How to Set Long and Short-Term Goals in Recovery

How to Set Long and Short-Term Goals in Recovery

Setting goals during your recovery can create structure and help you evaluate how you want to spend your time. Your short-term goals are just as important as your long-term goals. They help support your desired outcomes. Ideally, they’ll uplift your recovery plan, ensuring you stay on track no matter the challenges faced. The combination of your goals and recovery plan will guide you towards a healthy, satisfying life.

Knowing What You Want & Need

The first step to setting any type of goal is knowing what you want & need. How do you picture your life? What do you want in it, and what do you need in it? What do you want to avoid? How will you maintain your sobriety?

If you struggle to answer those questions, then it’s worth doing a mental visualization exercise to help you understand your goals. Close your eyes and imagine your perfect world. Who is in that world with you, and what activities do you enjoy? Where do you live? How do you make a living?

If visualization doesn’t help, you can make lists of things that bring you joy, people who support you, and your values. There is no wrong or right way to brainstorm as long as you stay focused on discovering what brings you joy and what you need to have a successful recovery.

Brainstorming Long-Term Goals

You need to think realistically when you’re turning your wants into goals. Your desires may reach the stars, but your goals should not be larger than life. Once you make a list of your ideals, turn them into actionable, achievable goals. To optimize the outcome, you should follow the SMART approach. Ensure each long-term goal is specific, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.

Prioritize your goals by evaluating what’s most important to you and what’s realistic. You might set goals like reconnecting with an old family member or friend, obtaining consistent work, or conquering a phobia. Some goals will take longer than others to complete. As long as you’re honest with yourself about the effort and time involved, it’s completely okay to include longer long-term goals.

Working Backwards to Set Short-Term Goals

Work backward from the list of your long-term goals to create short-term goals. The last short-term goal you set, should be your first step towards achieving your long-term goal and something that you can start immediately.

Here’s an example to give you a better understanding: if your long-term goal is repairing a relationship with your father, your first step might be writing an apology note or reaching out to set up a time to talk. It probably won’t immediately involve relying on your father for emotional support or laughing over your favorite movie. It will take time to get to a healthier place in your relationship.

The Building Blocks of Goal Setting

Each short-term goal on your list must be related to a long-term goal. Think about how each short-term goal builds upon one another. You can’t write a best-selling novel without first knowing how to spell, and you can’t become an Olympic gymnast without walking first.

The number of steps you have between your first short-term goal and the end goal will vary. Ideally, you should have enough short-term goals that you always know what the next step is. Some people might be more detailed with their short-term goals, and others might want to keep things simple so they don’t get overwhelmed.

Re-evaluate your goals every couple of months so you can evaluate your progress and adjust accordingly. Your short-term goals need to be flexible because you never know what life is going to throw at you. Plus, you might even find a more proactive way to achieve the same goal.

Working With Others

It’s not easy to always know the right next step towards achieving your goals. Talking to someone about your goals can help you understand what is possible. Work with your mental health professional to create a goal chart that will suit where you currently are in your recovery. You don’t want to overestimate yourself and take on too much, but you also don’t want to underestimate yourself and limit your goals. Your mental health professional can help keep emotionally balanced as you take steps towards your goals.

If you’re struggling with setting your goals you can try chatting with your peers to see how they’ve set up their goals. You might become inspired or realize that their way of setting goals doesn’t fit your needs. If your goals are career-oriented, it might be worth chatting with someone in your field to get a better sense of how people in the past achieved the long-term goal you’re aiming for.

It’s easy to become frustrated on your recovery journey when you can’t meet your goals. Roadblocks can create emotional distress. Setting SMART goals will help you change toxic behaviors and beliefs that block your recovery. Restoration Recovery Center wants you to achieve a relapse-free recovery. Our mental health professionals will work alongside you to build a treatment plan that matches your recovery needs. We’ll help you create healthy habits and behaviors that push you toward your long-term goals. We can teach you the necessary skills to mitigate your substance use symptoms. We will work with you on a personal level to help you find spirituality, rejuvenation, and a life purpose. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use please call Restoration Recovery Center at (888) 290-0925 to learn how you can achieve long-term sobriety through body and mind-focused treatments.

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