New Year’s resolutions meant to improve physical or mental health are nothing new. But for people recovering from substance use disorder (SUD), resolutions can often have a different dimension to them. In some cases, they are seen as a serious way to help tackle a real problem.
New Year’s resolutions are now more or less a quaint tradition, with few people expecting them to be anything serious. The fact that about 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail seems to be evidence of how little value making a resolution is for most people.
But what sets apart the 20% of resolutions that do succeed? Chances are, it’s because knowingly or unknowingly, the resolution makers used an approach similar to what’s found in SMART.
SMART is an approach to project management and personal development that was described in the early 1980s, though was likely used in practice in different forms for millennia. SMART is a mnemonic that stands for specific, measurable, assignable, realistic, and time-bound, with dozens of different variations.
The idea is that anything difficult that you want to commit to should be within the bounds of the SMART framework. For instance, if you’re recovering from an SUD and are still in early recovery, rather than committing to abstinence, this could mean that you will focus on a specific habit that aids SUD recovery, as this is more realistic. To make it specific and measurable, the goal could be something like exercising 20 minutes a day. To make it time-bound, you can resolve to do this 4 times a week for the whole year.
When it comes to resolutions related to improvements in mental health, the SMART model can often be very useful, precisely because it can help offset some of the cognitive and behavioral handicaps recovering individuals may face.
Nobody’s perfect. If you were already perfect, you wouldn’t be interested in recovery in the first place. Additionally, if you’re recovering from an SUD, you will be facing an uphill struggle as you buy time for your brain to rewire and heal.
This means you should be ready for things to not go exactly as you planned. If you have a goal of meditating for 10 minutes a day, you shouldn’t feel too discouraged if you miss a few days at first. In the grand scheme of things, the important thing is that you can meditate most days, with daily meditation being the ideal that you’re aiming for.
The same thing holds true with other aspects of wellness, like meeting your therapist or attending group sessions. There will eventually be instances where even seemingly modest goals are impossible to hit. However, these setbacks shouldn’t keep you from being consistent and continuing with what’s necessary.
Maintaining your motivation is important for achieving any long-term goal. For this reason, it’s usually a good thing to reward yourself when you hit an important milestone.
However, you don’t want to reward yourself in a way that goes against what you’re trying to achieve. If you’ve made a resolution to abstain from drugs and alcohol, it’s illogical to “reward” yourself by consuming drugs or knocking back a beer. Instead, you should look at other kinds of rewards, like treating yourself to a movie or a brand new pair of shoes.
It’s tougher to stay the course if you don’t feel accountable to anyone but yourself. One strategy many people who have recovered from SUD have used is to make themselves accountable to recovery buddies. These partners can come from group therapy sessions or can be anyone who is also attempting to tackle a difficult goal or resolution.
By harnessing the power of relationships, you can better overcome the temptation to take the easy way out when it comes to your goals. It can also increase the satisfaction that we get from success, which further reinforces the positive behaviors we want to develop.
If you’re in the North Texas area, Dallas Drug Treatment Centers is your best resource for finding rehab and treatment programs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Call our team at +1(214) 935-2287 to discuss your options and get access to personalized treatment approaches.