We’ll just say it out loud: when you first enter addiction recovery, it’s often overwhelming. Everything is new and different. There’s a rush of emotions. Dealing with everything requires a different set of skills. But after about a month or so, you start to gain important clarity. And that’s when you can set goals for your recovery by design, not by reaction.
Do Goals Matter?
Yes, but only if you can commit to ones that matter to you. The American Psychological Association (APA) states that it takes willpower to not only set goals, but to see them through. How do you improve your willpower? By setting goals! Ahhhh! We’ll explain.
Willpower isn’t an unlimited resource. It’s like a muscle: it must be tended to and built up over time. This way, you have a “reserve,” so to speak, when you need it most. The APA says that “at its essence, willpower is the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.”
So when you achieve small, incremental goals that matter to you, you develop what’s called an internal locus of control: the belief that your behavior is guided by conscious decisions and actions. This reinforces your willpower, which in turn gives you the confidence to set larger smart, measurable goals and accomplish them.
In early recovery, practically every day is a demonstration of achieving important incremental goals and how they lead to greater results. So how can you take what you’ve learned so far and the willpower you’ve built to move forward with new plans and ideas?
One Goal at a Time
Once you’re committed to addiction recovery, there’s an immense urge to tackle it all. You feel better than ever, are proud of what you’ve done so far, and are ready to make the necessary changes to improve your life. Without a doubt, these are all good things.
It’s also important to remember that guiding point of Alcoholics Anonymous: “one day at a time.” This matters with goal-setting, too. There’s a reason why something as significant as making amends doesn’t occur until Step 9 of the 12-Step process: every benchmark along the way helps improve your willpower, build your resilience, and give you time to reconnect with values that guide your future.
Similarly, if you focus on one goal at a time, your chance of achievable success is much higher. In turn, this boosts your willpower to move on to other areas of life that matter.
The APA indicates three primary factors make goals a reality:
- “Establish motivation for change and set a clear goal.”
- “Monitor behavior working toward that goal.”
- “Exercise willpower to prepare for success.”
According to VeryWellMind, with these factors, your primary goal can be structured into SMART goal:
- Attainable or achievable
- Realistic or relevant
- Timely and tangible
SMART goals incorporate all the best elements of successful goal-setting that create a clearer path of accomplishment, such as writing them down, establishing a timeline, and building incremental benchmarks to acknowledge your progress.
Possible Goals of Continued Recovery
Your goals should be directly in line with your values and beliefs. This assures you won’t have to compromise your motivation or deplete your willpower to stay on target. So we offer this framework of goal suggestions only to spark ideas in your life as to how the future might develop.
Remember: goals need to be specific, so if any of the following catch your interest, outline in detail the steps that will help you move forward:
- Learn more about preventing relapse.
- Find better ways to cope with cravings.
- Quit smoking, vaping, or chewing.
- Reduce sugar intake and simple or “bad” carbohydrates.
- Consider more ways to benefit from self-care.
- Stick to a more whole-food diet.
- Explore different exercises.
- Improve financial management.
- Develop more meaningful routines and rituals to improve well-being.
- Research other therapeutic methods.
- Try another recovery support group.
- Ask for help improving life skills.
- Take a class in a new hobby.
- Find new ways to enhance professional abilities.
- Continue to broaden sober social circles.
- Volunteer for a meaningful cause in the community.
- Become a sobriety mentor.
- Reestablish a relationship that matters to you.
- Discover new ways to express creativity.
- As you can see, there are many rich aspects of life that allow you to not only uncover new opportunities, but also reinforce how being free from addiction expands possibilities.
How Can We Help You?
You’re never alone on your recovery journey. Even if you or a loved one hasn’t been a client of Willingway’s inpatient rehabilitation services or outpatient programs, you can count on us to help you create a future of joy and promise. Please stop by one of our community care groups to talk about goals that are important to you and meet other people on the same road who can lend a hand.