances)
  • Ensuring goals are realistic, attainable, and have a set timeline 
  • Telling loved ones about the goal to gain accountability and additional support

Everyone has a different approach to setting and achieving goals. A care team can help clients overcome challenges and manage their condition as they work toward their New Year’s resolution. 

How Does a Support System Help People Maintain New Goals?

Goals are easier to accomplish when a person has people supporting and encouraging them. According to the previously mentioned article in Plos One, one research study examined the success of New Year’s resolutions for individuals with no support, some support, and extensive support. As the study discovered, “The group that received some support was exclusively and significantly more successful compared to the other two.” Thus, people who lean on their support system without relying on it to make the changes for them have much better outcomes and are more likely to meet their goals.

What Are Some New Year’s Goals to Avoid?

People in recovery should try not to set unrealistic goals that may negatively impact their recovery. General or vague goals are unrealistic because they may make it too difficult for a person to know if they have succeeded. For example, “improving physical health” is a common goal. However, it is too broad, and people may push themselves to meet unrealistic health standards. Instead, a person can set the goal to “walk for 15 minutes each day and get at least 8 hours of sleep each night.” The changes caused by exercising more and sleeping better will improve overall health. West Coast Recovery Centers helps clients identify unhealthy personal goals and replace them with attainable and realistic alternatives. 

Every year, millions of people adopt New Year’s resolutions to help them achieve specific goals. Individuals in recovery often make resolutions related to their recovery goals, personal relationships, or overall health. Treatment programs help clients stay on track by providing structure and guidance in the new year. The care team can also help clients identify areas in their lives they want to change and assist them in establishing realistic and achievable goals. West Coast Recovery Centers understands everyone has a unique approach to setting and achieving recovery goals. Our team is here to help clients succeed at their New Year’s resolutions. To learn more about our programs and services, call our office today at (760) 492-6509.