Be S.M.A.R.T: How to set realistic goals on your recovery journey
Achievable goals can help you successfully change your substance use.
Goals are a major part of recovery. We all know how important it is to have them, but that doesn’t mean they’re always easy to set and achieve. Often we start our journeys with a sense of enthusiasm and drive, which can cloud our view of what is actually manageable or realistic. It’s fantastic to have a clear goal of — like, I don’t want to use cannabis anymore — but it can feel very far away. If you don’t have any direction or plan for your recovery journey it can be overwhelming. You may find yourself trawling through apps, watching inspiring Ted Talks or just feel like giving up at the beginning. However the key factor in goal setting is the steps that you take to define your goals. The easiest approach is to just be S.M.A.R.T
S.M.A.R.T goals are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Using this goal-setting framework will help you to break down the bigger picture and start your recovery journey with a clear plan of action. So what does it mean to be S.M.A.R.T? Let’s break it down.
Specific goals have a clear outcome. I want to stop using is too broad and not specific enough. Alternatively I will limit myself to two drinks a night or I will only use a gram a day is clearer, more specific and easily defined. You’ve given yourself a clear plan and understand what you’re supposed to be doing.
Measurable goals help you to see how you’re moving along your recovery journey. Saying I will have two days a week when I don’t use benzos is measurable. You can then reflect and reassess your goals at the end of each week. Remember, you can start small and get bigger!
Achievable goals take into consideration your capacity and any barriers that may stand in the way of recovery. A goal like I will stop drinking today doesn’t take into account urges, cravings, or the potential dangers of withdrawal. A goal such as I will limit myself to two drinks a night is achievable, as it is recognising a need to reduce intake slowly so you’re not overwhelmed by cravings immediately.
Relevant goals are specifically related to the outcome you want to achieve. In this case, some relevant goals may not be directly related to your substance use, but will still be able to help you during your recovery journey. You may set a goal to establish healthy habits, such as I will go for a walk three times a week or I will eat veggies at least one meal per day.
Time-bound goals have a specific time frame, which may depend on the size of the goal. Time-bound goals may cover a week or even a year, but they help you to have a clear finish line and a reasonable time frame to work within. For example: This week, I will not drink on Monday and Tuesday night is a time-bound goal.
So now you’ve got a little overview of S.M.A.R.T, it’s time to start thinking about your own goals! Get in touch with us if you’d like to chat about how to get started.