Goals can be important for individuals in addiction recovery for a number of reasons including:
Short term goals as milestones provide direction and targets to aim for.
Setting a goal means accepting accountability and looking for a path to achieve it.
Having a goal provides motivation to get tasks done that are useful in reaching that goal. It also provides a reason to work harder to get what you know can be achieved with time.
There is a great deal of joy when a goal is achieved. It brings increased self-esteem and confidence that is helpful in setting the new goal.
The lack of having a goal may put any progress in serious jeopardy. The reason for this is because personal growth most often occurs when people challenge themselves.
Goals provide a clear path for moving forward and reduce the chance of falling into a boring routine in the daily life. Boredom is dangerous for someone in recovery because it can easily lead to relapse.
Goals provide the patience for staying on course for recovery. Recovery is often described as a process and not an event.
Setting realistic goals allow recovering individuals to establish a new sense of purpose in their life. As their life after recovery is often very different from what they have been used to, which requires some adjusting to.
Goal Setting and SMART
SMART is a useful mnemonic that provides people with guidance for how to set more effective goals. It suggests that goals should be:
Specific – this means that the goal needs to be clear and unambiguous. For example, I want to lose 2kg is better than I want to lose weight.
Measurable – a goal needs to be measurable in order to decide if progress is being made.
Attainable – the goal needs to be realistic and achievable.
Relevant – there has to be a good reason for achieving the goal. This is particularly important if it requires the input of other people.
Timely – this means that it can be achieved within a timeframe
The mnemonic SMARTER goes on to add two more characteristics to effective goals: