Tired of setting big goals only to experience big failures? Frustrated with what seems to be a cycle of motivation, hardship, and a subsequent loss of motivation?
Setting Goals & Dreaming Big
Welcome to the club. Many of us dream big and later get overwhelmed by the nightmare that failure can be.
Here’s a personal example: one of my biggest goals was to win a scholarship to live and work in Brazil as an English teacher. When I was selected as an alternate and not first-pick, I was devastated. Later, after some reflection and a few conversations with friends and family, I learned to accept the status of alternate as a small win rather than a profound loss.
This is exactly what professional athlete and writer Sanne Verstagen talks about in her blog post about dreaming big and accepting small achievements. Her personal goal was to be an Olympic athlete. When that didn’t work out, she dealt with feelings of heartbreak, lowered self esteem, and frustration.
Sobriety & Wellness
For people in recovery, setting goals related to sobriety and wellness might seem like a wonderful idea. But getting carried away with unrealistic goals can actually lead to relapse when those goals are not met. That’s why this post is dedicated to describing the wrong way to set goals in sobriety and how to set goals that work for you rather than against you.
You Can’t See Blurry Goals
Maybe you’ve decided you want to start volunteering in your sobriety, but you haven’t yet executed the idea. In fact, you keep putting it off. That’s probably because “volunteering” is far too general a goal. Try writing down exactly what type of volunteer work you’d like to do and how often. This will facilitate a simple Google search, which will make it easier to find the opportunity you need and get started. In short: be concise, direct, and concrete about your focus.
Long-Term Vs. Short-Term
Many people who struggle with sobriety understand that long-term goals don’t really have much of a chance if they aren’t preceded by a short-term goal. Often, we set goals so far into the future that we can hardly visualize them or understand what they will require of us. Make goals that have an expiration date in a matter of days, or a week, tops! This will help you to focus and build habits over time. For example, if you want to run a 5K but have never run in your adult life, give yourself a series of small goals that you can accomplish on your way to the big one. Feeling a sense of accomplishment daily or weekly will motivate you to keep going.
Do What You Love, Not What Someone Wants You to Love
So many of us make goals about what we think we should be doing or who and what we should be. However, the quickest way to leave a goal permanently unmet is to create it for someone else, and not for yourself. Think and pursue what genuinely calls to you, not to someone else.
A Reward System Can’t Hurt
What really helps us stay focused and build neural pathways conducive to good habits is a reward system. I know, I know: you may be thinking that addiction works rather like a reward system, where you suffer without the drug and then are immediately rewarded by it once it’s introduced back into your system. You’re not wrong–but what if you used a healthy reward system? When you complete the little goals that you make for yourself, treat yourself to something: some quiet time to read, a dollar in your vacation fund, a movie with a friend, a special snack, etc. These small encouragements will increase your chances of staying inspired to keep moving toward your goals.
The 4 R’s
Now, all of this might seem like a bombardment of information, so here’s a quick summary. Remember the four R’s when setting goals:
- Refocus: make clear, concrete goals.
- Reposition: make goals not only for the future, but for the present.
- Represent: make goals that represent YOU, not others.
- Relax: pat yourself on the back in whatever healthy way that you choose when to complete goals.
If you keep these pointers in mind, will you reach all of your goals easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy? The answer is maybe. Deep down, you have to want to achieve your goals, and the four R’s will only serve you if you want them to.
We Are Here to Help
Getting serious about our goals is a true challenge. That’s why St. Gregory Recovery Center is here 24/7 to bolster you up in your journey to and throughout sobriety. Don’t hesitate to contact us today to find out about how our therapy sessions, faith-based resources, cozy rehabilitation center, and various wellness programs can help you realize your dreams.