The Importance of Achievable Goals in Recovery

Recovery is a complex journey during which you untangle unhealthy patterns, become more aware of your thoughts and emotions and learn valuable skills that will support you throughout your life. At first, all of this can feel overwhelming. Where do you start? How do you avoid triggers and cravings while working on your coping skills? How will you be able to stay sober forever? Staying substance free forever can seem daunting at first. But instead of viewing recovery as an endless road with an invisible finish line that’s hundreds of miles away, you can set recovery goals to help you move forward with focus and ease. Setting goals in recovery creates a structure that guides you through the unknown to a rewarding future.


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What Are Recovery Goals?

Everyone who enters recovery has goals in mind even if they don’t realize it. Your first foray into goal setting in recovery usually happens when you decide to get clean. You set a goal to enter a detox program, and you successfully eliminate the substances from your system. But once your initial goal has been met, you might feel like you’re floundering. If recovery is an ongoing process, you likely wonder how you’ll know if you’re healing. Staying clean is one indicator that things are going well, but there are many subtle steps that allow you to stay that way. Establishing goals around those provides a framework for staying healthy. Goal setting in recovery allows you to work toward something specific every day. It helps you wrap your mind around the healing process and recognize when you’re taking steps forward, moving backward or staying stuck. It takes the pressure off of sobriety as the only objective and allows you to build a solid foundation for recovery.

Types of Recovery Goals

Goals aren’t always about what you achieve. You can set goals that help you reframe your thinking, set up healthy habits and create positive outcomes in your life.

Process Goals

These behavior-oriented recovery goals focus on establishing habits that support your physical and mental health. The outcome of your behavior isn’t as important as the behavior itself. For example, you may set a process goal to eat healthy meals and snacks throughout the day to give your body what it needs and dampen cravings. If you still experience cravings after meeting your goal, that’s ok. The intention was to create a healthy pattern of living, and you achieved it.

Performance Goals

Performance goals are dependent on meeting particular metrics. The chips that you earn at AA and NA meetings are examples of performance goals. They celebrate your success in staying sober for specific increments of time. You need to establish and achieve your process goals to meet your process goals. As you take on healthy habits, you’ll be able to set and meet more performance goals.

Outcome Goals

Outcome goals in recovery are usually long-term objectives that you can achieve by maintaining process and performance goals. For example, creating a structured routine for your day gives you time to focus on the performance goal of updating your resume. Your outcome goal is to get a new job.

3 Benefits of Goal Setting in Recovery

Although experts tout the benefits of setting goals, many people avoid establishing goals using a specific method. You may have some hopes, dreams and objectives, but do you write them down? Working on techniques for goal setting in recovery offers several benefits:

  1. Clarify your values – Setting goals helps you get clear on the important things in your life. Understanding why you want to stay sober helps you turn away from distractions and stay on the path to recovery.
  2. Build confidence – Even if you don’t write down your goals, you’re always setting and meeting objectives. However, you don’t really know when you meet them if they’re not specific and measurable. When you establish clear, realistic goals, you can monitor your progress more easily. Every time you achieve one of those goals, you build your confidence in yourself and your ability to stay the course.
  3. Build self-awareness – Goals are not stagnant. You may have to adapt them as you learn what works for you. Goal setting in recovery, whether you achieve those goals or not, teaches you how to evaluate your life objectively. You’ll become more accepting of your weaknesses and take advantage of your strengths.

Examples of Goals in Recovery to Set Today

If setting goals in recovery is new to you, you don’t have to do it alone. An effective counselor or therapist will guide you through the process and help you establish meaningful, personal goals. You can apply what you learn to any area of your life as you continue through recovery.

Start Small

It’s essential that you start small when you’re setting goals. If your objectives are unrealistic, you’ll have trouble reaching them, which can be discouraging. Practice setting small, achievable goals until you build confidence that you can achieve them. Some examples of these small goals include:

  • Drinking eight glasses of water a day
  • Adding a vegetable to one of your meals
  • Doing something new once a week
  • Stretching every morning when you wake up
  • Writing down the amends that you want to make with one individual
  • Delete contacts for toxic people from your phone

Match Your Goals With Your Values

Once you have practiced setting and achieving some of these smaller goals, you’ll have more confidence in yourself. This is an excellent time to focus on other goals. You’ll work with your healthcare team to clarify your values and opportunities. What are you working toward? What do you want to accomplish? Some goals that can help you support your values and strengths as you move through recovery include:

  • Attending a specific number of support group meetings every week
  • Making a list of what you want from a healthy relationship
  • Turn in all of your work or school assignments on time
  • Keep a journal for a month
  • Practice a hobby twice a week
  • Enroll in an exercise class

Getting Help With Goal Setting in Recovery

After you have practice with a specific goal-setting strategy, you can repeat it for all of your goals in life. Although the process can be challenging, it gets easier with time. Goal setting in recovery at Burning Tree Programs is one of the skills that you’ll learn and practice continually. We help our clients transform long-term goals into workable chunks, supporting them and celebrating them as they meet each milestone. Integrating this practice in your life will help you act according to your values and live with purpose.


Find an Inpatient Rehab Program Now

We are here to help you through every aspect of recovery. Call our admissions team to find the best for long-term recovery.

(866) 287-2877