Let’s Make Next Year Even Safer!

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This is the perfect week to reflect on your past recovery and look forward to the year ahead. The week between Christmas and New Year’s is a time of transition. We’ve left most of the hustle and bustle of the holidays behind, but have not quite started the new year and the new routines it will bring. This makes it a perfect time to reflect on your past year in recovery, and make goals for how to sustain and enhance your recovery in the year ahead.

“It’s important to take an inventory of your year in recovery to have a solid visual of your achievements and mistakes,” say Rickey Pitts, the admissions coordinator at Deer Hollow Recovery and Wellness Centers, a treatment center in Draper, Utah.

Just as the 4th step tells us to take a searching and fearless moral inventory, taking a bold inventory of your successes and failures over the past year can help you continue to heal and to grow in recovery. Combined, that will make for a more successful recovery in 2019. Here’s what the process looks like:

Make a Pros and Cons List

Whether 2018 was your first year in recovery or you’ve been sober for decades, you likely had some highs and lows. After all, we can’t be perfect all the time. Pitts recommends making a list of the good, the bad, and the ugly of 2018. Think about times when you were rocking your recovery program, attending meetings and being of service. Now, consider when your recovery slipped, or any points where you were getting into a relapse mindset.

As you list the pros and cons, look for patterns. For example, if the change of seasons is hard for you, you can make sure that you have extra support during the spring and fall in 2019.

Doing some brainstorming about your year can be helpful, but if you’re really serious about your inventory, put pen to paper, Pitts says.

“What works for me is writing down achievements and mistakes of my last year,” he said. Journaling about your experience is a great way to do this exercise.

Measure Your Room for Improvement

Once you’ve taken inventory of your year, it’s time to think about how you can make 2019 even better.

While writing this list, and visualizing, I am able to identify areas I can make improvement,” Pitts says.

If you’re in early recovery, this could mean maintaining your treatment, avoiding risky situations and working toward getting your one-year chip. If you’ve been in recovery for a while, you probably need to do a bit more planning. Even if 2018 was a good year for you, challenge yourself to reach new heights in recovery during 2019. This might mean sponsoring another person, volunteering or doing important therapy work to delve deeper into your recovery.

Talk About Your Goals

The unbiased and nonjudgmental advice that we receive from sponsors and peers in recovery is essential for long-term success. After you’ve evaluated the past year and made some goals for 2019, talk about your past year and the year ahead with a trusted person in your recovery network.

“After writing my list I am able to call my sponsor to bounce things off of him and get an outsiders perspective of what I can work on,” Pitts said.

Not only can a sponsor help talk out problem areas, but he or she may also be able to spot patterns that you can miss if you’re taking inventory on your own.

Consider Making It A Group Effort

Although the stress of Thanksgiving and Christmas are done, New Year’s Eve— with its focus on drinking and partying — can also be a very tough time for people who are in recovery. Rather than doing your best to avoid people who are drinking while you’re out and about, create your own sober space to ring in the new year. Invite friends from your recovery community to bring a dish to share as you all reflect on your successes in 2018 and what you’d like to accomplish in your recovery during the year ahead.

Deer Hollow Recovery and Wellness Centers is a treatment center in Draper, Utah, that guides clients in moving towards physical, spiritual, psychological and social recovery.