It’s a new year, and with the change in date comes an increased motivation to change some of our most unhealthy habits. Making a New Year’s resolution and actually sticking to it is notoriously difficult – only about 9% of people who make a New Year’s resolution believe they achieved it. When it comes to battling addiction or staying in recovery, making a resolution that will lead to real change is even harder. Luckily, social scientists have discovered some useful ways to help keep you accountable in the New Year: 

  1. Set realistic, SMART goals: Mark Griffiths, who studies behavioral addiction at Nottingham Trent University, suggests starting small and being realistic: ” If you want to reduce your alcohol intake because you tend to drink alcohol every day, don’t immediately go teetotal. Try to cut out alcohol every other day or have a drink once every three days.” This means setting goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound.  

  1. Set barriers: Make it harder for yourself to fall back on your old ways. For example, if you want to reduce your smoking habit, challenge yourself to only buy cigarettes at one store, or to buy a different kind than you usually smoke. If you have a problem with gambling, The Gambling Clinic at the University of Memphis has information on self-exclusion in the state of Mississippi, where one can voluntarily have themselves barred from all gaming establishments in the state. 

  1. Allow yourself some failures: Research suggests that the best goals are ones that set a high bar – however, not allowing yourself a few moments to slip up might send your confidence spiraling. Instead, account for those inevitable mistakes before you even start so that when they do occur, you can take them in stride and keep moving forward. 

  1. Invite a friend: It’s always easier to achieve something when you have the support of your friends and family. People that know about your resolution can help keep you away from the temptations you are trying to escape, such as smoking or drinking. Never be afraid to ask for help! 

  Good luck in the New Year!  

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