As 2020 comes to a close, the start of a new year can be a great time to reflect on what is most important to you. Many people use the new year as a starting point to make significant changes in their lives. Creating goals to work towards can help you stay engaged in life and once you have achieved them, provide you with a sense of pride and accomplishment. Identifying what your priorities are can help you create goals that are important to you and make it more likely that you will follow through on them. Once you have chosen your areas of focus, creating realistic, achievable goals can help you find meaning moving forward into the new year.
How to Set Effective Goals
The idea of setting a goal may seem simple, but without full consideration, you may inadvertently set yourself up for failure. Goals can be something as simple as wanting to exercise more or save more money but making them too broad without a specific outcome in mind can make achieving it a daunting task. If you do not create guidelines when setting up a goal, you are less likely to do it. Once you have an idea of what you would like to work towards, you can use the “SMART” outline to help you create a plan of action.
While there are many approaches to goal setting, SMART works well because it helps you think through every aspect of your goal. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
- Specific: While you may have a general idea about what types of goals you want to set, they should be specific in order to improve the likelihood of success. Like mentioned before, getting more active or saving more money are common goals, but they are broad. Instead, create more specific goals related to what you are interested in achieving. Creating a goal of working out 3 times a week is more effective than simply stating you want to become more active. This gives you a clearly defined goal to work towards.
- Measurable: In addition to being specific, your goal should be something you can measure or track. Again, a vague goal will make it harder to stay motivated as there is not a definitive thing to work towards. For example, if your goal is to save money, setting a goal of saving a specific dollar amount by a particular date is something you can easily track and verify over time.
- Attainable: While you may have your sights set on big goals, it is important to make sure they are realistic. You can have an overall significant goal, but instead of going straight for it, consider breaking it up into smaller, more achievable goals. You should factor in the amount of time and resources you can dedicate to your goal as well. Smaller goals can be celebrated as milestones and be a source of encouragement to keep pursuing your ultimate goal.
- Relevant: Goals without purpose are hard to stay motivated about. Setting goals that are not relevant to your current situation can be harder to follow through on. This is especially true when considering goals that are more ideological than applicable to your life. For example, learning a new form of art, dance, or language may be a fun goal to work towards, but depending on the amount of time and work needed to accomplish it, it may not be the easiest goal to stick with. You may even want to consider saving some goals for another period of time.
- Time-bound: Goals evolve and change with time and you will always find something new to work towards. Make sure the goal you are setting is something you can manage effectively and if it is something you can achieve within the amount of time you have allotted. A timeline can help keep you on track, but it should also be realistic. Do not inadvertently set yourself up for failure by creating an unrealistic timeline.
Setting Goals in Recovery
Goals are an important aspect of recovery from addiction too. The overall goal of addiction treatment is to achieve sobriety, but there are numerous goals you can set along the way to improve your physical and mental health. Setting goals can help you find a new sense of purpose in life and make recovery easier to stick with.
When creating goals, it is important to consider what will be the most beneficial to your recovery. While there is always the big picture goal of achieving sobriety, obtaining happiness, and feeling fulfilled, these ideas can be too broad to be actionable on their own. Instead, consider what actions you can take to work towards those outcomes. Some areas of life you can focus on may include:
- Physical health
- Mental health
- Lifestyle choices
There are countless aspects of life you can address, and it can easily become overwhelming if you create too many goals. Narrow down the list by finding what will be the most impactful for your health. In addiction recovery, goals centered around physical health and mental health are often prioritized because they can have the biggest impact on your quality of life. You can use the SMART method to create achievable goals that will not only improve recovery outcomes but also improve your overall quality of life.
Your priorities and focus will evolve over time. This may cause your goals to change as well. Your goals should neither be too easy nor too hard. It is important to not set yourself up for failure or assign yourself goals that make it difficult to stay motivated. Life will not always align with your goals making it especially important to give yourself time and space to adapt to your changing needs. Your goals are not any more or less valuable based on how much time it took to achieve them.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, we are here to help. Give us a call at 310.403.1032 or send us a message below and one of our admissions counselors will do their best to get you the help you need.