How many of you reading this already have resolutions in mind that you want to make for the new Year? Next question is how many of you will follow through on the promises you make to yourself? The answer is obvious…, most of us say we will do this that and the other, but the chances are good that less than thirty days into the New Year, many will have reneged on their promises and it’s back to business as usual.
I stopped making New Year’s resolutions a long time ago, and I did so for several reasons: I knew I wouldn’t stick to whatever promise I made to myself, and the truth is, my resolutions were always things that I should’ve wanted to do anyway: like eat right, exercise, practice mindfulness, meditate more…you get the picture.What worked for me to make some of the necessary changes—permanent—was to incorporate some of the recovery principles that I learned in sobriety, and apply them to other areas of my life where I wanted to see change. The principles are just that, principles, so where or how you apply them doesn’t matter. They work because they make a whole lot of sense, and they can help you to bring about the desired changes that you want to see in your own life:
1.) One Day at a Time.
2.) There is No Easier Softer Way.
3.) Find a Spiritual Connection.
There are many more principles and tools that I’ve learned to help me stay away from a drink—one day at a time, and since it’s been twenty-eight years since I’ve had a drink, perhaps there’s something to these suggestions.
One Day At a Time
I could talk about many other principles that have been helpful to me, but let’s take a closer look at the three principles that I mentioned since they are suggestions that anyone can incorporate and apply to their daily lives: One day at a time is one of the most powerful tools that I learned. I keep it on hand and pull it out on a regular basis. Some days, it’s the only thing that helps me to put one foot in front of the next. Regardless of what’s going on, I can make it through one day at a time, and if I must, I can break it down to one hour or even one minute at a time. For example, here’s how it works: we tend to think in absolutes; I will never eat another cream filled donut with that yummy chocolate icing for the rest of the year, or some may even say, the rest of my life. That’s harsh. I don’t know about you, but I love cream filled donuts. The finality of not ever having another donut makes me want to go out and buy several dozens and eat them all right now. That sort of all or nothing thinking would leave anyone screaming, no, no, no, but when we can take a more manageable bite out of things and say, today, I’m not going to eat that cream filled donut, but if I want one tomorrow, I will have one. See, it even sounds better. Less restrictive and not authoritative at all. I’m not suggesting we trick ourselves, but it allows us the opportunity to make a different choice every day, instead of making one big choice that is supposed to last for half the year or longer. It’s not realistic, and from years of maybe trying and failing to stick to a plan, what have you got to lose but try something different?
There is No Easier Softer Way
Anything worth having or doing takes work. I look back at all the money I spent on one bogus weight loss fad after another, one vitamin supplement after another, one concoction after another that promised unrealistic results with little or no effort—all of them were a waste. What woman hasn’t wasted far too much money on beauty creams and serums that didn’t work? I’ve had personal trainers that had me whipped into shape in no time, but when I no longer had to be accountable and show up for the trainer, and there was no one cheering me on—you guessed it, I became a slacker. Left to my own devices, as soon as I’d start to break a sweat I’d decide it was time to rest a bit or go chat with the gal or guy across the way who looked as bored with their workout as I was with mine.
It’s only when something clicked inside of me and I decided that if I wanted to lose a few pounds, and keep them off, I needed to watch what I ate, and create new habits. I also decided to get honest with myself about what I was and wasn’t willing to do. I’ve had umpteen gym memberships, but the truth is, I hate going to the gym. I was the typical person who buys a membership, goes a whole bunch for the first few months and then my treks dwindled down to nothing. I realized, that I am certainly no couch potato, and because I have a dog who I walk twice a day, that spending several hours at the gym was too time consuming, and, I hated bolting out the door in the morning when I could just as easily workout at home. Now, that’s what I do. I have a routine in the morning that I stick to because it’s on my terms and it’s doable. My morning looks something like this: I spend some quiet time with God and my dog, then head downstairs for my morning workout that consists of some light weights, a little yoga, and twenty to thirty minutes on the treadmill. I know to some it may not sound like much of a workout, but it’s realistic for me and on days that I don’t have to get to work early, I follow through. It’s now as much a part of my morning routine as my first cup of coffee. It’s become a habit.
Find a Spiritual Connection
I can’t imagine getting through anything hard—life, without some sort of spiritual belief or connection. I happen to believe in God, and can’t imagine my life without him. There’s angst in the world. Life is hard. People are mean, and some are hateful. Horrible things happen. What do you do with all the negativity that we’re bombarded with if there isn’t something in the universe bigger and more powerful to help us through the trying times and make sense of it all? I happened to believe that God can, and will give us strength to do what we never thought we could do. I remember being in my first year of sobriety; I’d given birth to twins and knew I needed to get my act together. I’d been in and out of colleges for almost a decade, and though I had amassed hundreds of credits, I didn’t have a degree. I decided to become a nurse, and started nursing school when my sons were six months old. I look back on those years and still marvel at how I succeeded. I know that the only way I managed to get through school, graduated valedictorian of my class, and care for my children was because of God’s unfailing help and grace. Anytime we have hard things in life, and even when we don’t, a spiritual connection of some sort makes all the difference between failure and success.
We change our lives by taking consistent baby steps in the direction that we want to go. Then we make a habit to keep taking those steps, one day at a time. We know that it won’t be easy, but nothing worth pursuing is ever easy, and lastly, ask for spiritual help. Knowing you have a supreme being on your side to help you through can make all the difference between initiating real change or slipping back to the status quo.