New Year’s Resolutions
Fair warning, this blog is a repeat from last year, but I think it has some great points that still apply!
With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season in full swing, and the New Year quickly approaching, I challenge you to think about the New Year’s Resolutions you will set for this coming year, as well as those you have made in the past. Have you been able to achieve them? Maintain them? My personal answer to that questions is, “well no, not really.”
That answer shows me two things, the first being that I set myself up for failure every year by making lofty, often unachievable resolutions. Something that our patients learn about in treatment is the importance of setting attainable goals with reasonable time periods. 12-step programs operate on a “one day at a time” philosophy for this very reason. I repeatedly hear people in recovery report that they need to take life one hour, or even one minute, at a time. It is impossible to know where you will be or what you will be doing in a year. Hopefully you will be working a recovery program and helping others with their journey through recovery, but only your higher power knows where your path will lead you. So this year, set goals that are realistic and attainable. Instead of year-long resolutions, it may help to make a list of goals after your morning prayer each day and review the list before your evening prayer. This allows you to feel accomplished every day when you are able to mark things off.
The second thing that my “failure” to meet my resolutions shows me is that my definition of success is too limited. Traditionally, New Year’s Resolutions are structured to be black and white. You fail or you succeed - no middle ground. This is a difficult line to walk, especially in the world of recovery. In fact, I believe that this mindset only sets people up for failure. One of the wisest things I have heard through treatment and AA is that our biggest struggles lead us to our biggest successes. However, we can only allow this to happen if we do not dwell on the bumps in the road that we have attempted to pave. In other words, minor failures or difficulties can actually lead to major gains. I love the message portrayed by the phrase “we make plans and God laughs.” As I mentioned earlier, only our higher power knows what path we must take to find health and success. Instead of setting lofty Resolutions this year and punishing ourselves for failures, what if we set a goal of listening to our higher power and following his/her/it’s will, instead of our own. This is a goal that can be taken one day at a time. And if we “fail” at listening one day, there is always the next day to try again.
In summary, it is healthy to set goals for ourselves, but it is important to keep them simple and make them attainable. Furthermore, it is essential to listen to our higher power’s will and allow that to direct our goals as we prepare as best we can for all that is to come in 2016.