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Recovery a Goal? Then Make It Happen

Updated on February 21, 2015
Recovery is the larger goal; it will be accomplished with the sub-goals
Recovery is the larger goal; it will be accomplished with the sub-goals | Source

My Employer Had a Goal

In 1988, my employer at the time sent me to drug and alcohol treatment. Brenau University (Georgia) was adamant that I receive help and encouraging of me being successful. I think it was this combination of boundaries on my behaviors while still demonstrating faith in me to recover that allowed this intervention to work.

I did not think of recovery as a goal twenty-six years ago when I first entered treatment but used my employers encouragement to follow their recommendations. Certainly, I had other objectives and had been able to accomplish them. I knew that education, financial security, career opportunities and better relationships with family and friends all improved my life.

With some of them, I could map out specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time targeted goals and sub-goals. I had accomplished many of those objectives using S.M.A.R.T goals, first mentioned in the November 1981 issue of Management Review by George T. Doran.

Applying S.M.A.R.T. to my Recovery

However, it was not until I made my recovery a goal in 1988, did I start to attach the principles of goal and sub-goal setting to it. My first goal setting for recovery was:

  1. Specific: Remain abstinent
  2. Measureable: Employer mandated drug screen results
  3. Achievable: Yes, do not use
  4. Realistic: Yes, if I do not use
  5. Time-targeted: Will be screened weekly on a random basis

I had very clear expectations of myself, and one simple way to accomplish my original recovery goal: Do not use. I would also enjoy continued employment with this goal satisfied, so remaining abstinent facilitated other goals, such as financial independence.

I knew that I could not approach this objective in the throw-away manner that I had with New Year's Day resolutions. Recovery as a goal had to be life changing and life affirming. However, I knew that my addiction had not formed overnight, and there would be no quick overnight fix for it, either.


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Moving from Other Centered Goals to My Own Internal Goals

I also realized after a few meetings while in treatment that the early stages of change are the times that most people relapse. I immediately set a one-month goal for abstinence.

At the end of that month, I set a two-month goal. It was also at this point that I started measuring and adjusting my recovery sub-goals to include internal motivation rather than just the external motivation of keeping my job.

Emotional Rewards for Accomplishing Goals

Positive and negative emotions and attitudes contribute to motivation and incentive. For some people, the bottom and the associated feelings of low self-worth, guilt and shame prompt a desire to change for the better and to receive better outcomes. It does not matter which side of the coin you are on if changing for the better is your goal.

For others, the bottom gives them a sense of relief; as if they were caught, and change is going to produce different or better results. I felt relieved to be in recovery. I knew that I could not sustain these feelings without learning all I could about recovery.

I studied all available literature and bought countless books on the subject. I knew that my relationships, self-image, and awareness would all improve with this education into addiction and recovery.

Do you use goals to motivate your changes? Do you use sub-goals to monitor progress?

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Meditation Books with an Identifiable Action

I value words, and meditation books gave me a recovery perspective on aspects of my life and helped me facilitate my goals and sub-goals. Reading, studying and then putting the intent of the meditation theme into action for the day meant that I was reinforcing my recovery at work, at home, with friends, as well as at meetings.

An excellent site for meditation books from multiple perspectives is: Powell's City of Books. There are over 140 meditation books offered. With these kinds of choices, I cannot think of a single recovery orientation that isn't addressed.

What Support is Better for You to Accomplish your Goal?

Each will find their complimentary methods for reaching their goal of recovery. However, having knowledgeable, supportive people help direct us toward our goal of recovery is usually more productive and less time consuming than going it alone.

There are more approaches to helping people than when I got into recovery 26 years ago. There are 12 Step based, faith based, and secular approaches to help individuals recover from substance abuse. These strategies work for those individuals who adhere to the fundamental philosophy of each Recovery Support meeting. In addition, there are countless online recovery chat rooms that provide friendships, support and guidance.

When you find a Recovery Support meeting that genuinely and authentically mimics your beliefs about recovery, you will get encouragement, guidance, support, and friendships. These in turn, will help you stay focused on your goal of recovery.

I am proud of my recovery but realize that many people helped me accomplish this 26 year celebration
I am proud of my recovery but realize that many people helped me accomplish this 26 year celebration | Source

Celebrating Twenty-Six Years in Recovery

I recently celebrated twenty-six years in recovery. I still use recovery as one of my primary goals in life, although the sub-goals have indeed changed over the years.

This year my sub-goals have been:

  1. Specific: Share what has worked for me, it might help someone else
  2. Measureable: Write about my experiences, setbacks, and achievements in recovery
  3. Achievable: Yes, write daily, revise and rewrite to make it informative, supportive and helpful
  4. Realistic: Yes, I have the time and passion for writing about recovery
  5. Time-targeted: One article per week

I encourage you to do all you can to make your recovery your most important goal; it makes the other valuable goals in your life much easier to attain. Each positive change will reinforce that recovery as a goal is important in your life. Sub-goals give you a sense of accomplishment and validate that you are changing for the better.

© 2013 Marilyn L Davis


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    • MDavisatTIERS profile imageAUTHOR

      Marilyn L Davis 

      5 years ago from Georgia

      Hi Billy,

      You are correct, our lives can and will change for the worse if we don't take care of personal business on a daily basis. I appreciate the reminder.

    • MDavisatTIERS profile imageAUTHOR

      Marilyn L Davis 

      5 years ago from Georgia

      Hi Matt,

      I agree with you. I believe that sometimes, especially with recovery, many people are trying so hard to make up for lost time that they do not find value in the blessings that sub-goals provide.

      Thank you for your kind words and hope you found it helpful. Marilyn

    • matt_elmore profile image


      5 years ago from San Diego

      Excellent hub. As you pointed out, it makes a lot of sense to break your grand goals into smaller pieces so the successes can be enjoyed along the way. Much more motivating that way.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Applying your personal experience is very helpful, I'm sure, to many recovery alcoholics and addicts. Seven years and counting for me....actually, I'm not even counting. I'm just living a life without addiction and remembering how quickly my life can change for the worse if I don't take care of personal business on a daily basis. :)


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