Doing the right thing and expecting the same results is the principle behind my Sobriety Resolutions for 2016. I closed out the year sober and realized I needed to take steps to help ensure I will end this year clean. My thinking is that if I do what worked to stay clean I will get similar results. This is not the traditional “resolutions” that didn’t work for me in the past. I gave up on setting New Year’s goals years ago because I finally accepted that I was setting myself up for failure and disappointment.
I really have only one resolution and that is to stay sober 24-hours a day. My sobriety resolutions are my prescription plan for making it happen. The plan is based on the actions I took last year that worked. I realize that even if I accomplish my goals there is no guarantee I will not relapse. But by writing them down, I have a plan that increases the chances of staying sober.
Here are the things I plan to do to support my sobriety:
Self-care first—Making sure I do the basics is a given; but can’t be taken for granted. My goal is to focus each day on eating a balanced meal, drinking the recommended amount of water, meditating in the morning and following my daily exercise regimen. Failure to follow through with these goals will impact everything else I plan to do and would be an indication that I’m in relapse, not recovery. These are the most important steps in my plan.
Staying connected, avoid isolation—I can attest to the fact that addiction is a lonely, isolating condition. This is why I’m committed to continued attendance at my regular AA home-group three times a week if not more, staying in touch with my sponsor and connecting with the supportive addicts I’ve met in my recovery. To widen my sphere of support, I’m letting more family members and friends know I am in recovery so they can support me and be that ‘eye-out’ if they see me beginning to slide. I’ve learned that people who care will support me if they know I’m serious about staying clean and improving my life.
Practice gratitude, celebrate successes— This is probably the one I really need to work on to make it happen. Like most people in recovery, I have a tendency to beat myself up over things that didn’t go as planned. If I spend time going over and over what I didn’t do it prevents me from doing the right thing the next day. I have a list of things I’m thankful for and put it on my phone so I can read it anytime, anywhere. At night before giving thanks for 24-hours of sobriety, I will read it to remind me of the things for which I’m grateful.
Support others, pay it forward—When I stop thinking it’s all about me, I’m able to use my talents and experience to help others. Whether it is calling a fellow addict who may be struggling or volunteering to help a kid learn to read, I feel better about myself when I know that I’m making a difference. Selfishness was one of my character defects when using and I want to make selflessness part of my recovery.
It’s a simple plan and easy to follow that position me to achieve my goal of staying sober for 24-hours a day, 365 days of the year. The four keys are self-care, staying connected, being grateful and supporting others. Of course, nothing is easy when it comes to staying clean. I realize that I’m not perfect and may not adhere to the plan every day. If or when that happens I’m going to be easy on myself. Beating myself up will not change what has occurred and will prevent me from getting back on track.
I have some other things I want to accomplish this year that are not related to my sobriety. Rather, they are things I can do because I’m sober. But if I don’t succeed at any of these things my life isn’t greatly impacted. My sobriety resolution and goals to support it, on the other hand, can mean the difference between staying on the path I have chosen, or going back to where I don’t want to be. I’m convinced I’ll have more success with my sobriety resolutions than what I had with past resolutions because the stakes are higher. For me, it could be the difference between life and death, of enjoying my life or being slave to an addiction.