Motivation can be a hard thing to come by when we are battling with our recovery. Finding the drive, energy and even the interest to keep going sometimes is quite the feat. One thing we do know makes it easier is novelty. It is both what makes sticking to our commitments hard (we are all guilty of being side tracked by a new “idea” of how to recover – something that often feels more interesting or enjoyable then the task we are currently doing) but, when used to our advantage, novelty is what also can keep us interested and making progress.
January is a great month for us to discuss this because it’s a time when we are often bombarded by people’s new years resolutions and the decision to either set them, abandon them and/or focus on maintaining them. While I myself am not a huge believer in New Years resolutions, largely because only 9.3% of people are successful in sticking with them, I do strongly believe in setting goals that can help us achieve our ultimate goal of being well.
One of the greatest struggle people have when they are setting goals is that they make them too big, too broad, and too vague. These goals feel great to begin with but
they often make it difficult to see our successes, which can cause us to give up and retreat into what is comfortable or safe.
If you want to move forward and stay motivated in your recovery I recommend you start much smaller and create monthly focuses, or, for those of you who are at the very beginning of your recovery journey, weekly focuses. These focuses need to be bite sized – in other words, pick a focus that you feel you can manage without your anxiety being at a 10/10 consistently.
For example, we know that self care is critical to our recovery and yet when it comes to doing it, it can often be something that people struggle to maintain. A bite-sized goal could be that you plan on doing some form of self care for 20 minutes three times a week for the next 4 weeks. When the 4 weeks are up, you take a moment to reflect on whether or not you believe doing this goal was helpful for you. Keep in mind, helpful doesn’t mean it was without struggle. It means that it had some kind of positive impact on you and your ultimate goal of recovery. Sometimes it can be helpful to get feedback from those closest to us to see if they noticed if our focus had a positive impact.
If your focus was helpful after committing to it for 4 weeks, keep it in your schedule and add a new focus. Remember these focuses are meant to be manageable and not all consuming. On the other hand, if you found your focus was too overwhelming or ended up fuelling your eating disorder in some way, set it aside and pick something that you feel will promote your well being. We can always come back to focuses that may not have been the right fit for a particular time in our lives but might be healthier at a later date.
What we are ultimately striving for is the ability to increase the number of positive focuses we have each day. In time, the things that were particularly difficult become easier with practice and consistency and our days are dominated with recovery focuses and goals instead of our Eating Disorder’s demands.