Making a change in the New Year

24 Dec 2020
by Dr Vicky Phan

For many people, January is a time for setting New Year’s goals or resolutions. If managing your gambling, alcohol or other drug use is something you want to achieve in 2021, here are some tips to help you get started or stay on track.

Goal Setting


Tip 1: Set your goal

The first step is deciding what you want to achieve in 2021, and committing to it. Setting a SMART goal (something Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound) will make this feel more tangible. 

An example of a goal would be: 
“I am going to completely stop smoking cigarettes by the end of 2021.”

Tip 2: Make a plan

Plan the steps you need to take to achieve your goal, and consider the treatment and support you can access to help make things easier. Taking some time to write down your plan and the steps you intend to take will help you to be clear about your reasons for changing. You might also want to write down a few reasons why you want to make this change, to keep you motivated.

An example of this would be: 
“I will quit smoking cigarettes by the end of 2021 through: 

  1. reducing the total number of cigarettes I smoke by 1-2 each fortnight;
  2. drinking some water before I smoke a cigarette, and 
  3. calling QUIT Victoria to get more information and advice about other ways I can manage my smoking.

Quitting cigarettes will help me to:

  1. save money; 
  2. improve my breathing; and
  3. reduce arguments with my partner.”

Tip 3: Remember support is always available

Keep in mind that you can speak to an alcohol and other drug (AOD) counsellor online  or on the phone  for free and confidential advice 24/7 every day. Our AOD counsellors can provide you with support and information about the treatments, programs, and health and welfare professionals you can connect with, to help you make a positive change. 

You might also decide to share your goal with health and welfare professionals you are already seeing, and your family and/or your friends, so they are aware and can support you though the year.

Tip 4: Learn from the past

If you have gotten stuck trying to achieve your goal before, think about what worked and what you could do differently this time. 

Tip 5: Identify and plan for triggers

If there are places, people or circumstances that you think might make it hard for you to achieve your goal, think about how you will try to get through these moments before they happen. You might decide to change your social network, routine, or find new activities. 

If stress, uncomfortable emotions or other problems in your life are making it hard for you to achieve your goal, you might also want to speak to your GP or other health and welfare professionals to learn better ways to deal with problems and cope.

Tip 6: Check your progress regularly

Keep track of the steps you are taking to achieve your goal. You might want to keep a diary, or make a monthly appointment with your GP to take stock of how you are going and keep you motivated. 

Tip 7: Be proud of each step you make towards change

Celebrate the positive steps you take with healthy gifts and praise to yourself. You might want to mark important milestones in your path to change by enjoying a nice meal or catching up with someone important to your recovery to share your good news.

Tip 8: Remember that change is possible

It is normal to have mixed feelings about changing your habits, and to feel uncertain about whether you can make a change. At these times you might want to give in but remember change is possible.

Keep in mind that change takes time and when moving towards recovery people may face obstacles that set them back temporarily (a lapse) or for longer periods of time (a relapse). If you do experience a lapse or a relapse it is important to remember that you can overcome these, and you can achieve your goals. You can do it!

Need a hand?

Remember if you or anyone you know is affected by addiction and needs support, help is available:

For alcohol or other drug support: 1800 250 015 or Counselling Online

For gambling support: 1800 858 858 or Gambling Help Online

For support relating to sexual assault, domestic or family violence: 1800 737 732 1800 RESPECT.