Failed your New Year’s resolution already? Here’s how to get back on track

January 1st is the beginning of a brand-new year. It’s a hopeful day, brimming with aspiration for the coming twelve months. Most people use this day to choose a New Year’s resolution, and if you’re a follower of this page, it’s likely that one of your major resolutions was to finally ditch porn for good. How’s it going? Statistically, only about eight percent of people actually achieve their resolutions and nearly 90% have given up completely before January is even over. Sorry for the bad news! But you probably already knew this from experience.

Whether you’re going strong, have fallen off the wagon or the wagon has crashed into a tree and exploded into flames, there’s no need to give up hope. Now is the time to reinvigorate those resolutions and get back on track. You can make them stick, for the next twelve months and beyond. You just need to do these three simple tasks:

Rethink your words. Instead of a resolution, set a goal.

I’ve used the term ‘resolution’ a few times in this blog because it’s familiar language at this time of year, but we need to rethink our words. Let’s be real, a resolution is nothing but a fantasy. It’s not a plan, it has no direction. Instead of simply stating what you desire, set a goal.

A goal is an idea of the future or desired result that a person or group of people envision, plan and commit to achieve. 

The difference between a resolution and a goal, is that the latter actually requires a plan of action by definition. If your ‘goal’ doesn’t come with some kind of plan, you’re dreaming.

Let’s talk about creating a goal and plan of action. What do you need to do?

1. Choose your goal. Make sure it’s specific and achievable. Instead of simply ‘never, ever watch pornography again’ why not try specific goals such as:

  • Meet with my accountability partner once every week for twelve months
  • Book in with a counsellor/psychologist and stick with it for six months
  • Work through Restored: A Woman’s Guide to Overcoming Pornography
  • Tell my accountability partner every time I lapse, and never give up the battle

2. Consider your ‘why?’ What’s your motivation? What will the consequences be if you do/don’t follow your plan? How will achieving your goal improve your life? Write this down and come back to it as motivation when the journey gets tough.

3. Consider what it will take to achieve this goal of yours. Write a list. Be specific and practical, including every step you need to take. This is your to-do list. Do it.

4. Call in accountability. Whatever your goal is, you need support. You need a friend to celebrate the victories and regularly check in to ask ‘hey, how’s that plan going? Are you on track?’

5. Remember, you will make mistakes and that’s okay. If you experience a lapse along the road to recovery or go off track in any way with your goal, the solution is not to indulge a tantrum and throw in the towel until the next New Year’s Eve comes around. The solution is to learn from it. It’s okay to mess-up, this is simply an opportunity for growth. Part of the process of achieving your goals is learning what works, what doesn’t and adjusting the plan accordingly. Create space in your plan of action for flexibility and change, and keep reviewing it, especially when something isn’t working. Don’t give up just because you can’t be perfect.

Don’t give up just because you can’t be perfect.

Don’t focus on restrictive goals, include positivity in your plan.

Facing up to a pornography problem and working on getting free can quickly become a very negative, restrictive task if you let it be. Obviously, this process is going to involve restriction, you need to do everything you can to avoid old problematic behaviours. However, you must focus equally, if not more, on positive behavioural change. Recovery is like a train track, you have two parallel rails pointing in the same direction, one is sobriety and the other is restoration. Together they move you forward. Restorative or positive behaviours include developing healthy friendships and connecting with loving communities, investing in a project, hobby or interest, practicing a healthy lifestyle by eating, sleeping, moving and treating your body well, spending time in nature and challenging yourself to step out of your comfort zone to enjoy new experiences. Recovery isn’t just about not watching pornography, it’s about creating a life you love. Some goals you might want to consider for this year include:

  • Join a sports team, gym or pick up a new physical skill
  • Join a board-game or crafting club
  • Learn a new language
  • Participate in a physical challenge e.g obstacle course/fun-run
  • Meet once a week with a friend for coffee
  • Rejoin a church, Bible study or spiritual community
  • Commit to seeing a counsellor regularly
  • Spend at least 30 minutes in nature every day/week
  • Read/listen to a certain number of novels or nonfiction books this year
  • Consume at least 3 serves of vegetables/fruits daily
  • Do something you’ve always dreamt of doing
  • Go to bed/wake up at regular hours that work best for you
  • Walk (or sit outside) for 20 minutes every day

These are just a few examples from my own journey. Your restorative goals can be totally unique! We all have different physical/mental abilities, budgets, living arrangements, social circles and access to services and opportunities. Choose goals that work for you!

Remember, every moment is a fresh start.

Mondays and New Year’s Eve aren’t the only times you can start fresh! Every moment is a new opportunity to begin again. Waiting for a ‘fresh start’ to come around is simply an excuse to continue indulging in unhealthy behaviours. Annie Dillard says ‘The way you live your day, is the way you live your life’. If you want to live a happy, recovered life- start the work immediately after a slip-up.

Waiting for a ‘fresh start’ to come around is simply an excuse to continue indulging in unhealthy behaviours.

So, if you’ve messed up your New Year resolution already (like most people have), you now know what to do. Turn that fantasy into a goal with a workable plan of action, remember to focus on positivity and never, ever give up just because you made a mistake. Keep going! This is how you achieve your goals and make it to December 31st with pride in your heart, rather than shame. It won’t always be easy, but it is possible and it will be worth it.

If you’re not sure where to start with your plan of action, head to ‘Get-Help’ and discover six steps to beginning the journey, plus many more great resources listed by topic.

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