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Setting Goals and Getting Things Done in Recovery


One of the great benefits of breaking away from addiction is that it means the person can now move their life in whichever direction they want it to move. Overcoming their substance abuse will usually give them a major confidence boost and they can use this to motivate them to get things done. Staying sober should always be the priority though, and it is vital that these people never allow their goals to get in the way of this.

The Importance of Having Goals in Recovery

A life without goals will usually be one where not much gets done. It is important that we have things to aim for in life because otherwise we can just stagnate. Those of us who have broken away from addiction will need goals because it is usually the case that if we are not moving forward in our life, we will be backsliding. If you have gone to all the trouble of breaking away from addiction then you will likely have done this in order to live a better life. The way you achieve this better life is by setting yourself goals and achieving them. There are a number of important reasons why setting goals is important in recovery, including:

  • the more you achieve in your new sober life, the more you will cherish it
  • it allows you to slowly overcome the character flaws that made you susceptible to addiction in the first place
  • it keeps life exciting
  • the process of achieving a goal can be as rewarding as the goal itself
  • it is by the process of goal setting that people can improve their life
  • it can mean that individuals in recovery can achieve some remarkable things
  • it builds self-esteem and self-efficacy
  • it is good for mental health.

Risks Associated With Goal Setting

Goal setting can backfire on people in recovery if they go about it the wrong way though. It can even be used by the individual to sabotage their own sobriety – they are looking for an excuse to relapse, so they set themselves unrealistic goals. The way to avoid the risk of goal setting is to have ambitious goals but to make sure that they are realistic. It is also vital that individuals never set themselves any goal that is going to get in the way of recovery. So long as they remain sober, they will already be winning in life, but if they lose this, they will risk losing everything. So staying free of alcohol and drugs needs to be the priority.

The Difference between Goal Orientated and Process Orientated

When people are goal-orientated, it means that they set themselves goals and they put all of their energy into achieving these goals. This type of attitude means that the individual will tend to look upon the path towards the goal as just being in the way. All they really care about is getting past the obstacles that are in the way of them so they can be happy. The problem with this approach is that the amount of time they spend working towards goals accounts for most of their life, while the time they spend actually achieving this goal is just a tiny fraction of their life. This means that the person spends most of their time waiting for something better happening rather than appreciating what they already have.

A process-orientated approach to life can be described as when people set themselves a goal but they learn to appreciate the process of achieving this ambition. This is very beneficial because it is the process part that accounts for most of our life. The most amazing thing is that the path towards the goal will usually be far more rewarding than the goal itself. Even if the person fails to ever achieve their ambition, it is no big deal because they will already have benefited from the process. It also means that the person is able to enjoy what they have now rather than always waiting to get over the next hill.

The Importance of Failure

When people in recovery fail at something, they can take the news very badly – they may even use it as an excuse to give up or to return to addiction. What these people fail to appreciate is that failure is a necessary part of the process of achieving anything – it is how we learn. If we are not prepared to allow ourselves to fail in life, we will never be able to achieve anything of significance. It is also important to keep in mind that the only time that we really fail is when we decide to give up.

Failure is important because it tells us what does not work. If we have a tenacious attitude, this type of event can actually work to increase our motivation. We pick ourselves up and we approach the goal with a new determination. This is how people become successful and all success stories involve a history of failures. It is all about perspective, and it is those people who roll over when they face failure that will tend to live a mediocre life.

Importance of Setting Realistic Goals

People in recovery are at risk of two major problems when they set goals – they either overestimate their abilities or underestimate them. Most of us will be able to accomplish far more than we even dared to imagine, but if we bite off more than we can chew it can easily lead to a situation where we lose our confidence and just give up. As already mentioned above, there will be some people who set themselves unrealistic goals so that they have an excuse to relapse. The common way that this happens is that people expect their life to be perfect straight after giving up addiction. Setting realistic goals is not about underselling yourself – once you achieve this goal, you will then be able to aim a little higher.

Setting Small Goals as a Path to Bigger Goals

One of the risks with setting big goals is that it is easy to feel overwhelmed. It makes far more sense to cut big goals into smaller ones. The benefit of doing this is that things will feel far more manageable and once the person achieves one of the small goals, it will give their motivation a boost so they are better able to achieve the next target. By this process, the person is able to achieve a large goal without ever feeling overwhelmed.

Demand Resistance and Setting Goals

It is common for people who have been dealing with addiction to develop demand resistance. This means that they react to any demands that are placed on them by automatically rebelling – this can even apply to their own demands. This type of behaviour is believed to occur because people were faced with unrealistic demands as a child and they learned to cope by resisting all demands. It is vital that individuals are aware if they are dealing with demand resistance because it can mean that they will be constantly sabotaging their own goal setting efforts. Demand resistance is much easier to deal with when it is acknowledged.

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