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Goal Setting in Recovery

With 2021 now here, many of us are making resolutions for the months ahead – resolutions that might involve becoming better, healthier, stronger, smarter, more stable versions of ourselves. For those in addiction recovery, the start of the new year can be a great opportunity to create personal goals for the days, months, and years ahead.

Addicts in recovery need direction. Setting goals, and taking actions in alignment with achieving those goals is a great way to stay focused in recovery. Going after specific goals gives the addict a sense of direction and purpose. For long term recovery to be successful, having purpose in life is a top priority. Setting the right goals can help you direct your energy in the right way. 

Even if it’s not the start of a new year doesn’t mean you cannot be mindful of your own personal goals and take actions to achieve them. Goals are defined as specific, realistic, carefully considered and measured objectives that we want to experience. 

Here are some tips for goal setting:

Use the SMART method to set your goals. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. A SMART goal is one that has a specified objective, you can measure it in some way, it’s realistic and attainable within a certain time frame. 

Specific – Clearly defined or identified

Measurable – Something that can be quantified 

Achievable – Able to be brought about or reached successfully

Realistic –  Sensible or practical

Timely – Achieved in a specific amount of time 

Setting SMART goals can help you clarify your ideas, focus your efforts, use your time and resources efficiently, and increase your chances of achieving what you want in life. Here are some questions to consider when you are setting SMART goals:

Specific – What do I want to accomplish? Why is this important to me?

Measurable – How will I measure that I have accomplished this goal?

Achievable – How achievable is this goal?

Realistic – How realistic is this goal for me to reach considering other factors (time, resources, finances)?

Timely – What is the realistic timeframe that I can achieve this goal?

The benefits of SMART goals are to help set goals that can provide clarity, focus on motivation. SMART goals are not designed to be restrictive but to provide a framework to achieve your goals. 

Set goals in different areas of your life. Here are some recommended areas in life to set goals for:

  • Career goals
  • Financial goals
  • Relationship goals
  • Personal growth goals 
  • Health goals

Career goals are defined as specific objectives that one wants to pursue throughout his or her professional employment career. It’s important to have career goals that allow you to grow professionally and personally. When setting this type of goal you’ll want to consider what you’d like to actually achieve and the time you want to achieve this goal. An example of a career goal could be to receive a promotion within 1-2 years at your company. 

Financial goals are defined as personal objectives for how you’ll spend money and save it for the future. You’ll want to consider your current career goals (i.e. monthly income) and long term objectives like buying a home, saving for children’s college, traveling, or money for retirement.  Examples of financial goals are to pay off credit card or student loan debt, to save for emergencies, or to stick to a monthly spending budget. 

Relationship goals are defined as mutual value or outcome that you share with others you are in relationship with. You can have goals for your relationships with your family, friends and a romantic partner. Relationship goals are more about what you want to experience together in the dynamic of a relationship. 

Personal growth goals are defined as objectives you set to improve your character, skills and capabilities. Setting these types of goals involves having an honest self inventory of what you’d like to improve about yourself. Some examples of personal growth goals are to be a better listener, to be more creative, to let go of past resentments, to practice more compassion, learn a new skill or anything else that comes to mind that you’d like to experience. 

Health goals are defined as objectives to improve your overall well being. Most people generally think of health goals as losing weight, but health goals encompass so much more than that. Achieving and maintaining optimal health is about integrating more self care into your life, staying on top of your emotional and mental health. We recently wrote an article on self care practices you can start today. Click here to read the full article on self care. 

Make goals that are in alignment with your personal values. A personal value system is a set of principles or ideas that drive or guide your behavior. Personal values give structure and purpose to life to determine what is meaningful and important to you. If you don’t value something, you wont make the effort for it. Our day to day actions are driven by our value systems so if our goals are not aligned with our personal values, they will fall flat. Before you set a goal, it’s best to understand what your value system is, and ask yourself if your goal is aligned with your personal values. 

Consistently evaluate your goals and don’t be too hard on yourself. If you are beginning your recovery journey, goal setting is probably the last thing you are worried about. Staying sober day to day is enough, however it’s encouraged to set small goals that you can easily achieve because it can give you a sense of direction.

Goal setting is not to set yourself up for failure, but rather to have a positive objective to focus on. If you are finding that your goal is overwhelming or you are being hard on yourself for not measuring up, it’s time to re-evaluate your goal. 

You can ask some questions to determine if you need to change your goal. Is your goal a SMART goal? Does it align with your personal values? Is this goal something you really want, or just what you think you want? Are you trying to achieve too many goals at once?

Asking the above questions can help evaluate if the goal you set is the right goal for you at this time. Just because you aren’t hitting a goal, that doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you. It could be that you’ve set too many goals, or your goal is not achievable at this time. 

Continue to work on your goals that feel aligned for you, and allow yourself to reconsider the goals that you aren’t currently hitting. It’s normal to constantly evaluate your goals, and make changes as necessary. 

We hope this article helped you.  If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, please give us a call at 1-866-UTAH-HOPE or click here for your free benefits review.