How to Rethink Resolutions and Goals

New Year Resolutions and Recovery

How to Rethink Resolutions and Goals

The time after the holidays holds untapped potential. Somewhere though, the resolutions you made on New Year’s Eve can fall away from your daily routine, so don’t give up on your resolutions; instead, create goals. Resolutions need realistic and detailed objectives for them to be successful.

Is There a Difference Between a Goal and a Resolution?

There is one key difference between goals and resolutions. Although the two words can be interchanged, they aren’t quite the same. The subtle distinction between the words changes how you can succeed at both. When you make a New Year’s resolution, you make a promise to yourself. At first, you can easily stick to the resolution, but over time committing to it becomes challenging if you don’t have goals to stand by.


People often mistake their resolution for their goal, which is not accurate. The term resolution can encompass various things, but the word means a personal commitment to yourself. For example, if you resolved to give up substances in the New Year, you resolved. Being substance-free is a trajectory of where you want to go with your life. You made the promise to yourself to stop using substances and live your life clean and sober. When you resolved to become substance-free, you started on a life-altering journey.


Goals are specific targets you want to achieve. Both short-term and long-term goals reflect your expectations for your progress. Unlike resolutions, you can set a particular time to accomplish a goal, change the time if needed, or change the goal altogether. Goals are flexible once you realize life is full of the unexpected. There are obstacles you may face when trying to reach a goal. Sometimes you may lack ferocity and don’t quite reach a particular goal, but you can always change course and achieve a better outcome.

For goals to turn into reality, accept you can’t control everything, and evaluate your options. The thought of not reaching a goal can create anxiety, depression, or stress, but a missed goal doesn’t mean all is lost. Instead, missed goals are opportunities to step back, assess, and redesign your path.

  • Stepping back from a situation helps you focus on the present. Assess what is going on in your life and ask yourself what you can and cannot control. Like a 12-Step program, you can admit you are powerless and can’t control everything. Give yourself a break from the self-blame game. When you resolve to stop using substances, you may not have fully understood how challenging or scary quitting can feel. It is also dangerous to attempt alone. Before you try to stop, seek help at a medically staffed detox center. A professionally staffed medical detox facility can save your life and provide a solid foundation for your substance addiction treatment.
  • Assessing a situation takes patience. To gain some perspective, try to practice mindfulness. Focus on the present and evaluate what you can change in your environment. Maybe you need to work on yourself. Sometimes people self-sabotage. For example, once you complete substance addiction treatment, you may return home to a harmful or triggering environment. Returning to an unhealthy situation where you know there is potential for relapse is self-sabotage. Instead, look at how decisions, behaviors, or environments can obstruct a goal. Then, you can find a different path to meet your goal.
  • Redesign your goal. Not everything is perfect; that’s why goals are flexible and can adapt to where you are in your life. When you first entered substance addiction treatment, you sat with a therapist and set goals. Throughout your treatment, you talked with your therapist, set new goals, changed old plans, and discontinued a pursuit. Your goals are integral to your resolution to stop using substances.

The Connection Between Goals and Resolutions

Goals and resolutions are intertwined. Resolutions reflect where you want to go or what you want in your life. Let’s go back to your goal of quitting substances. The resolution was to stop while the steps you need to take are your goals. You can only achieve sobriety and lasting recovery once you admit you have a substance use disorder, seek treatment, and continue your care after you finish your treatment program. The next step(s) to keeping your resolution includes group meetings, support groups, individual therapy, or returning to treatment if needed.

Set your goals to reflect where you are at this time in your life. Take time to heal, connect, and adjust your expectations. How many times have you set out thinking you wanted one thing only to find you want to reach a different goal? Set a new goal. Resolutions need goals if they are to succeed. Push your boundaries, meet sober friends, and go to sober parties. Life doesn’t stop once you are sober. Many would say life starts once you are sober.

Resolutions are like dreams. You can’t achieve them without setting goals. People make resolutions only to give them up because they don’t know how to make them happen. You can achieve your goals when you set short-term and long-term plans. Goals are stepping stones on the path to a new life. You can make a promise to yourself by resolving to stop using substances, but your goals should include seeking treatment, focusing on your journey, and being flexible. Resolve to become healthy by focusing on the present. Nestled in the Hollywood Hills, California, Alta Centers has the atmosphere needed to remain focused on treatment. The Hollywood Hills enhances feelings of serenity and hope when you walk through the door. We understand your sobriety is essential. That’s why our therapists guide you to understand your addiction and how to maintain sobriety. You will never feel rushed to reach a specific goal. To find out more, call (888) 202-2583.

About Alta Centers Detox

Alta Centers Detox is  Addiction Treatment Centers with Alcohol Rehab and Drug Rehab in Los Angeles California