7 Realistic Goals During Recovery

The beginning of a new year offers a perfect opportunity to reassess your road to recovery thus far, and to set realistic goals for the next year. Setting SMART goals can be an important tool in your tool kit to keep you motivated on achieving long term sobriety.

What are S.M.A.R.T. Goals?

S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym that helps you set goals that are Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Timely. Which means that for each goal you set for yourself, make sure that it has a Specific outcome, and that you have a way to Measure your progress. When you set goals that can be defined with Action steps that are manageable, it ensures your goals are Realistic. Don’t forget to set Timely deadlines so that they can keep you accountable to your goals.


Adopting the framework of SMART goals for yourself makes you responsible for your own success.

The following suggested goals may give you an idea of what could be considered a SMART goal. You may take on one or all of the goals below based on your needs and preferences, or you may come up with your own set of goals that will work for you.

1. Create a Daily Routine

It’s no secret that starting the day right tends to make the rest of the day feel positive. This could include setting an alarm to wake up at a regular time each morning, followed by a healthy breakfast and/or an exercise routine. 

2. Start a New Hobby

And make sure it’s a sober hobby. Many people resort to substance use when they are bored, or to escape from their daily life. Picking up a new hobby that interests you helps ensure that you have something to do when you are bored, or looking for an escape.

3. Help, Volunteer, Be Kind

Finding causes that you feel connected with gives you a great opportunity to take the focus off of yourself and instead find meaning in helping other people. Even a small act of kindness each day can brighten up your own day in unexpected ways.

4. Write Thank You Notes

On the flip side, remember those who have helped you in your own journey, and make it a habit to send them a thank you to let them know how much you appreciate them. Expressing gratitude has been shown to improve both physical and mental health in the long term.

5. Do the Inner Work

Recovery is ultimately an inside job. Staying in therapy, reading, journaling, and seeking solutions that work for you go a long way towards taking responsibility for your own recovery. Commit to a goal of how you want to do the inner work for yourself.

6. Learn to be Compassionate to Yourself

Does it feel strange seeing Compassion as a goal? This could take the form of learning self-care, how to take care of yourself in a compassionate way. Small acts of self-care can ensure you are taking care of yourself physically and mentally.

7. Celebrate Successes

As you make progress on your goals, make sure to look at how far you’ve come on your journey of recovery. Celebrate even the smallest of successes to keep you going strong and steady. If you slip, be sure to forgive yourself, and then get back on your path.

IMPORTANT: Please read!

Do whatever you need to achieve your goals, whether it is daily checklists, or gold stars, or writing in your journal about your daily progress, but do not feel guilty or ashamed if you fail. “Failure” is simply information that tells you something about the goal. You can change the goal into something that works for you, or create a new one that’s more realistic. 


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