Each New Year offers the opportunity to reflect on the past and brings with it hope for the year ahead. The onset of the New Year usually comes with passionate declarations of what we wish to change moving forward. Most New Year’s resolutions involve developing a healthier lifestyle, saving money, or losing weight1. For those struggling with a substance use disorder, the main focus may be to enter a treatment program or repair the damage done by their use. Those in long-term recovery might want to increase their meeting attendance, advance their careers, or work on their personal development. While these are all backed with honorable intentions, setting New Year’s resolutions actually has a very low success rate. Research shows that only 8% of people will actually achieve their resolutions, regardless of what they were.   

A primary reason why New Year’s resolutions fail is that intention does not translate into action. Whether you are considering making big or small changes in your recovery, there are more effective ways to get results than simply setting a broad resolution.  

Setting Goals for Recovery

When setting goals it is important to consider exactly what you want. Be as specific as possible. If you have a broad idea of what you want to accomplish, break it down into measurable objectives. & Writing down your goals and identifying a way to track them will also help you achieve success. 

If you are struggling with a substance use disorder, your goal may be to get clean or sober. Setting a broad goal, such as “getting clean” can feel overwhelming and you may be left wondering exactly how to do it. Figure out what actionable steps would be involved in achieve that broad goal. For many, getting clean or sober would involve multiple steps, such as entering a treatment program, seeking medical attention, cleaning out all substances/paraphernalia from the home, or building a recovery support network. 

If you are looking to strengthen your recovery, or avoid relapse, consider the specific ways you can accomplish that goal. For example, rather than broadly aiming to have a better recovery program, set a goal to contact your sponsor daily or attend five recovery meetings per week.  

Track Your Progress

Identifying ways measure your progress will help keep you motivated. Consider how you will track your progress and what tangible evidence you will have along the way. Celebrating milestones is great motivation.   It may be wise to break your goal down into a few daily or weekly steps that you can easily measure.  

Stick to a Schedule

Goals should be time-specific. Ideally, setting goals will create a practical sense of urgency that motivates your actions. Rather than saying, “I’ll enter treatment this month,” pick a specific date to enter a treatment program. Committing to a timeline will act as a necessary source of motivation to transform intention into action. 

Take Action

Goals without action are simply dreams. To avoid becoming overwhelmed, break down the action steps you need to take into small increments. Make sure they are manageable for you. Consistent effort, even if it seems small, will produce results over time. 


Whether your goal is to begin your journey in recovery or to maintain a solid recovery program, outlining the specific steps necessary to achieve your goal will help you succeed. If you aren’t sure where to begin, or are looking for some extra support, Greenbriar Treatment Center is here to help. Our comprehensive treatment programs offer individualized treatment planning to help you achieve your goals. Contact us today to learn more.