Where do you want your sobriety to go? What direction do you want your life to head in?
I’ve got a simple hack that will help you start living your best life in sobriety!
Every person in recovery has the same goal: To wake up sober and go to bed sober each day.
That is a perfect daily goal, especially at the beginning of your sobriety journey.
But is that the end goal for your life and recovery? Like, that’s it? You thought to yourself, “Yay! I’m sober!! I did it. That’s it. Now I just maintain this daily for the rest of my life, and I’ve accomplished all that I can with recovery.”
If you want the best life in sobriety, goals will help you get there the fastest. When I ask people in sobriety what their goals are, their answer is usually something similar to this: I don’t have goals. All I want is to be sober. That’s all that matters.
Yes, sobriety should be priority #1, but shouldn’t a phenomenal life be priority #2?!?
There seems to be a misconception that goals are for CEOs, pro sports players, high-end executives, or entrepreneurs. That couldn’t be further from the truth!
Any and every person who wants a great life in sobriety should be thinking about goals.
Setting, pursuing, and achieving goals is what has taken my sobriety from good enough to “holy hell, I can’t believe this is my life!” The life I am crafting by turning my dreams into my future is the most empowering thing I have done for myself and my sobriety.
The best part is: My kids get to watch me! I’m leading by example and being a positive role model in their lives—the life I’m building impacts my children and my family as much as it does me alone.
You’ve heard all the sober quotes that say the idea of recovery isn’t just being sober; it’s about building a life where you don’t want to drink or use.
How do you build a life you don’t want to escape from? By going after goals!
What’s the difference between dreams and goals?
I had lots of dreams while I was drinking. I would sit in my drunken delusions of grandeur and think up all sorts of things I would like to do.
I would dream about the vacations I would like to go on.
I would dream up ways to make money and become more financially secure, which would allow me to give back to the world monetarily.
I would dream about all the fun things I’d like to do with my children.
I would dream of doing anything and everything … conquering the world.
Unfortunately, there was no way I would be able to back up any of those dreams with action. No way! When I sobered up, I was either too hungover or going through mild withdrawal to do anything worthwhile, or I was too busy conjuring up a plan for my next bottle to be bothered by anything else.
All those drunken dreams died the second the booze left my body.
So what’s the difference between dreams and goals? The main difference between dreams and goals: Action.
Dreams are something you’d like to have or do … someday. But, unfortunately, for too many people, “someday” seldom happens.
That’s because dreams have no action attached to them. No timeline to get them done. No steps to take to get there. Dreams live in your mind.
I know that sounds bleak and terrible, but it doesn’t have to be as bad as it sounds. You can (and should) turn your dreams into reality. Dreams are the start of goals. You have to dream it up before you can start to go after it, so please let that be your silver lining!
Why are goals important for your recovery?
Setting goals helps you regain control over your life. You start to live with purpose again because you know exactly what you want and exactly how you’re going to get there.
- They are a healthy way to get your dopamine rush.
A friend of mine in recovery likes to say they’re a “feel-good junkie.” The truth is, all of us addicts are. Our brains are hyper-wired to seek out things that make us feel good.
I won’t go into detail about how addiction works on the chemicals of our brain, but this article here really does a great job explaining it in easy terms if you’d like to dive in. The most important thing to remember is that your brain loves to be rewarded, whether with booze, drugs, food, exercise, reaching goals, laughing with friends, traveling, etc.
Since you’re in recovery and on the path of improving your life and staying sober, rewarding your brain in healthy and positive ways will help you stay sober and improve your life along the way. Win, win!
Setting and then achieving goals in sobriety will boost dopamine and all those other pleasure center chemicals that will help fill the empty void that addiction usually leaves behind.
- They are a great positive mindset hack.
Goals cause you to think about positive things. When you’re setting goals, you’re thinking about what you want (as opposed to what you don’t want or don’t like), and you’re also thinking about the future since that’s where the goals will take you (as opposed to ruminating on the past).
- They help you shift the way you view yourself
When you first come into sobriety, you might not think very highly of yourself. This is very common. Or, you might find that a negative self-image has been a lifelong thing, and so even years down the road of sobriety, negative thoughts about yourself will still bubble up in daily life.
Goals can help you start to see yourself in a positive, capable, and empowering light! When you start by setting small, easily achievable goals and then reach those goals, your confidence will begin to build, and you’ll start to see yourself as a stronger and more capable person, which is honestly the person you’ve always been!
- They help you learn what you want out of life
During your drinking days, it’s most likely that 100% of your focus was on getting the next bottle, nursing a hangover or withdrawals, doing damage control from the night before, or spent fighting with your spouse and kids.
Now that you’re sober, goals help you look at your life and decide what you honestly and genuinely want to do with your day instead of having your day revolve around alcohol in one context or another.
- They help you focus on the future
I know I mentioned this earlier, but it’s worth repeating. Focusing on your future is so essential for those of us in recovery. We can’t go back and fix the past. The only thing we can do is focus on today and keep doing what’s right in each moment in order to craft the best tomorrow possible.
Setting goals and taking the daily steps to achieve them helps you work on today while building your upcoming tomorrows. This is the perfect time to sit back and reflect on how you want your life to be, what you want it to look like, and then go after it slowly but surely, bit by bit.
What kind of goals should you set in recovery?
The goals you set for yourself can be about anything.
- Family and your kids
- Physical, emotional, and mental health
- Sober fun
Improvements in any of the areas above, even just one area, would have the trickle effect of benefiting your sobriety too. That’s the beauty of goals! See why I’m passionate about them?
But if you’re just getting started on your sober journey or are struggling to get and stay sober, your goals might be strictly sobriety-related (and that’s precisely how it should be, IMO).
Examples of sobriety-related goals could be:
- Listen without judgment at recovery meetings or when talking with other people in recovery.
- Completely participate in your counseling or therapy sessions or recovery groups.
- Attend X amount of sobriety meetings weekly.
- Pay close attention to your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health each and every day, and course-correct as soon as something goes out of whack.
If you’re thinking about setting a goal of cutting the amount of sugar in your diet, this post will be of benefit: 3 Steps to Reduce Sugar Cravings in Early Recovery
Getting sober was the first step.
Building the dream life you deserve is the next step.
Grab your copy of the Happy, Sober, and Balanced Workbook today to get started.
Think of it as a vision board for your sobriety!
How to set goals in recovery.
In Oola, we use the S.M.A.R.T. method for setting goals. I’ll break all that down in a moment, but first, I want you to take out a piece of paper, write the following questions down, and then spend some time writing out the answer.
Don’t skip this step, and don’t do it in your head! Also, you need to put literal pen to literal paper. This is not the time to use your computer or smartphone. This is the time to do things old school.
Something happens in our brains when we physically write things down versus when we type things out. There are articles like this one, this one here, or perhaps even this one that explain how and why physically writing things down is more effective than either just thinking about them or typing.
If you want to take this up a notch, you can do like I do: Grab a special notebook or journal that you use specifically and only for the goal setting and goal attainment process.
I use Gabby Bernstein’s The Universe Has Your Back Journal for this purpose. I think it’s quite fitting. Plus, it’s just aesthetically pleasing because it’s gorgeous! I’ve been known to show this journal for my goals in my Instagram Stories.
One last thing about writing your goals down: Writing your goals down makes you more likely to achieve them! I’m talking anywhere from 33% to 42% more likely! That’s huge!!
Here are a couple articles to read about that topic if you’d like to dive a little deeper (I know I totally nerd out on this sort of thing).
Now here we go:
I want you to think about what you want out of your sobriety. Where do you want it to go?
This is where the writing comes in. Here are a few prompts to get you started:
- What is most important to you and why?
- What areas of your life need the most work? For example, mental health, physical health, career, relationships, finances, etc.
- Which goals would make the most significant impact on your overall physical, mental, and emotional health?
- Are these goals realistic?
If you’re sitting there stuck, not knowing what to write down, don’t fret! There are so many people who have never thought about what they want out of life, where they want it to go. Know that you’re not alone.
If you’d like some help navigating this and creating a sort of vision board for your recovery, I have a workbook that you can use that will help you a lot. You can grab a copy of it here. This workbook will walk you through seven important areas of life to find what needs work and where your focus should go. Grab your copy here.
Next, you’re going to set yourself up for success by making your goals S.M.A.R.T.
Your goals need to be so specific that a stranger can read them and know exactly what you’re going after. For example, “I want to go to more sobriety meetings” is not specific, but “I want to go to 3 meetings a week” is.
A specific goal should answer at least one of these questions: Who, what, where, when, why, and/or which.
Measurable goals help you see if you’re on track and measure your progress. Notice in the recovery meetings example above that adding the “3 meetings a week” metric made the goal both specific and measurable.
In Oola, we use a slightly different metric for the A. When a goal is specific and measurable, you can be held accountable for it. Find someone who supports you and will keep you accountable for your goals for your life.
As an Oola Certified Coach, holding you accountable to your goals is exactly what I do.
Dreams can be huge, intangible, and often feel unrealistic, but goals need to be set in such a way that they are obtainable with the resources, knowledge, time, and money you have available or could easily acquire.
Don’t set yourself up for failure by trying to go after goals you don’t have the resources for! Instead, stay realistic and build on your goals in a stepwise fashion to reach your bigger ideals.
One of the most important aspects of a goal should be the time attached to it. Things in life tend to fill up the space provided for them, precisely like a goldfish and its surroundings.
If you don’t set a timeline for a goal, the odds are very likely you won’t achieve it. Conversely, if you give yourself a specific timeframe, you’ll have a predetermined end in mind that will help you achieve what you’re going after.
Here’s the final hack to reaching your goals: Write down your goals often, if not daily.
Writing them down frequently helps keep them top of mind. This is not an exercise you do once and that’s it. You should be writing down your goals daily or at the very least 2-3 or more times a week.
Write down the steps you’re going to take to reach them. Write down the accountability partners who have your back. Write down the feelings you’ll have when you reach them. Write it all down.
This doesn’t have to be elaborate or take up a bunch of time. It should only take a few minutes out of your day, but the impact it will have in the long term makes it more than worth your time.
Setting goals takes a little thought and action, but in the end, it truly is a simple hack to start living your best life in sobriety. I know that was a firehose rendition of information, so know that you can ask questions in the comments below if you need help figuring out any step of this process. I’m always here to help!
I’d also LOVE to hear what your goals are, the steps you’ll take to get there, and all the other juicy details. As I said, I nerd out on this sort of thing. Plus, I want nothing more than to see you succeed in your sobriety. So please drop your goals in the comments as well.