As the spring weather hits and summer is just a few months away, it’s a good time to take a look at where you are and where you would like to be. No longer is winter weather and short days stopping you from moving forward. Instead, you can focus on planning out what you would like to improve about your life in recovery and turning it into a reality. Here’s how.
You may want to travel the world, get your degree, learn three new languages, and start a new business, but if you are going to accomplish your goals, it is best to focus your efforts on one thing and see it through to completion.
In fact, if you have a very large goal that you would like to accomplish – like losing 100 pounds or acquiring your bachelor’s degree – it can be helpful to break it down into smaller milestones along the way. Getting bogged down or feeling as if the light at the end of the tunnel will never come can be disheartening and will likely mean that you will give up long before you achieve your goal.
Get a journal or notebook dedicated to nothing but tracking your progress on your goal. Start by writing out in explicit detail what it is that you would like to accomplish. The more time you spend writing out the things that are not working for you now and how you feel that accomplishing this goal will help you to change your trajectory, the better able you will be to commit to the process and set yourself up for success from the beginning.
Next, write out every single thing you will need to do to turn your goal into a reality. For example, if you have a vague goal of improving your recovery and feeling more stable and less likely to relapse, write out all the actionable ways you will make this happen. You might include:
- Attending one 12-Step meeting per day
- Working the steps
- Signing up for a new support group
- Trying a new holistic treatment that will help you to reduce stress
- Making healthier eating or sleeping choices
- Working with a life coach or sober coach to revitalize your recovery regimen
Once you determine what you need to do on paper, get out your calendar and schedule in exactly when you will make the necessary calls, write the necessary emails, do the research, perform that action, and show up for your goals.
Having a strong support system in recovery is one of the most important ways that you can increase your ability to stay sober. It also helps to have a strong support system cheering you on and even working alongside you as you progress on your goals. Not only does it serve to hold you accountable and keep you motivated, it can also be gratifying to let others know what you are accomplishing along the way.
Just as having others congratulate you on your progress toward reaching your goal can encourage you to stick to your path, so too can rewarding yourself as you hit small milestones along the way. For example, if you are trying to lose 100 pounds to improve your energy levels, cardiovascular health, and mental health in recovery, then every time you drop a size, buy yourself a new pair of pants or otherwise treat yourself for all your hard work in a way that keeps you on target and encourages you to keep moving forward.
In some cases, you may find after you have thoroughly mapped out your goal and started down the path that it just isn’t right for you. For example, you may have had the best intentions to go back to school to become a doctor, but somewhere in the calculus and organic chemistry classes, you realized that you didn’t have the ability or the interest to make the grades and get into – or stay in – med school.
It is important to handle these situations carefully. It is not a decision to be made lightly, and if you do not have the right support around you as you go through this life-changing process, it can be a trigger for relapse. It is important to understand that goals in recovery are explorations, not destinations. Though we may envision ourselves doing certain things, feeling a certain way, or experiencing certain things, it does not mean that if we do not turn those goals into a reality that we are failures or in any way “less than.” Rather, it simply means that we are not necessarily pointed in the right direction and that, with a little bit of time and attention, we can take what we learned about ourselves while pursuing the original goal to figure out the next path we will take in recovery.
What goals do you have for yourself in recovery? How are you working to turn them into the sober life that you want and deserve?