We hear it all the time. New Year, New You. The attempt at resolutions that often lasts until the clock strikes midnight on January 2nd. This year, I challenge you to put those resolutions aside and create a new narrative for yourself that will help you achieve meaningful change. Whether you are in recovery or just looking for ways to improve your wellness, here are six steps you can take to work towards a tangible outcome.
1) Clarify Your Goals
Identify what you want to change in your life and be clear about the rationale. For example, do you envision your life without alcohol or drugs? Is your career, family, romantic relationship or geographic location holding you back from personal growth? Visualizing your goals can empower you to take the first step towards change.
2) Assess Your Overall Wellness
To be the strongest version of yourself, you must take inventory of all the different facets of your wellness. Have you been feeling more depressed, anxious or stressed than usual? Do you spend an excessive amount of time on your device? Are you sleeping enough? Are you able to eat mindfully or do you tend to overeat or cope in ways that you would prefer to change? How much do you prioritize your self-care – such as taking time to exercise, engage in activities you enjoy and socialize with those who love and support you unconditionally? Taking inventory of your approach to balance and wellness in important and will be vital in achieving behavior change.
3) Acknowledge the Barriers and Learn How to Move Past Them
Many of us have busy lives – juggling family, career and other everyday issues. At Caron, we talk about the people, places and things that may interfere with self-care and treatment and how to take steps to address them, so they don’t become obstacles to success. For example, many professionals believe they will negatively impact their career if they take a leave of absence to treat their substance use disorder in a residential setting. However, we help them to understand that in the long-term, achieving recovery will benefit their career and their personal lives. We encourage you to seek support to identify and remove barriers to your goals.
4) Keep Asking for Help
You may need to reach out to more than one person or organization to find the best approach to support your goals. It’s understandable if you feel frustrated by this process, but it’s also important to keep trying. It may help to enlist a friend or family member to be your cheerleader or even make calls on your behalf if time is an issue. The good news is that there are many resources that can help with a range of behavioral issues and therapists who specialize in areas that can support your specific needs.
5) Involve Loved Ones
If you’re feeling paralyzed by your concerns, you may tend to isolate. However, I can’t emphasize enough that social support is paramount in achieving life goals. Whether it’s a family member, close friend or support group – surrounding yourself with those who care for you will make a difference in your ability to move forward. In the case of addiction, for example, we always advocate for the participation of families and/or close loved ones in the treatment and recovery process. In fact, we have programs specifically set up to educate and support loved ones who have been affected by the disease of addiction. Behavioral experts can help you determine where to set boundaries and who comprises the healthiest circle of support.
6) Create Strategies to Hold Yourself Accountable
How will you hold yourself accountable? I always recommend a plan to help you set measurable and objective mini-goals, reward yourself in healthy ways for achieving those goals and include steps to take if your approach isn’t working. Depending on your desired outcome, I highly encourage designating a therapist, friend, family member or co-worker as a dedicated accountability partner. It’s important to select someone who is respectful of you, clearly understands your goals and who can challenge you to persist with the hard work necessary to achieve success. You should determine in advance and communicate directly how often you’re going to check in with your partner and how they can best support you.
If you’re looking to make a change – big or small – that you believe will positively impact your life, I encourage you to start right away. The more you hesitate, the more likely you are to shelve your goals for another year. Most importantly, be kind to yourself and don’t beat yourself up if the process is slow or if you have set-backs and need to regroup. I encourage you to have hope and faith that you can achieve a life beyond your wildest dreams.
By Sara Counes