Setting a goal isn’t too challenging. Working to meet that goal could be. In addiction recovery, goals are the backbone of your long-term success. View them as steps. Addiction recovery goals are measurable and attainable steps that take you closer to your lifelong goal of sobriety and well-being.
How to Set Goals the SMART Way
When creating goals, use the acronym SMART:
Specific: Rather than setting vague goals (ex: “stay strong in recovery”), be specific. Choose actions that you know will help with sobriety, like going to counseling sessions on time every week or finding a new job that will be less stressful and more fulfilling. Write down your goal: studies indicate that a person who writes down their goals is 33 percent more likely to achieve them.
Measurable: How can you measure the success of your goal? For example, you might want to send out 10 resumes this month, attend 3 recovery group meetings a week, go on a short walk after dinner 5 nights a week, etc. When you can measure your success, you feel good about your achievement and motivated to keep going.
Attainable: If you set a goal that will be too hard to realistically achieve, you will only get discouraged. To set attainable goals, you need to know yourself. If you’ve never run a mile in your life, don’t set a goal to run a marathon. Instead, set small goals that you can then increase incrementally. Also, don’t set a goal that depends on another person’s participation. For example, “heal my marriage” isn’t necessarily an attainable goal if your partner isn’t on board. Instead, you could set a goal to work with a therapist to learn more about your role in the relationship and how to find peace within yourself.
Realistic: Realistic goals are critical. While it may be theoretically possible for you to stop smoking this year, is it realistic? If you’re new to addiction recovery, maybe it isn’t realistic for you to quit smoking until you’re more stable in your recovery. Instead, you could set a goal to smoke 20% less than you currently do. Eventually, you’ll be able to quit smoking altogether, but there’s no need to add that pressure until you’re ready to handle it.
Timely: Set a goal that has a timeframe. How long will it take you to complete the goal? Keep this time limit short, maybe 1-3 months. Putting a time limit on your goal will keep you focused and motivated to push forward. At the end of the timeframe, you can reevaluate and set another goal.
What Types of Goals Should You Set in Addiction Recovery?
The goals you set during addiction treatment can be driven by what you’re learning in therapy. For example, some people need to work on stress control. Others are focused on minimizing the impact of negative thoughts from past trauma. You may need to work on eating healthy to help your body to recover from the damage.
Consider these five short-term goals that may work for you during early addiction recovery.
#1: Commit to Quiet Time Each Day
Incorporate some kind of quiet time into your day where you can either relax or reflect on the day. For example, you may wish to meditate for 10-20 minutes. You may wish to spend that time journaling about your life or experiences. You may find a private space and listen to music for a while. Choose something that’s meaningful to you and brings you happiness, peace, and contentment.
#2: Maintain Your Health Each Day
During addiction recovery, one of the most common triggers for relapse is lack of self-care. Healthy eating, regular exercise, good sleep, and work/life balance are crucial to sustaining sobriety. If these are key areas where you struggle, set a goal related to achieving balance. Make sure it is attainable and measurable!
#3: Attend Recovery Meetings Regularly
Life is going to get busy when you step back into it after drug and alcohol treatment. As busy as it is, you still need to actively work towards recovery and long-term sobriety. To do that, you need meetings. Make it a goal to attend meetings or to get some type of recovery therapy each week. Activities could include:
- Talking to your mentor
- Seeing your therapist once a week
- Going to a community recovery meeting
- Seeking out a local support group for mental health needs
- Turning to a 12-step group therapy session
- Make it attainable – something you can actually do each week.
#4: Commit to Fostering Relationships
Addiction thrives on isolation. While you can’t set goals that require action from someone else, you can set a goal to put in the time and effort to foster your friendships and relationships. As the saying goes, “you are 100% responsible for 50% of the relationship.” You can set goals to reach your 100% by offering to set aside time every day to connect, even if briefly. You can resolve to reach out to someone at your support group. If you’re a parent, you can commit to spending quality time with your kids every week.
#5: Commit to Taking a Step Toward Achieving Something of Value to You
Only you know what lifelong dream you’ve been harboring. Maybe you want to learn French. Maybe you want to build a canoe. Maybe you want to get your master’s degree or earn your black belt. These are big goals that will take time to achieve, so make a list of the small steps you can take to get started. No matter how long it takes you, knowing that you’re working toward a dream can give you something to look forward to and fill your life with a sense of purpose.
Work with Your Drug and Alcohol Treatment Therapist
To achieve your goals, don’t try to go it alone. Use your recovery support network, your therapist, your friends, and your family members to help keep you accountable and encouraged. DK Solutions Group offers recovery mentoring for exactly these kinds of situations. We can help you set and achieve your recovery goals and stay on the path to a healthy and happy year.