It is often said that addiction recovery is not an act but a process. This is true and one thing to remember is that this process is long and everlasting. Real recovery takes place after you are out of rehab centre and have to rebuild your life, relationship, and meaning.
One important tool in addiction recovery is goal setting. Goal setting helps in getting clarity about life after rehab. You might be curious about why and how to set these goals? Let us jump onto these questions.
Why Set Goals?
- Setting goals help bring certainty and stability into life and relieves one from the stress and anxiety that uncertainty brings.
- Goals provide a sense of purpose and help in building good habits.
- Goals result in the productive use of time, which boosts the self-confidence and self-esteem of a person. This is crucial for a person after coming out of a rehab centre.
- Goal setting involves tracking the progress of a goal. This retrospective analysis helps identify areas that require more work and this significantly increases the chances of succeeding.
- Boredom is kept at bay because of goal setting. This is important because boredom increases the chance of relapse. Therefore, goal setting is a crucial part of addiction recovery.
What Kind of Goals should be Set?
- Goals should be set keeping in mind the likings, strengths, and weaknesses of the subject. This keeps the interest in goals alive and enhances the chances of them being achieved.
- Goals should be such that they cover various important aspects of one’s life. These can include financial goals and improvement in social life, physical health, and mental well-being.
- Goals should be attainable; otherwise, the person might get discouraged and relapse into addiction. Following the S.M.A.R.T. acronym while setting goals is recommended in this regard.
How to Set Goals and Achieve Them?
- Follow the S.M.A.R.T. acronym to set goals:
- Specific: Make sure to set specific goals. For example, instead of setting the goal of “looking after your health,” try to “go for a walk daily.”
- Measurable: Goals should be quantifiable. Instead of “gaining strength” as a goal, go for “50 push-ups today.” Narrowing down the goals to quantities helps in tracking progress effectively.
- Attainable: Don’t set yourself up for failure. Set goals that are attainable. For example, instead of “I will not get upset”, try to “write down thoughts in the journal when upset.”
- Relevant: Goals should be relevant, which means there should be a good reason behind choosing them, and they should directly benefit you. Your goal after rehab should not be “to become the President” but to perhaps develop a reading habit. But break it down to reading five pages a day or whatever is comfortable and quantifiable
- Time-Bound: All the goals should have a time limit attached to them so that it becomes easy to work towards them.
- Goals should be divided into long-term and short-term goals. Long-term goals could be mental and physical well-being. Short-term goals could be tasks, which help progress towards those bigger goals. For example, writing a journal or exercising regularly. Plan for the day, week or month, instead of six months or one year.
- It is wise to narrow down big goals into smaller achievable tasks for clarity. Smaller tasks are easier to manage and don’t give the anxiety of finishing with difficulty. Rather they boost confidence and give the courage to set more difficult goals.
- Don’t set goals that are intended to pleasing or satisfying others. Focus on being self-confident and being ok with not seeking external validation. Exercise not to impress others but because it is good for you and your overall well-being. The source of joy should be inside you, not outside.
- Set goals which interest you so that it does not become a boring process. If you like football, play football instead of going to the gym.
Finally, remember that adjustments could be made to these goals. Re-evaluate and review your progress and process, but don’t let yourself go down. Sometimes, you may face failures and, in those moments, it is important to celebrate good things in life. Change your goals if they are giving too much trouble, but work harder on the newer ones. The result is not important but the effort.
This blog was reviewed by Ms. Shraddha Banerjee (B.sc (Gold Medalist), M.Sc, M.Phil), RCI Licenced Clinical Psychologist at Safe House Premium. She has been writing articles on Mental Illness in Dainik Bhaskar. With expertise in substance-related, neurotic, sexual, and stress-based disorders among young adults, Ms. Banerjee forms an integral part of the support system for individuals healing from addictions of various natures.