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How to Set Goals in Recovery (4 Simple Steps!)

Goal setting is an important step in not only rebuilding your life after years of substance use, but also in moving towards the direction of your lifelong dreams. Here are 4 simple steps to help you on get there. You got this! 

1. Identify where you want to go and the deeper reason why you want to get there

You need to be intrinsically motivated to pursue this goal. You have to want it for your own reasons. Do a bit of self-reflection to understand your motivators. Be curious about yourself and ask “Why?” multiple times to get to the deeper reasoning.

2. List the key steps and behaviors it takes to get there

Break your larger goal down into smaller sub-goals. When you create an ambitious goal, it’s easy to get intimidated. You might feel like it’s impossible to get there. Focus first on a closer-in goal to make it feel less daunting. Ask yourself: 1hat does “putting in the work” towards your goal look like? What do you need to do on a daily and weekly basis? Be specific with this. Not just the what, but the how you will do it.

3. Take small steps towards your goal by creating a changes to your daily routine

Without a routine, it’s very hard to be consistent. You’ll end up wasting time and energy debating what to do. There’s no need to reinvent your approach every week. Instead, focus on creating a solid habit of work towards your goal. It will eliminate decision fatigue in your day-to-day, saving your energy for doing the work!

Once you get a new routine up and running, all you have to do is follow through. You’ll know what to do, so it’s easier to go and do it! The hardest part of building a new habit is the first handful of weeks. On average, it takes about two months to build a true habit.

4. Focus on what you can control & seek support from your peers!

It’s easy to get discouraged when chasing something new. It might take longer to reach your goal than you thought. The tough reality is that you can’t always control the results of your work. But you can control the effort you put in!

Focus your energy on the process. Did you do what you told yourself you would do? Are you following the routine you set in place? If so, you’re doing what you committed to. You should be proud of that fact!

Social pressure is a great motivator. Find a friend or family member to help you with your goal. They could have the same goal as you, or they could be more of an observer/coach. Share your goal and plan with them. Get them to agree to hold you accountable for putting in the work towards your goal.