SMART Goals for the New Year
It has become a cliché for people to set resolutions for the New Year only to break them within a few weeks. According to Forbes Magazine, 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions are broken by the end of January.
Of all the reasons why these resolutions don’t stick, one of the biggest is that the goals aren’t realistic. SMART goals, a concept developed in the business world, can solve this problem. SMART goals make it easier to identify the target outcome and make progress toward it. For someone in addiction recovery, well-written goals can also function as self-fulfilling prophecies, fostering the belief in success.
What Are SMART Goals?
SMART is an acronym referring to the characteristics of a well-written goal:
- Specific – For a goal to be SMART, it must be specific in nature. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a specific goal should be clear to anyone who is reading it. For example, it is great to attend more recovery meetings, but be specific about which meetings you will attend, on which days of the week, and at what time.
It can also help to build some accountability into the goal. Will you be checking in with a counselor or your sponsor about your progress on your goal? How often will that happen? Will you meet with them in person or connect with a call, text, or email? Posting the goals and your progress in a visible place can also provide accountability and motivation.
- Measurable – SMART goals are also measurable. So often, we hear people say that they want to lose weight, but they don’t stipulate how much weight. So how do they know if they are doing well or doing poorly on that goal? In setting a goal to attend more recovery meetings, the measurable part would be the number of meetings you want to attend. Having a measurable goal works as an incentive: if you feel like giving up, you can remind yourself that you need only one more meeting this week to meet the goal.
- Achievable – A goal isn’t SMART if it cannot be achieved. If you don’t have the ability to attend three meetings per day, then setting that as a goal is only going to make you lose hope when you fail to accomplish it. It is important to know your limits when setting goals. Look at all of your obligations and the amount of time you have available to work on this specific goal. Acknowledge any factors that are outside of your control.
- Relevant – Ask yourself why you want to do this. Where are you now? Where do you want to be? If the goal isn’t going to improve your life or move you toward your bigger goals, then how will you be motivated to achieve it? A goal to increase recovery meetings is relevant if it supports your ability to stay sober. Or, maybe you set a goal to try new meetings because you need a new home group. Maybe the increased attendance will help you get through a difficult milestone or event. The reason for the goal should shape how it is written.
- Time Limited – The final requirement for a SMART goal is to have an end date. If your goal is to increase how many recovery meetings you will attend, how long will you be doing that? Are you doing this as a short-term boost to your sobriety during a difficult time of year? Is this something you’re doing to build better long-term habits? It can also be helpful to break a large goal into smaller increments that each have their own time limits. For example, if you want to visit 30 new recovery meetings in the next 90 days, it might be helpful to focus on 10 new meetings per month.
More About Goals
If you are having trouble identifying a goal, it may be helpful to look at the rituals that are useful in supporting recovery. Perhaps strengthening part of your self-care routine will enhance your recovery. Some examples could be related to healthy eating, good sleep hygiene, and proper exercise. Goals pertaining to these areas can strengthen your recovery while also benefiting other aspects of your life.
Let Us Help
At Safe Harbor Recovery Center, we take a whole-person approach and actively encourage our guests to continually strive for growth and self-improvement.