One of the mistakes many make when breaking away from addiction is choosing life goals that are not in align with their recovery. This is a very dangerous thing to do because it is vital that staying sober is always the number one priority. If your goals are getting in the way of your recovery, it will mean that you are at high risk of relapse.
How the Wrong Goals Can Put Your Recovery in Jeopardy
Goals in recovery can be dangerous if they involve anything that will jeopardise your recovery. This could happen for a number of reasons:
- You have goals in early recovery that would involve a great deal of stress to reach. You already have enough stress in your life at this stage of sobriety, so adding more reckless.
- In order to achieve your goals, you would have to engage in activities that threaten your sobriety. For example, behaving unethically or being around alcohol or drugs.
- The cost of achieving your goal would be too burdensome psychologically.
- You have selected goals that are unrealistic, meaning that you could end up feeling disillusioned; you could later use your disappointment as an excuse to relapse.
- Achieving your goals would harm other people, which would put too much conflict into your life.
The Importance of Taking Things Easy in Early Recovery
It is important to have goals in recovery, but you do not want to take on too much additional work in early recovery. This is because adjusting to this new life will involve a lot of energy, meaning that you are likely to feel stressed at times. Putting additional goals into the mix could become too much for you, meaning your number one priority to stay sober would be in jeopardy.
Your number one goal in early recovery is to stay sober and begin slowly rebuilding your life; you are trying to achieve progress, not perfection. You have the rest of your life to create a wonderful sobriety, but it will not to happen overnight. Your focus just has to be showing up sober each day and dealing with the challenges that come your way. If you can do this, you will be making progress and achieving plenty of important things. Once you get beyond the first year or two in recovery then your goals can become a bit more ambitious.
How to Choose Goals That Would Support Your Recovery
Below are a few suggestions for how you can choose goals that would support your recovery:
- If you intuitively feel that a particular goal is not aligned to your recovery then it is best just to drop it.
- One of the great advantages of belonging to a fellowship or having a therapist is that you can get feedback on your goals. It is easier to make bad decisions if you do not share your plans with other people.
- Avoid setting any goals that would involve you having to behave unethically; behaviour of this type always weakens recovery.
- Make sure you have tools for dealing with stress and if a goal involves a level of stress that you do not feel able to handle, it is best to delay this particular goal for now.
- Do not become too goal-focused; they are just something to aim towards and, as long as you remain sober, you are already winning in life.
- Try to stick to SMART goals -specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (i.e. you have set a time limit on achieving this goal).