Set Effective Goals for Your Recovery

March 19, 2014

If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”

This famous quote can easily be applied to addiction. Have you tried over and over again to get clean, only to find yourself continuing to slip back into your behaviors and patterns? If the answer is yes, then maybe you should look at your approach to recovery.

One of the main things we focus on in treatment is the decision to make positive changes and then the goals that will help you get there. Goals help you prioritize, achieve your aspirations, augment your motivation for growth and enhance confidence and self worth. Thus, goal setting is an essential process for your well being.

What Are Goals?

Goals are well-formulated, specific, realistic, measured objectives that when accomplished, help us attain our dreams and aspirations. Goals can be dichotomized as either short-term or long-term. Short-term goals are achievable within a brief period of time and long-term goals are attainable within a longer time frame, typically 3-6 months and longer.

To set up goals you should follow this process:

  1. Construct effective goal statements.
  2. Break down goals into manageable steps.
  3. Review and re-evaluate your progress.
When constructing a house, a solid foundation is paramount to build upon. Your goals require solid foundation, too. When setting goals, we should be S.M.A.R.T. This acronym helps develop goal statements that are:

Therefore, goal statements should be specific enough so we know what we are aiming for, measurable so we can determine our progress, action-oriented so we know what behaviors to enact, realistic so that they are practical and within our capability to fulfill and time-bound so we have a target time of completion.

For instance, instead of stating, “My goal is not to feel so down,” or, “My goal is never to crave drugs again,” we can say, “For the next two weeks, when I feel depressed I will write down what I’m feeling in my journal,” (this is a short-term goal) or, “My goal is to work a recovery program for six months, since I have a tendency to relapse after five months of sobriety,” this is a long-term goal.

Notice that the latter examples not only reflect the qualities of S.M.A.R.T., but they also focus on the presence of positive, healthy behaviors, rather than the absence of negative behaviors. These techniques increase your chances of goal achievement.

What are some of your goals you are working toward? Are they S.M.A.R.T. goals or do you need to reevaluate them?

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