Rethinking making resolutions when you are in sex addiction recovery
New Year’s resolutions can feel so very cliche. We all make them, but then forget them by February 1st. What’s the point? Why do we continue to carry on this silly tradition? Well, goals CAN be powerful if set in a manner that supports rather than dominates and calls unneeded attention to our failures.
Often times New Year’s goals are lofty and hard to reach. You set a big goal like — I will step up my recovery. What does that actually mean? I believe there are two parts to a personal goal. There’s the big picture blue sky idea, and then there are the nuts and bolts that will get you there. Both are equally important.
Wanting to advance in recovery is an incredible worthwhile goal, but how are you going to do it? And how will you manage times when you fall short?
I believe the big picture goal is like a rudder on a ship. You have a destination that you hope to reach. Maybe it’s reaching full sobriety. Maybe it’s repairing with your partner. You can set your rudder to hit your destination, but how do you ensure that you stay the course? At the end of 2018, will you be closer to your destination than you are now? AND, the hope is for closer. Perfection is not attainable so that’s why simply making a laundry list of to-dos will not get you there. It’s human to fail. It’s how we handle failure that really matters.
When making a resolution, take some time to think where you’d like to be at the end of 2018. Make some big picture goals such as:
- I want to regain trust with my Partner
- I want to achieve sobriety
- I want a healthier lifestyle
Those are all great goals, but they’re very broad. It’s good to know your final destination. That’s where you are wanting to arrive, but how do you get there? What do those goals actually mean to you on a day-to-day basis?
I want to regain trust with my Partner
Recovery is about recovering your life. It’s not just about not acting out so wanting to repair with your Partner is an amazing goal! But, how do you do it?
“SMART” resolutions can help you build tangible support goals to help you get to your big picture destination. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-related. If you want to rebuild trust with your partner, tangible goals could be:
- Going to a weekly 12-step meeting at least 4 times a month
- Having an accountability partner that you check in with weekly on Fridays
- Seeing a therapist bi-monthly every Tuesday
- Bringing flowers home to her every Thursday
If you’re not sure what to put on your list, ask your Partner or talk with a friend, sponsor or therapist. But these support goals should be very specific and measurable. This will help keep your rudder headed for your big picture destination.
The thing to remember with SMART goals is that things will NEVER be perfect. You WILL miss a meeting. You’ll forget to bring home the flowers. You will mess up. Life may even throw you a curveball like a job set-back or a death in the family. What do you do then? What if you DO fall short of your SMART goals? How do you create a safety net for yourself? Make sure to make contingency plans for if and when you need to adjust your goals.
Set-Up Monthly Personal Check-Ins
How can you ensure that you’ll be closer to your big picture destination by the end of 2018? You need to check in with yourself AT LEAST once a month. Put it on the calendar. Put a reminder on your phone. This IS crucial. You need to evaluate monthly if you are still on course to your big picture destination. Maybe you had a terrible month, and all the SMART goals went out the window. That’s ok. You can RECOVER. But, you need to be honest and admit that you are floating off course. You need to make a plan on how to correct your course. This could look like:
- Talking with your Sponsor
- Talking to your Therapist
- Calling a Friend and asking them to go to a meeting with you
- Being honest with your Partner, and sharing how you’ve failed
I know that last one is a hard pill to swallow, but if you are in relationship, you don’t live in a vacuum so your failures will impact your Partner and other relationships. It doesn’t mean you can’t bring your relationships back to a safe place. You just have to be aware that every action will create a reaction. The reality is your Partner probably has some deal-breaker items. But even if you break those promises, it doesn’t mean you need to throw your recovery out of the window. Ultimately, recovery is about giving you back your life so you can thrive in intimate relationships. In many cases, the hope is to rebuild, but sometimes that’s not possible, but you can still move forward in health. Actions speak louder than empty promises, and you never know how your commitment to recovery will impact someone. Keep going.
How Do You Handle the Shame of Failing?
You realize you’re human, and you will fail. You understand that you haven’t hit rock bottom until you’re dead. You fight for your big picture destination. You set it for a reason. It meant something to you. Fight for it. Learn from your mistakes, and you reset your rudder for your big picture destination. Fight.