Setting goals can be an important tool for recovery. Setting realistic, concrete goals increases accountability and gives you a sense of purpose. Whether you’re already in recovery, or still thinking about it, setting goals for yourself can help you live a better life.
First, keep in mind there are really two types of goals. There are goals that are meant to achieve something specific, or terminal goals, and there there are ongoing, process goals. A terminal goal is something you work toward and achieve, whereas a process goal is something you just keep doing. For example, you might set a goal to get sober by the end of the month. That is a clear, achievable goal with a specific time frame. Once you’ve achieved that goal, there’s no reason to keep working on it. You can’t keep detoxing after you’ve detoxed.
A process goal is one you renew every day. The big one is, “Today, I’m not going to use.” There are many process goals that can support this one, such as, “Today, I will go to a meeting, work the steps, and exercise.” Although these may change over time, there’s no point at which they are complete. They are important, though, and worth committing to just like terminal goals.
Your goals can relate directly to recovery or they can be about other parts of life. Both help you stay sober. A common goal for newly sober people is to attend 90 meetings in 90 days. Again, this is achievable, concrete, and time-limited. When you write down a goal like this, you feel more committed to following through. You won’t feel like going to meetings every day, but if you have set this goal, you are more likely to show up anyway.
Setting goals for other areas of your life also helps recovery. For one thing, achieving goals creates a dopamine response. In a sense, you are replacing a harmful addiction with the kind of purposeful action dopamine is meant to reinforce. You feel good even achieving small goals. In fact, setting and achieving many small goals may have a more positive impact than setting and achieving a few big ones.
What’s more, goals give you a sense of positive direction. For example, if you make a goal of completing a 5k race in three months, you will be focused on exercising every day and eating healthier. Many people find it’s easier to stay on track when they focus on getting what they do want instead of avoiding what they don’t want.
Smarmore Castle Private Clinic in County Louth, near Dublin was founded in 1988 as a residential rehabilitation hospital treating people suffering from drug and alcohol purposes. Smarmore Castle believes in helping patients lead a life of abstinence through 12 Step programs, detox and medical treatment, psychotherapy, and complementary therapies. For more information, please call 041-214-5111. For those who live out of the country, the international number is 00353-41-214-5111.