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The first thing that comes to mind is obviously staying sober. While seems like a no-brainer, how you go about reaching that goal is something many people struggle with? As with anything you desire in life, appropriate goal setting can be the most valuable tool available to help you achieve what you desire most. Without having goals, you end up adrift, unsure of yourself, and you may never set out to accomplish anything in life.

Goal setting in important in recovery because you can give you a sense of progress and you will feel that you are moving in a consistent forward direction. But why and how to set goals in addiction recovery? There are many reasons setting goals in addiction recovery is essential to increasing your chances of success in recovery:

Sober Goals Build Hope

When you are struggling with addiction, hope can be in short supply. Addiction can strip you of everything including your confidence and ability to lead a fulfilling life. When you practice goal setting, it gives you something to be hopeful for, something to be working towards, and can help you regain a sense of purpose in your life. As a result, you feel optimistic that you will become stronger, wiser and happy through the process of taking measurable action that allows you to see how far you’ve really come.

Hope can be obtained in several ways. Examples include finding pleasurable hobbies, building meaningful relationships and helping build a solid spiritual foundation. Additionally, hope can grow when you realize that others in similar circumstances have been able to recover — providing proof positive that recovery is possible.

Sober Goals Help Identify Your Trueset Desires and Interests

Goal setting is also essential in recovery because it helps to identify your priorities in life and helps establish what is most important to you. It can help you to pursue new interests that you once enjoyed or have yet to explore.

Goals help you find those interests that bring you joy. Whether it is exercise, reading, music or volunteering, finding activities that bring you a sense of pride and accomplishment it can do wonders for your confidence and helps you grow as a person.

Sober Goals Help You Overcome Fear

If you are new in recovery, your journey can be scary at times, and you can often feel lost. It always seems that triggers and daily stressors can threaten to derail your sobriety. While it’s understandable to feel anxious and scared at times, the ability to set clear and realistic goals in recovery will allow you to see measurable progress in your recovery which can help calm some of those fears. When you set goals for yourself, you are encouraged to reach for them and build confidence in yourself when you can see measurable progress in the right direction. If you happen to fall short or fail, dust yourself off, learn from your mistakes and grow.

Achieving goals creates confidence and belief in yourself. Even if it is just a small goal such as staying sober for today, you have accomplished something positive and worthwhile. You can build on that to achieve greater goals and increase your confidence in the new “recovering” you. Through this process of setting small, realistic, and achievable goals in the short term you can start to build momentum toward conquering your biggest and most challenging long-term goals. It’s about setting a plan in motion and making small incremental progress. You may surprise yourself when you start to see what you’re able to build by taking day by day, goal by goal approach to things.

Sober Goals Connect Actions and Outcomes

Goal setting in recovery is important because it allows you to see how your actions affect your ability to achieve goals. A good question to ask yourself when faced with a dilemma over a decision you’re about to make is, “Is this action in line with my goals,” being able to make short term decisions now that benefit your long-term goals, and future self is a powerful trait worth developing.

When you set specific goals, you have hope and confidence that you can reach those goals no matter how long it takes. Making responsible and healthy choices allows you the ability to maintain control of your recovery. Goal setting shows you that you ultimately you can gain control over your own life by focusing on what matters most, and acting in a way that aligns with your goals. You not only need to own the positive choices you make, but you must also own the negative decisions you make in your daily life. No matter what choices you make, you use them as lessons to learn from and strengthen your recovery by monitoring progress and keeping track or what does or doesn’t help you get where you want to go in life.

Being in recovery can be daunting, and not having clear goals can further impact your ability to stay clean and sober. If you need help in identifying and setting goals, talk to your counselor, sponsor, family or those in your 12-step or other sober support groups.

Read Further

Tolerance in Recovery: Coping and Learning Distress Tolerance Skills

Self Centeredness in Recovery: Healthy Recovery

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Written By: Linda Whiteside


Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who has been providing mental health services for over 10 years.

Medically reviewed by: Dr. Ryan Peterson


Went to medical school at The George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C.

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