Often an overlooked factor in one’s life, especially the older one gets, is continuing to set and work toward achieving goals. For recovering addicts, learning how to set realistic goals, both short and long-term, is key to the success of their recovery. If the recovering addict sought treatment, she likely had to set some goals to complete while both in treatment and for when treatment was completed.
Now on her own, she must adapt new strategies and incorporate the knowledge she gained on how to set achievable yet challenging goals. The idea is to set realistic goals, which are not setting the addict up for failure, but goals that will challenge them both mentally and physically. Short term goals are just as important to long term goals and could be the foundation to accomplishing one’s dreams.
Why is Setting and Achieving Goals in Recovery Important?
Sobriety is a long and difficult road, with many triumphs, struggles and failures. Like any other life changing event, recovery is a process that takes practice and constant adjusting or tweaking to find out what areas need improvement. By setting goals, whether they are short term or long term, helps the recovering addict in numerous ways, which are included in the following:
- Stay on track
- Know what to expect
- Reference, when struggling
Often times, recovering addicts can find themselves struggling with the choices they made because it took them in an unwanted direction. Some of these choices may even have taken them to familiar places where they used without thought and found themselves in a full-blow relapse. By having goals, no matter how small, they can help anyone remember the path to follow. Because addiction is a disease, it takes time to heal from it but even once the healing is completed, there are triggers that can cause one to veer off path.
While in treatment, addicts often have no idea what to expect. Yes they were informed of what classes or workshops were available but knowing how they would handle them emotionally was like a roller coaster to them. With goals set, recovering addicts know what is expected of them and what steps they need to accomplish them. There will always be unexpected events that occur or a sudden change in plans, but when recovering addicts recall their goals and base their decisions off of them, they are better equipped to make healthy choices.
Some recovering addicts write their goals down in journals, some place them on their fridges and others carry them around on note cards in their wallets. No matter where you write your goals, the importance of them is knowing that they are truly reachable if you try. Everyone makes wrong decisions in life, it is part of being human, and messing up comes with the territory so being able to have a reference or reminder of your goals is important, especially during times of struggle. Included in the following are some examples of short term and long term goals:
- Finding a job
- Attending at least two meetings per month
- Independent living
- Purchasing a home
Due to the recovering addict’s past and likelihood that her addiction impacted her employment, she may not be able to immediately transition into a job after treatment. Recovering addicts who have a criminal history may also find it more difficult to find a job. Employment can help an individual start to payback her debts, both to corporations and loved ones; gain independence by being able to provide for herself; and gain confidence.
Attending meetings or counseling sessions is important for recovering addicts, especially during the early stages of recovery. By setting a goal to attend a certain amount of sessions or classes per month, they are making their health, both mental and physical, a priority. This could also help them build a solid support system of peers who understand their struggles and support their new lifestyle change.
Maybe due to a lack of money, job and legal issues, the recovering addict had to move in with a roommate or maybe she lost her home and now needs to live with family. Independence is highly valued yet often taken for granted among today’s society. Although the new environment is nurturing and healthy for the recovering addict, maybe she still desires to be fully on her own; so to achieve this she can learn how to budget her money, build a career and regain the confidence to take charge of her life.