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Have you thought about what you’d like to accomplish next year? When the new year is upon us, thoughts turn to setting fresh goals we’d like to achieve.

To set yourself up for success, it’s important that the recovery goals you make are reasonable and reachable. A goal-setting system called SMART can help you set and reach your goals.

SMART is a system where you develop your goals using the acronym as a guide. This helps to ensure the goals you are considering are clear and reachable. To this end, each goal should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time sensitive

Let’s take a closer look at each of these steps, and then use examples of how you can put SMART into action.1

The 5 Steps of SMART

1. Specific

Your goal should be clear and specific, not vague. A clear focus helps you understand where to direct your efforts and keeps you motivated to reach it. When thinking about your goal, ask yourself what you want to accomplish, why it’s important, who and what is involved and what you need to reach it.

2. Measurable

Having a measurable goal makes it easy to track your progress. Being able to measure your progress also helps you stay motivated. You’ll meet your deadline, and along the way you’ll experience the excitement of moving closer to reaching your goal.

3. Achievable

Make sure your goal is realistic and achievable and not so out of reach that you are setting yourself up for failure. Your goal should be a bit of a stretch, requiring you to grow to reach it, but still possible. One way to ensure your goal is achievable is making it dependent only on you. Setting a goal that involves someone else moves it out of your control and may undermine it.

4. Relevant

Be certain your goal matters to you, and it’s in line with other relevant goals. Make sure your goals don’t conflict with each other.

5. Time-sensitive

Set a target date so that you have a time frame to focus on. Focusing on the time frame helps you set short-, medium- and long-term goals. This helps you prioritize the order of what needs to be completed first, before you move to the next step.

Putting SMART into Action

SMART goal setting can work for you when it involves recovery.2

Instead of saying, “My goal is not to feel so sad or depressed,” replace it with, “For the next week, when I feel sad or depressed, I will write down my feelings in my journal.”

Instead of saying “My goal is to never experience cravings for drugs or alcohol again,” try this SMART strategy: “My goal is to work a recovery program for one full year, since I have relapsed in the past after ten months of sobriety.”

The replacement examples use SMART, but they also emphasize positive, healthy behaviors, rather than just the lack of negative behaviors. Using these approaches makes it much more likely you’ll reach your goals. Using your SMART acronym as a guide to setting meaningful and reachable objectives for the new year, is simply smart!

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References:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SMART_criteria
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19237435
Reaching Your Recovery Goals the SMART Way
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