Four Questions that will Set Your (Recovery) Direction for 2018

It’s 2018. How’s the year going for you so far?

Whether this year will be kind or a pain in your backside, you will not know until this time… next year. Sure, you cannot change 2017, but right now you can do something to improve your chances for a better year, a better you.

A friend of mine, Ryan Hall asks a powerful question in a recent article for the Good Men Project. “Your Life is Re-Written Every Day. So Who Holds the Pen?” I encourage you to read his article. It will take you a few minutes, but it could add years to your life.

“In between the birth and death dates, you’re going to find a dash. And that dash is your life. It matters not if your dash is only 9 weeks or 90 years. The question is the same either way. How are you filling your dash?” Ryan Hall

This blog is a space where we talk about recovery from addiction and mental health. That’s why it’s called “Getting High on Recovery.” When you are in the midst of a relapse of an addiction, an “episode” of depression or a return of other difficult emotions or mental states setting goals won’t work.

“In between the birth and death dates, you’re going to find a dash. And that dash is your life. It matters not if your dash is only 9 weeks or 90 years. The question is the same either way. How are you filling your dash?” Ryan Hall

Victoria Maxwell is in recovery and lives with Bipolar depression. She writes about her experience in Psychology Today, “Accomplishing goals when in the midst of mental illness is very different than when my mood’s stable for some time or you’ve never wrestled with psychiatric disorder period.”

Maxwell suggests a few goal setting tips if you are in recovery:

  • You may need to readjust your expectations daily, sometimes hourly, in relation to your health and needs.
  • Goals that were easily accomplished previously may need to be put on hold, for now.
  • Some days, tiny, tiny steps are huge progress.  These steps are crucial to achieving success, self-esteem and recovery.
  • Acknowledge any shame or embarrassment that you may feel: Your reaction to what you feel is realistic today can make or break your motivation and can worsen your outlook.
  • Accept what motivation you have right now, even if it feels miniscule. Take the steps you can realistically take today.
  • Remember that whatever you can do to practice kindness to yourself will make a difference to your life and your recovery.

I am not a fan of new year’s resolutions because I don’t think you can change your life based on a date on the calendar. But I am a believer in setting a direction for your year. Usually I take the first two weeks of a new year to reevaluate my life and set a few directions that I want to go with my personal life, family and my work. This weekend, if you have not already taken time to consider the direction you are heading for the new year.

“Set aside time to consider these four questions and where your life will take you in the new year. You’re going to be a different person this time next year, whether you’re intentional about it or not. Make sure that the person you’re becoming is a person that you intended to become.” Todd Henry

The four questions below are adapted from an article and podcast by Todd Henry.

Four questions that will set your direction for 2018

1. WHAT DO I WANT TO EXPERIENCE?

  • How do you want to feel? Consider the kinds of experiences that you’d like to have this year. Do you want closer relationships? More excitement? More time for creativity or reading? Improved skills that will help you in your job or personal life? What new music styles or artists can you open yourself to this year?

2. WHAT DO I WANT TO LEARN?

  • What subjects do you want to explore? Take some time to consider the kinds of new insights you want to have in the new year. What subjects do you want to explore? What areas of curiosity have you placed on the back burner so that you could get around to more practical things?

3. WHERE DO I WANT TO GO?

“Accomplishing goals when in the midst of mental illness is very different than when my mood’s stable for some time or you’ve never wrestled with psychiatric disorder period.” Victoria Maxwell
  • What places would you like to travel? If you can’t travel very far, what cultural experiences can you add to your life? What new restaurants, festivals, or celebrations would you like to take in? How can you explore your city or your location in a new way? What new experiences can you have that will give you a fresh take on your life or just “refresh” you, or your energy?

4. HOW DO I WANT TO CHANGE?

  • This final question is really key, because it is the best measure of success or failure. If your life is different, what will you notice that is different with your outlook? Your mindset? How you accept and open to your life, your relationships, your experiences? What values will you live out more this year?

Todd Henry asks: “So, how will you change in the upcoming year? How will you be different when you go through this exercise again in twelve months?”

For other goal-setting and mental health articles, may I suggest a few:

The Best New Years Resolution: Go on a Lecture Diet

The Words You Use to Describe Your Life May Be Making You Unhappy

Your Past is Not a Problem, It is Just a Perspective

This is where I am supposed to write some serious stuff about myself. But in reality, I just hope that you enjoy what I write. I hope it makes you smile, makes you feel a little lighter and enjoy your life a little more. Nope, it’s not therapy, but I am sharing the good stuff… the stuff that helps me.

If you like it, sign up for my blog and share my work. And if you want to go the extra mile, click here to vote for my page on Psych Central’s list of mental health blogs.

Keep it Real

Photo by Jim Sher


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