5 Paths to a Fresh Start in the New Year
“As we know all too well in the world of recovery, sometimes we have to go through the darkest times in order to be prepared for change.”
Guest blog by Adam Hartzell, CEO, SouthLight Healthcare
Here’s one thing we can all agree on: 2020 has taken its toll on everyone. We are collectively going through a pandemic, recession, job losses and stay-at-home orders. That is not to mention political strife, inequality and the loss of many of our favorite stores and neighborhood restaurants. And we lost icons like Alex Trebek, Chadwick Boseman, Kobe Bryant and so many more.
2020 is coming to a close, and it’s time for a fresh start. The turn of a new year provides us the opportunity to start the transition to better days. Yes, bring it on 2021! We are ready. As we know all too well in the world of recovery, sometimes we have to go through the darkest times in order to be prepared for change.
Those who come to SouthLight are experts on fresh starts. They know what it means to overcome barriers and dig out of difficult circumstances.
At SouthLight, one of the oldest and largest nonprofit providers of behavioral health services in the Triangle, we see many who come to us at their lowest points seeking a partner to support their desire for a fresh start. This year has brought greater awareness of the many among us who turn to alcohol, opioids or other substances to try and sooth the pain of isolation, hopelessness and depression.
Those who come to SouthLight are experts on fresh starts. They know what it means to overcome barriers and dig out of difficult circumstances. Perhaps we can all learn from their journeys. In my conversations with our SouthLight family, almost everyone will tell you it takes strength, determination, grit and a lot of grace and forgiveness.
Here are five things I learned from those brave enough to reach out for help and chart a new direction:
- Take it one day at a time. Change is hard and can be overwhelming. Often, the folks at SouthLight who are the most successful set small achievable goals that can be accomplished one at a time. In this way, they build their change-making skills. Like building back muscle after an injury, you start small and build endurance a little each day. Coming back from the trauma of 2020 will require a transition period. We will have to retrain our thought processes, expectations, behaviors and habits.
- Try something new. Finding healthy ways to relieve stress may be an opportunity to start a new chapter in your life. Have you ever wanted to paint, read, meditate, walk or cook? Now may be the time to break up the old routine and work something new into your day. Any one of these activities can give your brain a boost, build confidence and help create a new perspective.
- Don’t be afraid to fail. One of our opioid team members says “Setbacks don’t always equal failure.” The journey to greater satisfaction and happiness may not be smooth. You will still have good days and bad days. Allow yourself to be sad, disappointed or frustrated. Learn from each experience. Don’t avoid unhappiness, but instead challenge yourself to a new perspective. Life is often good because we know of the bad. It builds our sense of gratitude for things we are able to celebrate.
- Celebrate successes. Whether it is significant milestones or simply small wins each day, you need to acknowledge your achievements. How often do we beat ourselves up for every little set-back, but then forget to reward ourselves for the steps forward? Those living empowered lives recognize their accomplishments and build upon each step.
- Don’t go it alone. You have to want it, but you don’t have to do it without support. Build your network of helpful partners, such as friends, family or a sponsor. Sometimes it’s best to have some new influences in your life. Often, its professional support like the counselors and clinicians at SouthLight who empower the journey and help people take one step at a time.
The new year offers a fresh start.
Together, we can stay safe. Some of us will get a vaccine to keep us COVID-free. Regardless, the dark days of winter will eventually warm into the brighter days of spring. Be diligent. Be patient. The changing seasons offer us a chance to build new, healthier habits and fresh perspectives into our lives.
Ready for a fresh start? Now is the time!
Be diligent. Be patient. The changing seasons offer us a chance to build new, healthier habits and fresh perspectives into our lives.
Adam Hartzell is the CEO at SouthLight Healthcare, one of North Carolina’s largest nonprofit providers of substance use treatment and mental health services. SouthLight partners with individuals and communities to provide innovative treatment solutions delivered with compassion and dignity. With outpatient and community-based programs, SouthLight provides prevention, education and treatment services in the Triangle and beyond.