Here we are, new year, new decade, new you! The gyms get packed again and we begin our conquest to fit into our high school clothing. The wasteful spending of cash subsides to belt tightening and planning for retirement, right?? Well, what about those of us whose primary goal is to maintain our sobriety from drugs and alcohol or simply begin with Day 1!
Pinecrest Recovery is here to help you map out a plan and offer a few incredible ideas.
Why Set Goals?
“A goal properly set is halfway reached” – Zig Ziglar
Let’s contemplate the opposite of setting goals, which would be procrastination or apathy. Each of those two options imply that everything in our life is going just great! Perhaps it means that the pain of change is greater than the pain of staying the same. But in the context of addiction and recovery, most of us can agree that change and growth are required to avoid the grasps of certain tragedy. The quote by our friend Zig illustrates how important “intentions to change” are in the process of achieving a goal. Congratulate yourself on being halfway towards your goal just by placing the intention and effort into beginning!
Everything is energy. And everything we do and feel creates a frequency that attracts or repels that energy. Our intention towards happiness, love and gratitude amplifies a frequency, just like anger, fear and guilt. As we emit these energies, we attract the vibrational match. The concepts of goals setting allows us to intentionally predetermine our frequency and move towards a target. It becomes difficult to manifest our desired goals without clearly stating a target.
How to Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals
A well-known method and technique for setting goals is making sure they are “S.M.A.R.T.” (in direct contrast to DUMB goals…. who wants those??):
- Specific: Define the goal with as much clear language as possible. Attempt to cover the Who, What, Where and Why of the targeted goal. Imagine you were to go to a restaurant and order from the waiter “I would like some food”. Both the waiter and the cook would know you were not serious about your order and certainly you could be disappointed with the meal returned from the kitchen. This is synonymous in goal setting as stating “I want to get in shape”. It’s too vague and will not conger up the motivation to succeed. In the world of abstinence, stating “I want to quit” is not good enough.
- Measurable: How will you measure if you are making progress towards the goal? This implies that the goal needs to be quantifiable. If your goal was to make more income, this means stating the desired number or hours or dollars needed to move forward. Equally, stating “I want to be a better father” is not measurable. But stating “I will spend one hour a night reading with my children” is much better. A third party should be able to look at the measurement and help you be accountable.
- Attainable: Make sure the goal is not a) out of reach or b) below an acceptable level. A favorite mentor of mine reflected on this topic by saying “The magnet must be far away enough to help you grow, but close enough that it can still attract you.” When we set a goal too far in the future or too far away from a reality that we don’t believe we can achieve, our subconscious limits our motivation. If you’re goal is to become President of the United States, yet you’re struggling to find viable employment, this may be an example of setting the bar too high (and who wants that job, anyways!). Conversely, if you set a goal to be 140 pounds and your already 139 pounds…there exists a potential that new behaviors will not be needed to achieve that goal.
- Relevant: The goal should be consistent and relevant to other short-term goals and long-term visions you have for your life. If you were to lay your goals side by side, would they be congruent and aligned? Or would one say go North while another said go South; meanwhile your lifetime target is to go East? Effective goals can and should be building blocks that fit together and achieve a larger mission for your life.
- Timebound: An effective goal will be time bound in that it has a deadline or time limit. This helps to establish a sense of urgency and requires time management. Without an element of measurement for time, procrastination sets in and postponed achievement of the goal.
With S.M.A.R.T. goal setting in mind, let’s consider areas of your life that can help with sustained recovery and sobriety.
Goals for New Daily Habits
For many, the depths of addiction caused day or months or years of building maladaptive daily behaviors. In this case, the solution lies in the problem. A key, vital to recovery, is establishing new daily practices. As the new year begins, let’s look at areas to set daily goals for our recovery and a fulfilling lifestyle:
Take your daily M.E.D.S.:
Yes, another acronym. Each letter can have its own set of goal statements:
- Meditation: Set a daily goal to remain focused on the present moment. For beginners let’s just say this can be any activity that brings your focus away from the past or future into the “now”. This can be achieved through a daily plan to read, cook, listen to music, hike in nature, garden or sit quietly and breathe without any distractions. Make a plan to dedicate time to be with yourself and find positive emotions in the present moment.
- Exercise: Our physical health is related to our mental, emotional and spiritual health. Setting a daily goal to move your body helps to maintain recovery and improve overall wellbeing. You can pick an activity you enjoy whether yoga, weights or simply walking.
- Diet: We are what we eat! In our efforts to remain abstinent from drugs and alcohol, we encourage reducing sugar, processed foods and caffeine at a minimum. Obviously a much more stringent nutrition plan can be chosen if you already achieved these goals.
- Sleep: Sleep rejuvenates and cleanses the brain. The toxins we build up throughout the day are literally flushed from our brain with adequate sleep. Lack of sleep affects brain function and overall mood.
Build a Community:
Social support is vital to recovery. It’s been written that “the opposite of addiction is not sobriety; the opposite of addiction is connection”. Make a goal of certain meetings or social contacts to be made in each day or week. In early recovery, this may be daily 12 steps group supports and sponsorship.
Talk to Yourself Nicely:
Decide to learn how to create positive affirmation to help change your mind and your attitude. Undoubtedly, addiction can affect self-esteem and the views of ourselves every time we look in the mirror. An amazing daily practice is to write positive affirmations and repeat them to yourself every morning when you wake up and evening before bed. Learn to write affirmations.
Build Your Brain:
Educate yourself on areas of your life that interest you by setting a goal to improve your knowledge. Perhaps you dedicated an hour a day to reading a book or following a blog or studying a documentary. In recovery, learning why and how the process of addiction and healing affect your mind, body and spirit can help build strength and relapse prevention.
My day used to look like this: Wake up and walk to the kitchen for coffee; get dressed; walk to my car and drive to work to spend all day inside a building. Leave work to drive home; walk inside and sit down to watch TV before bed. That’s an abbreviated flow of my day, but what I realized after learning about “grounding” was that my skin literally never come in contact with the earth, in any form, for days at a time. I went from carpet to concrete to tile to concrete to linoleum to…. Our body’s electrical system is meant to download negative energy by touching the earth. Think of grounding an electrical circuit. Plan a daily practice of walking on grass or dirt or sand. Maybe get your hands dirty by gardening or yard work. Let yourself unload negatively and recharge your body.
2020 marks not only the beginning of a new year, but also a new decade. For you, maybe the beginning of a new life of sobriety. To start the year with a plan in mind moves your intentions from mere ideas to reality. Pinelands Recovery hopes the ideas in this article motivate you to action and new daily practices. Visit us and consider us a resource of inspiration and solutions.