Wouldn’t it be easier if there were a standard list of goals for everyone in recovery? You could be handed a pre-written to-do list and simply check off the boxes as you complete them. Alas, recovery is as unique a process as addiction itself. Each person has to decide which goals are best for them, and that extends to deciding to revise your goals to make them work better. Here’s how to start.
What’s the Difference Between Short-Term and Long-Term Goals?
How short is a short-term goal? Short-term goals are usually tasks you want to achieve in the next few days or few weeks. For instance, you may commit to exercising at least three times a week or to trying a new hobby in the upcoming month. You may decide you want to try meditation for five minutes a day. Pick something that you can do quickly and get rapid results that will encourage you to continue either working towards the goal or encourage you to make more goals to achieve and give you a taste of success.
Long-term goals are usually accomplished over months or even years. Those are usually harder to attain and tend to be bigger life changes and bigger accomplishments. You may set a goal to go back to school which can take months or years. You may make a goal to become a substance abuse counselor in the next two years. Any goal that takes several months or years is considered a long-term goal.
What Factors Should I Consider?
When setting short- and long-term goals, consider your priorities. Not necessarily what’s important to your family or important to your counselor, but what goals mean the most to you. Are you wanting to recover financially? Are you wanting to build a new career? Repair your old relationships? These bigger goals won’t be accomplished in a day, but making your goals attainable and realistic will help you move forward in small steps and give you something to strive for.
How Can I Be SMART About My Goals?
There’s a special acronym for goal setting called SMART. It’s an abbreviation for setting goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. These are the keys to successful goal-setting and being able to reach those goals so you can move on to new ones. You want to make sure you’re very specific when setting a goal. For example, “when I am 12 months into recovery, I went to become available as a sponsor.” Or “I want to meditate five minutes per day five times a week.” These goals are specific.
Make your goals measurable. Instead of saying something vague like “I want to lose weight and become healthier,” set a goal to lose 20 pounds in six months. That’s measurable and you can keep track of your progress.
Your goals must be attainable. Goals that are impossible to reach will set you up for failure and depression. If you sang in the choir or at a few live band gigs, it’s probably not realistic to set a goal of winning a reality singing competition in one year. That’s probably not going to happen and therefore is not an attainable goal.
Make sure your goals are relevant to your recovery. While something like winning a singing competition may give you more confidence and self-esteem, it’s probably not directly related to your recovery.
Lastly, make sure it’s time-bound and you have a time limit to achieve that goal. If there is no time limit, it’s much easier to put it off working on your goals because you don’t have a deadline. A looming deadline demands action and accountability. Give yourself adequate time but set a deadline to accomplish that goal.
What if My Goals Aren’t Working?
There are many reasons why goals may not be working for you. Maybe you chose something unrealistic or you didn’t give yourself a time limit and you need to adapt to a more realistic idea of what you’re capable of accomplishing. Try reworking your goals using the SMART approach.
Another possibility is that you let too many people influence you when you’re setting goals, and they’re not your goals anymore. When they’re not your goals you aren’t going to be as motivated to accomplish them. It’s time to block out all those other voices and listen to your own.
Maybe you weren’t motivated to accomplish the goals you set or you need to break down bigger goals into smaller steps. Instead of having a goal like “I will finish college in one year by taking a huge course load,” break it down into something simpler like taking classes part-time next semester. Taking a couple of part-time classes every semester is more manageable than trying to take on the stress and responsibility of trying to earn a degree in a year, which could compromise your recovery.
You’re the captain of the ship, and you can steer it in the right direction or fall asleep at the wheel. The goals you set in recovery should be unique to you and may not be the same as others recovering from substance abuse or mental disorders. Use the SMART approach for goal-setting to make sure you set goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Here at Everlast Recovery Center, we not only help you with detoxification and recovery but also follow up with aftercare programs for substance abuse disorders. We also treat co-occurring mental health issues. We can help you set goals for your recovery at our Riverside, CA, facility and help you achieve success in recovery with our counseling and additional therapy services, such as yoga or art therapy. Let us help you get your life back on track. Call us for help at (866) 338-6925.