Most people find that it is easier to achieve things when they set themselves goals. This way they will have a clearer idea about what it is they are trying to achieve. When people are trapped in addiction their goals will revolve around getting drunk or high. This means that when they first become sober they can feel a bit purposeless. It will be important for them to establish new goals in sobriety that they can work towards.
Goal setting can be defined as a way be which the individual determines what they want to achieve and then devise a plan for achieving this. Once people have decided on their objective they can begin working towards it. They will be able to judge their own progress by assessing if they are any nearer their goal.
Goal setting in recovery is all about personal aspirations. Each individual will have their own ideas about what they want to achieve in life. There are some goals that may be of particular important to people in recovery such as:
* Overcoming the character flaws that made them susceptible to addiction in the first place – for example, impulsiveness and unwillingness to delay gratification.
* Building emotional sobriety so that they are able to feel their feelings. This means that they will lose the urge to escape from life and will therefore be less likely to relapse.
* Rebuilding relationships that have been damaged by addiction.
* Finding worthwhile things to do in life.
* Getting back all those things that were lost to addiction.
Goals can be important for people in recovery for a number of reasons including:
* If people have no idea about where they want to go it may mean that their life is a bit aimless. By setting a goal the individual will have something to aim for.
* By setting a goal it means that the individual is accepting some accountability for achieving it.
* It can be fun to work towards something.
* Having a goal keeps people motivated enough to accomplish things. They will be more willing to work hard when they know it is to achieve something later on.
* There can be a great deal of joy when people manage to achieve a goal. It also increases self-esteem and confidence.
* If people in recovery do not have goals they may find that their progress slows down. This is because personal growth most often occurs when people challenge themselves.
* Boredom is dangerous for people in recovery because it can easily lead to relapse. Those people who are working towards a goal are less likely to feel bored with life.
* Recovery is often described as a process and not an event. This means that the individual will have more goals to accomplish even after they have become sober.
* When people first become sober they will need to establish a new sense of purpose in their life. They will be able to achieve this by setting themselves some goals.
SMART is a useful mnemonic that provides people with guidance for how to set more effective goals. It suggests that goals should be:
* Specific – this means that the goal needs to be clear and unambiguous. For example, I want to lose 2kg is better than I want to lose weight.
* Measurable – a goal needs to be measurable in order to decide if progress is being made.
* Attainable – the goal needs to be realistic and achievable.
* Relevant – there has to be a good reason for achieving the goal. This is particularly important if it requires the input of other people.
* Timely – this means that it can be achieved within a timeframe
The mnemonic SMARTER goes on to add two more characteristics to effective goals:
It is usual for people to fail many times during the journey towards a goal. In some instances the goal will turn out to be unrealistic and the individual will have to go back to the drawing board. This type of failure is not necessarily such a bad thing so long as the individual put in the required effort and has gained knowledge from the experience. The only real failures in life are those people who give up trying. All the most successful people in the world will have experienced plenty of failure during their trip to the top. In fact it is not uncommon for these individuals to claim that it was failure that made them such a success – it motivated them to do better.
Setting goals is a good thing for people in recovery, but it is not a good idea to become too obsessed with these. There are said to be two ways of approaching this aspect of life; goal orientation and process orientation. When people are goal orientated their aim will be to achieve their ambitions in the quickest way possible. They will tend to view the process of getting to the goal as just something that is in the way. This is not really such a great attitude to have in life because people will spend most of their life in the process of achieving things rather than actually achieving them. Those people who are more process orientated will enjoy the journey to the goal almost as much as reaching the goal itself – this is a far healthier attitude to have.
When it comes to setting goals there are things that the individual can do to increase their chances of success such as:
* It is usually better to break up ambitious goals into smaller goals. That way the task will appear less daunting and the individual will be motivated each time they achieve a small goal to move onto the next target.
* If people set themselves goals that are too long-term they run the risk of becoming discouraged along the way. It is probably more effective to have weekly or even daily goals.
* The process of reaching a goal should never be set in stone. The individual should always be willing to make changes as necessary.
* It is usually not a good idea to set goals that involve changing other people’s views and behavior. The main focus in recovery should be the individual.
* The individual is far more likely to have success with achieving goals when it involves things that they actually want. Setting goals that are purely to satisfy other people is not the best approach.
* If people set goals for themselves that are unrealistic then they are setting themselves up for failure. It is good that people set the bar high but they should not give themselves an impossible task as this will just damage their self-esteem.
* The most successful entrepreneurs all admit that they relied on a team of skilled people. It can be unproductive for people to believe that they can do everything alone.
* It is not good for people to link their self-esteem with achieving goals too much. The individual is already a worthwhile human.
* Life in recovery is all about progress and not perfection. If the individual aims for perfection they are going to be constantly disappointed.
* Friends and family are more important than personal goals.
* Those people who are recovery from an addiction should always have sobriety as their number one priority. They should never do anything that will put their recovery in jeopardy.
* The individual needs to accept full responsibility for achieving their goals and avoid blaming other people when they face failure.
* Writing a goal down on paper seems to make people feel more accountable. It can also be a good idea to keep a journal that records the progress towards the goal.
* When it comes to achieving goals it is vital that people are motivated. If they do not have the right motivation they will be unlikely to put in sufficient effort.