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Making New Year's Resolutions You Can Actually Keep

Guidelines for Those in Recovery

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Updated December 31, 2012

Making new year's resolutions is a long-standing tradition for many people. It signifies hope for lasting change in the coming year. As you look back over your past year, consider what has gone well and what hasn't gone so well. What things are working for you that you want to continue in the new year? What things aren't working?

As you consider these things, it may be tempting to make incredible resolutions such as "exercising every day" or "never purging again." Unfortunately, these simply aren't realistic and are likely to be broken within a few days or weeks. Consider these guidelines when you make your resolutions this year. You'll be much more likely to make them a long-term part of your life.

  1. Be realistic. Resolutions like "never purging again" or "never weighing myself again" aren't really realistic. You can still make resolutions that are about these things though. It may be something like "decrease purging by more than half over the course of the year" or "throwing away my scale." Work with your therapist to determine what a realistic goal for yourself is this year.

  2. Be flexible. Hard and fast resolutions with specific outcomes can be extremely disappointing if you aren't able to keep them. Work some flexibility into your resolutions by using general ideas like "be more mindful" rather than "keep all of my appointments" or "write in a journal every day." This allows you to work towards the resolution in different ways, challenging yourself in easier ways at first and then in more difficult ones.

  3. Limit the number of resolutions you make. Writing a list of ten or more resolutions can seem incredibly tempting. However, it can also be incredibly hard to keep. Choose one or two that seem doable and focus on those. If you are able to master them by June, feel free to make some new ones for the second half of the year!

  4. Don't limit your resolutions to recovery-focused ideas. Focusing resolutions on recovery is a natural idea. However, you may also want to think about resolutions that are about life after recovery, or filling your life with good things that will take the place of the eating disorder in your life.These may be as simple as "read more" or "try a new hobby." What kinds of things do you see yourself doing after your eating disorder?

  5. Write down your resolutions. Writing down things helps us remember them and also helps us make them more real. If you are able to, post them somewhere you will see them everyday - next to your mirror, on your desk or on your nightstand. While you are brushing your teeth or getting ready for work, ask yourself how you're doing with these resolutions. It's okay if you aren't keeping up with them as much as you would like to. Just consider how to can begin to focus on them anew.

  6. Visualize your success. Whether you use meditation or simply daydream, begin to visualize what your life will be like if you actually succeed with these resolutions. What kinds of things will tell you that you've been successful? How will your life look different than it does today?
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