By Leah Harris

Let Recovery Values Inspire You to Make Positive Changes in 2020 and Beyond

With a new decade beginning, we may feel a lot of extra pressure to shed a challenging habit or become a “new and improved” version of ourselves. But the research shows that most people really struggle to keep their New Year’s resolutions. According to Forbes, “Studies have shown that less than 25% of people actually stay committed to their resolutions after just 30 days, and only 8% accomplish them.”

In the face of these discouraging statistics, here are some tips for how to engage the collective wisdom of the peer recovery movement to help to usher in the change you desire, for yourself and your community.

1. Go strengths-based. We know recovery is strengths-based rather than deficit-based, but so often New Year’s resolutions are focused on the ways in which we are “not good enough.” What if in addition to pledging to do or be something else, we also focused on building upon the things we already are, do, and love? A blog in Psychology Today discusses how to apply a strengths-based approach to the new year: “A strength-focused New Year’s tradition would involve reflecting on and identifying what’s going well in our lives—our talents, meaningful achievements, helpful habits, and solid alliances—and resolving to maintain those and become more intentional about protecting, celebrating, and building on them.”

2. Recovery is non-linear. Perhaps you set a goal to get back into making art again, and it’s March and you haven’t picked up your colored pencils. It’s easy to get discouraged when we struggle to follow through on commitments to ourselves. But if we remember that recovery is non-linear, that gives us some permission to forgive ourselves and start again at this moment. It’s an opportunity to reflect on why we are struggling to reach our goal. Was the goal too vague? Maybe it needs to get more specific. Was the goal too difficult? Consider changing it to feel more achievable. So, if you were vowing to draw five days a week, perhaps the goal can be revised to take out the drawing pad just once a week. According to Lifehacker: “We’re all motivated by success. If you get discouraged early on you’re more likely to abandon your goals. But if you reach your goal, even if it’s not your ultimate one, you’ll feel good about yourself and press on.”

3. Bring on the peer support. People are more likely to stick to a goal, create a new habit, or to make a change if they pursue it with others. Using the example above, if you’re struggling to get back into consistent creativity, consider meeting with friends or peers for an afternoon of art-making once a month. If you’re trying to be more active, invite a friend to be a hiking partner. Another way to bring in peer support is to commit the changes you want to make to a friend and ask if they’d like to commit a change to you in return. You can then agree to check in with each other on a regular basis as to how it’s going. The sky’s the limit in terms of creative ways to call upon and give peer support to help the changes you want to see in 2020 and beyond.

Change is rarely easy, but it’s so worth the effort. As Kate Werner writes in Yes! Magazine:

“Reflection and planning help us get clear about our most powerful roles, move distractions and busyness out of the way, and allow us to move with purpose.”

For further exploration: