Why It Is Important to Have Goals
An important part of addiction recovery is setting realistic goals. Goals can give you a sense of direction and help keep you focused on staying sober. They should be kept simple and obtainable. You do not want to place unrealistic demands or expectations on yourself that could put you at risk for disappointment and possible relapse.
Goals in recovery can help you move forward and not feel stuck. Setting goals that are purposeful and focused on your sobriety is an important step in the journey of recovery.
When setting goals for yourself in recovery, start with short-term goals that can be met and celebrated quickly. SMART goals are often used for business, but this model can be applied to personal goal-setting as well. According to the Mayo Clinic, SMART goals can help put you on a path to long-term success. SMART goals are:
- Specific. Aim for a specific goal that is clear and easy to understand: “I will go to bed by 11 p.m. every weeknight.”
- Measurable. Make the goal one that can be measured and met: “I will go on two 10-minute walks every day.”
- Attainable. An attainable goal is one that is not set too high or low: “I will lose 5 pounds by the end of the month.” (An unattainable goal might be to lose 30 pounds in the same time period.)
- Relevant. Make the goal relevant to your sobriety and well-being: “I will attend my recovery support group at least three times every week.”
- Timely. Place a specific time frame on the goal you want to achieve: “In two months’ time, I will be able to walk for 30 minutes every day.”
Examples of Realistic Objectives
Some examples of realistic goals that can be used for recovery are:
- Complete a treatment program. If you are looking to get sober, make it a goal to find and complete a treatment program.
- Stay sober. Make your main goal and focus to stay sober.
- One day at a time. Take recovery one day at a time and don’t stay focused on the past or future.
- Find time for yourself throughout the day. This time can be used for meditation or prayer or to simply give yourself a break from daily stresses.
- Attend meetings. Those who are newly sober may want to make a goal of attending 30 recovery meetings in 30 days.
- Find a trusted friend or sponsor. Surround yourself with people who support you and your recovery. Having a sponsor or a trusted friend who is also sober can help you stay accountable and give you encouragement. Make it a goal to find people who support your sobriety.
- Rebuild a damaged relationship. You can make it a goal to repair or rebuild a relationship that has been damaged due to your alcohol or substance abuse.
- Make health a priority. Maybe your addiction led to unhealthy habits. Make it a goal to eat healthy and exercise as part of your recovery process.
Tips for Goal-Setting
Goal-setting should be kept simple so that it does not cause stress. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Just set a few goals at a time. You are less likely to suffer burn out if you do not put high demands on yourself.
Another helpful tip for keeping track of your goals is to write them down. You can use a journal to write down your goals and keep them nearby. It is good practice to review your goals often and track when you meet or exceed one of your goals. In addition to a journal, you can also write your goals on a calendar or white board.
There are several things to avoid when setting realistic goals:
- Don’t set goals too far into the future. This can make it difficult to stay motivated, especially if you aren’t able to see and celebrate incremental changes.
- Set goals for yourself–not to satisfy other people. If you set goals based on what you think other people want for you, you will not have the internal motivation to see them through. Set goals that YOU want to achieve, for your own well-being. By the same token, don’t set objectives that depend on another person (for example, if your goal is to improve a relationship, let your goals focus on your own behavior–not on the other person’s response).
- Don’t be unrealistic in your goal-setting. If you set goals that require too much change in your routine or personality, you are setting yourself up for failure. Know yourself, and set goals that require only small changes. A series of small changes will eventually add up to a big change.
Celebrate your successes. No matter how big or small a goal may be, you should celebrate your accomplishments along your journey to recovery.
We are Here to Help
At Twin Lakes Recovery Center, a leading Atlanta-area addiction treatment center, we can help guide you on your path to recovery. We offer a range of treatments and services as well as continuing care. Help is available 24/7. To find out more about our programs, contact us online to set up a confidential consultation.